3 Top Skills: 4.0 - 4.5

3 Top Skills: 4.0 - 4.5

If you are an advanced player and are looking to gain the skills necessary to make the jump from 4.0 - 4.5, I want to share with you 3 skills that you should begin developing to get to that level. When I began working towards becoming a 4.5 player, I felt like I was in that transition period for a long time. The soft game was rather natural to me, but I lacked a lot of power and the offensive ability that I needed to advance. This article is geared towards the pickleball player that doesn't come from a tennis background. I will touch on some things the average tennis or power player (with aggressive shots) should be working on as well.

Here we go...

A toolbelt of attacks - playing at a 4.0 level, you have some sort of attack at your disposal. Chances are, you are probably really good at attacking off the bounce or out of the air, but probably not both very consistently. You also probably rely more on your backhand or forehand attack over the other. To be a competitive 4.5 player, you should start developing the attacks that you struggle with the most. At a 4.0 level, I was more comfortable attacking off of the bounce, especially on the forehand side. When I made the jump from 4.0 to 4.5, a two-handed backhand attack and out of the air flick helped more become more competitive at the 4.5 level. Begin working on the attacks you aren't very successful at. That way you have more options for attacking and don't have to wait for a specific ball to be aggressive. The more attacks you have to use, the more you can attack! 

The forehand and backhand roll - If you don't already have some top spin shots in your arsenal, you'll need these at 4.5. The first reason you will need to begin applying top spin is to make it harder for your opponents to get to the kitchen line off of their 3rd shot drops. As you move up in level, players become more consistent moving through transition. If you don't have roll shots to apply pressure, they will get to the kitchen line too easily and increase their chances of scoring points. The next reason is that applying top spin to your attacks allows you to attack lower balls while keeping them in, and it allows you to hit those attacks with a little more pace. 

The reset - The reset that I'm referring too is the one we need when we find ourselves on the losing end of a hand battle (when the ball gets below the net on our side or near our feet.) At a 4.0 level, we begin working on this, but if we don't execute it consistently at a 4.5 level, we will find ourselves not being able to get out of trouble when we need to. If we keep firing away when we are in a bad spot at 4.5, we will lose a high percentage of those rallies. Learn to dig balls at your feet and place them into your opponents kitchen from every spot on the court. This will help you in transition and also to reset when you get in trouble. 

If you are a former tennis player or you consider yourself to be more of a "power" 4.0 level player, you will need to develop some other skills to get to 4.5. Executing a 3rd shot drop consistently is the first priority. You won't be able to get away with getting to the kitchen line with the drive on every rally at 4.5 (especially if you aren't good in transition.) Transition is the next skill set to develop. Being able to defend and get balls into your opponents kitchen while in transition is crucial. And lastly, you need to become a consistent and efficient dinker. Don't use your dinks as winning shots, but learn to play the long game by using them to move your opponent around and create high balls to attack

Everyone's "level jumps" look a little different. Define what your style of play is and begin working on the style that doesn't come naturally to you. Please reach out to me if you have any questions! I'll be glad to respond and help out however I can! 

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1 comment

Hi! This is good stuff.

I don’t mean this as a “grammar Nazi,” but I think fewer writing errors would make your content even better, so as not to distract. I worked as an editor and I see mistakes without even trying. There aren’t a lot, but I recommend having someone proofread before you publish, at the very least. :)

Lisa Burkett

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