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How Tennis Players Can Excel in Pickleball: Mastering the Transition

How Tennis Players Can Excel in Pickleball: Pickleball is rising in popularity, with people of all age groups joining in. One reason for this is its ease of play. Tennis players have a natural advantage when transitioning to pickleball, particularly when they master the skill of taking the ball on the rise with a short backswing. This technique, reminiscent of John McEnroe’s “chip and charge” on grass courts, is becoming a cornerstone of advanced pickleball play. The ability to handle ‘short hops’ is crucial, allowing players to maintain an offensive stance.

The Technique Breakdown

Alice Tym, a former world-ranked tennis player in the 1960s, now holds a 4.5 senior pickleball ranking and has been honored as the USPTA Coach of the Year.

Alice, an experienced coach, explains that a short backswing not only saves time but also reduces the chance of error. Striking the ball early facilitates a swift move to the net, akin to a game of “King of the Mountain,” where the player who hits early gains dominance. Key to this strategy is anticipation—reading your opponent’s shot as soon as the ball leaves their paddle. This proactive approach, rather than a reactive one, sets good players apart. By observing their hands, stance, and swing, players can predict where the ball will land and position themselves accordingly.

Power and Momentum

Your power in pickleball comes from your legs and forward momentum, not just your arm. Hitting the ball early pressures your opponent, opening up more angles and opportunities. Keeping your head down during the swing is essential for timing and maintaining a forward-moving attitude.

Practical Drills for Mastery

When practicing this technique, keep your paddle up and in front, ready for quick exchanges. Imagine a string pulling you forward, with your follow-through guiding you to the non-volley zone (NVZ). To shorten your backswing, practice against a wall, volleying from close range, or have a partner hit balls at you from up close. Using video can help you refine your execution by allowing you to spot and correct errors.

A short backswing adds versatility to your game, putting your opponent on the run. This technique is not just about power but about strategic positioning and readiness.

Tip of the Week: Coach Mary

With summer heat making extensive drilling sessions less appealing, here are some ways to practice effectively on your own:

  1. Use a Wall: Volley against a wall at home or find a community backboard. Rancho Mirage CP, for example, offers two backboards.
  2. Ball Machine: Investing in a ball machine can provide consistent practice.
  3. Targets: Use cones, hoops, or dots to aim for precision.
  4. Ping Pong Table: Great for indoor practice during hot weather.
  5. Drill Classes: Join local classes to find drilling partners and practice game situations.
  6. YouTube Videos: Learn from top instructors like Jordan Briones, Zane Navratil, and Sarah Ansboury.

Solo Drills

If your regular playing partners aren’t interested in drilling, use the attached videos and these suggestions to improve your game independently. Stay proactive, keep your paddle up, and enjoy the practice!

Drill Ideas

  • Get a bucket or basket of pickleballs and a pickup tube.
  • Create a wall at home or use existing structures in your community.
  • Purchase a ball machine for consistent practice.
  • Use targets like cones, hoops, and dots.
  • Practice on a ping pong table indoors.
  • Sign up for drill classes to find like-minded players.
  • Participate in local round robin events for game situation practice.
  • Watch instructional videos from renowned pickleball coaches.

By incorporating these drills and techniques into your routine, you can enhance your pickleball skills and enjoy the game more fully.

How Tennis Players Can Excel in Pickleball

 

News in Brief: How Tennis Players Can Excel in Pickleball

Pickleball is gaining popularity across age groups due to its accessibility and the advantage it offers to tennis players transitioning to the sport. Mastering techniques like taking the ball on the rise with a short backswing, akin to John McEnroe’s ‘chip and charge,’ is crucial. Alice Tym, a former tennis world-ranked player and now a senior pickleball champion, emphasizes the importance of anticipation and forward momentum. Practical drills, such as using a wall or a ball machine, help players refine their skills independently. These methods not only enhance gameplay but also make pickleball more enjoyable and competitive for all enthusiast

Our Readers Queries:

Q. What’s harder to play, tennis or pickleball?

Ans. Tennis is known for its complex technical aspects, numerous gameplay rules, and sport-specific skills. In contrast, while pickleball also has its own set of rules, the skill level required is generally lower, making it more accessible for beginners to grasp the basics and begin playing compared to tennis.

Q. Why are people so obsessed with pickleball?

Ans. The smaller court dimensions, lighter paddles, and fast ball speed in pickleball enable rapid rallies and frequent opportunities to make contact with the ball, creating a dynamic and adrenaline-filled experience. Matches are characterized by short games and high-intensity points, requiring focused attention from players, though the fast-paced nature of the game ensures that staying engaged is naturally compelling.

Also Read: Casper Converts Tennis Courts to Pickleball to Meet Surging Demand

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