Becoming a Dual Threat Player: Part III

Becoming a Dual Threat Player: Part III

When I first started playing pickleball 3 years ago, I heard so much about dinking. It was the first thing I was taught and honestly it was the first thing I feel like I became really good at. However, the game has changed dramatically since then and my outlook on dinking is much different. I love to dink and found that to be a strong point in my game in my early playing days, but I would get frustrated when the players I would play with wouldn't dink. All they wanted to do was rip the ball at me from various places on the court. I was frustrated because I couldn't win. 

Like me, most of you get discouraged when opposing players want to speed everything up and neglect to hit a 3rd shot drop. Many of my students often come to me after tournaments and say that their dinking was useless because the rallies didn't last long enough to get into a dinking exchange. As I mentioned in my previous article, if we can attack our opponents and get away with it a majority of the time, dinking isn't necessary. It's only when we develop a well rounded game that forces our opponents to be more patient that dinking becomes important. I want to share with you the three things that need to be developed in order to force aggressive opponents into a softer game. 

The first thing we must do is develop good hands in blocking and countering. When our opponents are hitting 3rd shot drives and attacking relentlessly at the kitchen line, we need to be able to block the ball back at their feet or counter their attacks efficiently. My advice for this is to take a short and compact swing approach. We often get sucked into the aggressive game by trying to combat it with more aggression. We need to be able soften those shots and put them below the net. When aggressive players don't feel confident in the soft game, we can often create mistakes if we force them to hit up on the ball instead of down. 

The second thing we need to master is the 3rd shot drop and our transition balls. If we are leaving our 3rd shot drops and transition balls too high, we are putting the ball right in our opponents sweet spot. By getting those balls down into the kitchen, we are making aggressive players feel pressure by forcing them hit up on the ball instead of hitting down towards our feet. Handling balls at our feet is hard for anyone, but players who are only efficient at the aggressive game have a much harder time since they want to hit the ball hard more times than not. It's going to be hard for them to execute their shots when they are put under pressure in that position. 

Lastly, be disciplined enough to get out of the way of aggressive balls. A 3rd shot drive won't always go out, but if they follow that ball up with a 5th or a 7th shot drive, there's a high percentage that those balls will sail out. Let some of them go to see if they are landing in or out. If they land in you know you have to put a paddle on them, but if they keep going out, you put stress on your opponents by making them change the pace of their balls. This can often cause errors and it will also give you slower balls to counter if you so choose. Be aware of when they attack from below the net as well. Test these attacks to see if they are going out. Attacking from below the net and keeping those balls in takes a very special skill set. If they don't have it, chances are, many of their balls will fly out. 

Slowing down the fast game is one of the harder aspects of the game, especially around to 3.0 - 3,5 level, but it is crucial to become good at it in order to become a multi-dimensional player. If you can't slow the ball down, aggressive players will dictate pace and have their way against you. If you find yourself only feeling comfortable playing one style of pickleball, start working on other aspects so you can adjust and play against any type of player. A dual-threat pickleball player not only knows how to play multiple styles, they understand how to adjust and when to make a change. Use some of these tips to make sure you never get caught playing your opponents style of play again!

Please feel free to reach out to me with any pickleball questions or if you are interested in taking pickleball lessons in Augusta, Georgia!

Back to blog

Leave a comment