3 Top Skills: 3.5 - 4.0

3 Top Skills: 3.5 - 4.0

The jump from 3.5 to 4.0 is the one that I work with the most throughout my day-to-day teaching. I can't say for certain what the percentages are, but your average pickleball player falls in the 3.5 range in skill level. So I have a plethora of 3.5 students who are working on getting to the 4.0 level. Before I dive into the 3 most important skills of making this jump, I want to go over a couple of things that you should already be doing efficiently in at the 3.5 level. 

Using the third shot drop to get to the kitchen line - at a 3.5 level, you won't be making all of your third shot drops, but you should be hitting good drops about 60 percent of the time. 

Put-aways - You should also have some consistency in handling high balls with power. Putting pressure on overheads and not hitting high balls into the net is a must at the 3.5 level.

Basic dinking - Dinking errors will happen at almost every level, but a good 3.5 players should be able to sustain a dink rally with confidence and decent footwork. The higher you go in skill level, the longer you will need to be able to sustain these rallies.

So what does it take to get to the 4.0 level? Here are 3 things to improve to become a proficient 4.0 player.

Attacking and 3rd shot drives - 4.0 players have decent offensive shots. You need to be able to use the 3rd shot drive to get to the kitchen effectively and force errors. Most 3.5's are working on 3rd shot drives, but they are usually left too high or driven into the net. 4.0's are a little more dialed in and have the ability to keep them low to the net more consistently. You will also need to start developing your speed-up shots at the kitchen line. Speeding up off the bounce or out of the air is a necessity in order to succeed at this level. 

Transition balls - Because 4.0 players have the ability to hit the ball harder and keep it low, you will need to begin working on handling harder balls at your feet in transition. Where 3.5's tend to lack the skillset to add pressure off of good third shot drops, 4.0's are able to do this more efficiently, so you will need to be able to handle this added pressure.

Countering and blocking - 4.0 players tend to have more offensive skillsets, so you will need to be able to neutralize these aggressive shots with good blocks and counters. This will be necessary while defending 3rd shot drives and speed ups from the kitchen. Practicing volleys with a partner or against a wall is the best way to improve this skill quickly. 

Bonus skill - At the 4.0 level, dinking becomes much more of a required skill. Because players have offensive skillsets, you will need to be able to keep the ball low and at their feet to make attacking hard. You will also need to start developing the discipline of letting balls go. With more aggression comes more out balls. I have written an article specifically on this discipline. Click Here to check it out! 

Every player is different, so it's not easy to specifically tell YOU what skills you need to be working on to get to  the 4.0 level, but these are some universal skills that you will need to obtain to be a competitive 4.0 player. If you have any questions, please feel free to message me! 

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