No matter how good a pickleball player is there is always room for improvement. Whether playing singles or doubles there are numerous facets to each, and numerous skills to develop: footwork, serve, return of serve, moving opponent(s) around the court, ball placement, in doubles playing with a partner, approaching and defending the non-volley zone, dinking, patience, etc. This section shares some thoughts and links that pickleball players may find useful. (Additions to this section are planned … if you have something to add, please share.)
Two popular pickleball coaches found on Youtube are Simone Jardim and Jordan Briones.
Besides providing a number of pickleball observations and drills, Simone Jardim put together an assortment of drills players can try when using the Pickleball Tutor Plus machine (the same machine recently purchased by our City Recreation Center). One of Jardim's drills is highlighted below. Simone Jardim Ball Machine Drill #3 Volleys (May 21, 2020, (9:54 min) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W8PN3TYXq-Y Jardim's focus in this video is developing a Punch volley. Suggestions include: player using a continental grip, keeping face of paddle a bit open, and moving paddle forward toward the net when contacting the ball (not using a cocked wrist). Jardim tends to work with a variety of teaching aids such as the “Backswing Solution”, “Grip Trainer”, and colorful plastic round dots that stress where players feet should be and targets where players should aim shots. For a successful Punch volley player begins in a Ready Position (imagine feeling like you're ready to catch a ball), keep body leaning forward, aim for hitting ball in middle of paddle, avoid turning hips, position upper body more-square to net so contact point stays in front, stay compact, not changing grip and not tucking shoulders in. (Can do drill for 20-30 minutes; stop drill when technique breaks down due to fatigue.)
One very popular pickleball video featuring Jordan Briones is his Top 9 Pickleball Mistakes (Mar 26, 2020, 18:04 min) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iL3Vkgr1Gq8 The “Wandering” Server (drifting server). After serving the ball, player drifts into court instead of staying back (2-3 feet); better players are going to want to hit their return shot as deep as possible. Standing on Baseline When Waiting for Return. Problem is better players tend to serve shots deep and closer to baseline, forcing return player to move back. Hitting “Dead Dinks” (shots that have no purpose & don’t press opponent) with no spin, same placement, easy to attack … instead “Dink with Purpose” placing ball to opponents forehand then backhand, at feet, sometime close, add spin. Too Easily Pushed Off NVZ Line & Not Getting Back. Suggest not always letting deep dinks bounce, take ball out of air as a dink volley, mind-set not constantly backing up; instead getting back to NVL and being ready (split step or as least bent knees); try to get/hit every ball out front, if forced to move back then rock back forward. Having the Mentality “Win From the Back” (Remember the team that dominates the net (NVL) usually wins games.) Always want to be moving toward the net and working on 3rd shot drops. Suggest adopting a “Win From The Net” Mentality. Drive & Rush Serving teams goes for their 3rd shot drive and then just runs in, so they get caught while coming in, they’re not stopped (like a headless chicken). Suggest “Drive & Assess”: stopping movement, getting ready. Being a Spectator on the Court, after player or partner hits ball, rather than quickly returning to ready position, player stops to examine what’s going to happen next (example getting pulled out wide -- leaving large gap in middle -- and not quickly returning to ready position. Suggest “Recovering as You Assess” and quickly close gaps. Avoiding Backhand at All Costs allowing good players to easily lead backhand resisters out of position. Suggest always work on/practice backhand shots. Playing with Small Margins (Targets too close to lines); hitting too close to sideline or baseline and missing too many balls wide and deep. Suggest players provide themselves enough cushion and margin when hitting ball.