Monday, November 10, 2014

The Most Important Shot in Pickleball

The most important shot in pickleball is the serve.  If your serve does not go in you lose it, and an opportunity to score a point.  It does not matter how good your third shot drop is if you don't get to play it, and it doesn't matter how well you perform at the non volley line if you don't get to go there.

Recently, I was working with one of our players on his serve.  The problems he was having were really pretty straight forward, and easily corrected.  It is so easy to get into habits that don't work, and often we do not see them ourselves so it may be good to have someone else helping you to figure out why things don't work for you.

In the video below Deb Harrison from The Villages in Florida goes through the steps to having a good serve.  What she says is so simple and logical that you, like me might wonder why we have not made it as easy as she describes and demonstrates it.

I have worked hard over the last year to make every serve land in the proper court.  When I miss one, there is almost always a simple reason why, and that is a loss of concentration.  She covers that, though the second video below from Bob Youngren gives a similar idea.

Here are her rules:
1) Get the ball in.
2) Bowl your serve.  She calls it a simple bowling motion, and she is right. the paddle face should be facing in the direction that the ball is going to go.  Some people turn their paddle to where they want the ball to go just before they hit it.  She says correctly to avoid doing that.
3) Develop a Pre-Serve routine.  She describes hers.  Bob Youngren in the second video describes his.  Get one of your own if you need to, or use one of theirs.
4) Choose your target.  You have to be pointing yourself towards the target to hit it basically.
5) Put your hand over the top of the ball.  This was news to me, and good news.  I have always had my hand to the side of the ball.  So, every now and again, I hit my hand and knock the ball out, which is a very classy move that makes me look like an idiot, as if I need help.
6) Take your paddle hand back smoothly and then strike the ball following through towards the target.  If your arm moves like a pendulum and your body is reasonably stable, then the motion is smooth and you follow through towards the target.  As she points out your legs are involved to provide momentum to the ball, and she invites you to observe how your body moves smoothly through the serve, unless of course, it doesn't and then you need to look at the video again, or get some help.

Deb Harrison is one of the best coaches in the country, and certainly produces excellent coaching videos that explain her points very well.

Notice how she demonstrated her serve, how compact it is, how smooth it is, and how consistent it is. Yours does not have to look exactly like hers, but it should have the same characteristics.

The most important point she makes in the video is in the last minute and 1/2.  It is about where you are when you serve the ball, and provides a very DUH moment.  The server should serve from a position in the serving area that gives the opponent returning the serve the least opportunity to return a serve to the server's backhand.  If the server serves with his/her backhand side a short distance from either the center line or the outside line, then the return person has almost only the server's forehand to return to.

Anyway, watch her video and Bob Youngren's below as well, then go our and practice your serves.

Here is Deb's video 

Here is Bob Youngren's video about the 2 Second Rule.

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