3 Top Skills: 3.0 - 3.5

3 Top Skills: 3.0 - 3.5

If you are a tournament player and you've gotten comfortable in your skin playing at a 3.0 level, I want to share my top 3 skills with you that will have you competing efficiently at a 3.5 level. When we are working on taking our game to the next level, we need to be aware of the shots and skills that give US the most trouble. By recognizing where we struggle ourselves, we can assume that opponents at the same skill level struggle (somewhat) with the same things. The biggest weakness I see for most 3.5 players is handling difficult balls at their feet. So this article will be used to point out some ways we can expose our opponents feet and make life as difficult as possible for them. Let's go!

Applying Pressure Through Transition - This skill is all about a mindset change. Of course, we need to have the mechanics for it to work, but the approach allows us to maximize our efficiency when keeping our opponents back as they come in through transition. The idea as we apply pressure while our opponents are in transition is to always make the feet the target. We aren't thinking angled winners here. We want to hit the ball through the court at our opponents feet. One way I like to explain this is that the serving team has all the pressure on them to hit good thirds and make their way through transition. The return team has the easy job. If you are at the kitchen line and you are trying to hit angled winners or go for way too much on your overheads, you add unnecessary pressure to yourself. Keep pushing that ball towards their feet and make them work hard to get to the line. If they make it up, it's okay. The more balls they have to make at their feet, the more pressure they feel throughout the duration of the match and the sloppier they will get in time. Apply pressure and execute the put-a-way when the percentages are high for you! 

Hitting Good Thirds and Transition Balls - At the 3.5 level, players are applying more pressure as you make your way to the kitchen line off of your thirds. Spend a majority of your drilling time on your third shot drops and resetting balls in the transition zone. If you can do this better than your opponents at the 3.5 level, chances are you are going to come out on top of most rallies. Remember, the transition zone isn't for scoring points, it needs to be used to neutralize the point and get to the kitchen line to create better opportunities to attack. There will be opportunities to hit aggressive 3rd shot drives, but we should be using them to eventually put a ball into the kitchen and move up. Like I mentioned, most 3.5's still have trouble with balls at their feet, so that needs to be the target to set up the put-a-ways that we are looking to get. This happens at a higher percentage when we make it through transition and get to the kitchen line. 

Dink at the Feet - It's a simple concept but not always easy to achieve. Again, when we are dinking, we don't want to find ourselves going for wide angled one shot winners. Keep the pressure on by dinking to your opponents feet. Even if it takes 10 plus balls, that's okay. By keeping the ball low and at your opponents feet, you take away their ability to attack you effectively and you create more opportunities to attack. Again, if you can do this better than your opponent, you'll come out on top.

*Bonus Tip; Consistent Put-A-Ways - None of the advice here will do any good of you aren't good at putting the ball away consistently. When you have an overhead opportunity, you don't want to find yourself missing long or into the net. Practice your overheads and being consistent with your punch volley's. The last thing we want to happen is to create a high ball by applying pressure at our opponents feet and then not be able to finish! Work on punishing high balls too!

Please feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions! I hope this article helps you take your game to the next level!

I am excited to announce that I have partnered with Good Get Apparel to bring pickleball players all over the country the freshest pickleball swag! Please use this link to check out their clothing line and receive 15% off of your order! 

Get 15% with this link or by using code: JOHNSON on Good Get Apparel's website!

Back to blog

Leave a comment