How to Improve Your Transition Game

How to Improve Your Transition Game

Some people call it "No-Mans-Land." It's one of the scariest places to be on the pickleball court and one of the toughest to master. The transition zone is the portion of the court between the base line and the kitchen line. Its where most of us get in trouble and often where we try to avoid getting stuck. In this article, I'm going to give you 3 tips to give you confidence in the transition zone and help you get to the kitchen more efficiently. 

Before we dig in, I want to share with you the biggest mistake I see beginner and intermediate players making when it comes to the transition zone...they simply skip it. The transition zone isn't something that we can avoid and it's not an area that we can sprint through. If anyone has ever told you to hit you third shot drop and sprint to the kitchen, I encourage you to abandon this advice. I encourage you to find another pickleball mentor as well. 

Prepare early for the 5th and 7th shots - After we execute an efficient third shot drop, we need to make sure we're moving through the transition zone to get to the kitchen line. However, we don't want to move too fast. My advice is to stop, get low and get ready for the 5th ball when your third shot drop is crossing the net. You should be about halfway through the transition zone when this happens. Of course, if you leave your 3rd shot drop high, you'll need to stay back and try it again...and move forward once you get a ball to land in the kitchen. Stopping and getting low before you opponent hits their fourth ball is about 80 percent of the work. 

Don't Swing Through Garbage - Any ball that we receive at our feet through transition should be reset into the kitchen so we can continue to move up. If we find ourself regularly taking big swings at low balls through transition, we'll more than likely find a lot of our balls flying out or being put away right past our feet. The transition zone has it's opportunities to be aggressive, but for the most part, we should be using this area to get to the kitchen line. Being stopped and in a low position will help us eliminate the erratic swings and keep resets into the kitchen our main priority. 

See the Kitchen Line as Your "Attack" Line - Remember, our third shot drops, drives and all transition balls should be used to help us get to the kitchen line. There may be drives or drops that are effective in winning the point for us, or we may get an unforced error from our opponents, but we shouldn't count on this happening a high percentage of the time. Don't look to attack and be aggressive until you get to your kitchen line. The two main circumstances where this isn't the case is of course, the 3rd shot drive, and an obvious pop up as we are moving through transition. It's great to be offensive minded, but the transition zone isn't the place to make that a regular habit. Get to the kitchen line to give your attacks a better chance of being successful. 

The transition zone is tough to master. If you want to become efficient and confident moving through it, spend a large amount of time resetting from different locations in transition. To make this mindset a habit, take some time (1 month for example) and abandon the third shot drive and any aggressive balls through transition. It's going to be hard and you may lose a lot of rec games doing this, but it will help you train your mind and body to use the transition zone to get to the kitchen. Once you feel comfortable in your decision making and effectiveness in this area, you can start re-incorporating the right situations to be aggressive. 

Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions you have! I am certified teaching pro in Augusta, GA and I help students improve their skills every day! If you would like me to help me with your game, please reach out me about my video analysis services so we can get your game headed in the right direction!

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1 comment

You are so correct. Congratulations for explaining it so well and clear!!


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