Pickleball Paddle Positioning to Improve Gameplay

Pickleball Paddle Positioning to Improve Gameplay

Pickleball is one of the fastest growing games in America. An estimated of 2.5 million people are becoming frequent players of pickleball. Since pickleball is a relativley newer game as compared to the likes of badminton, tennis, volleyball, etc., people are still not aware of the right tactics needed to master this game.

More and more people are joining this sport, and professionals like Sarah Ansboury and Simone Jardim are giving out advice on key strategies that can help individuals become better at pickleball.

It takes time, hard work and dedication to master any sport. Same is the case with pickleball. If you want to win a good amount of pickleball games, you should know that it is important to pay attention to the proper positioning of the pickleball paddle.  

Holding the paddle in a proper “ready position” can help you take your return shot quickly and can also reduce your chances of errors. A lot of times, players tend to drop their paddle to the side mid-game, either due to fatigue or tiredness because of continuous play. This can be bad for your game as you won’t be able to return the shots properly and might miss several shots. Hence, it is important to not let the paddle fall to the side.

In addition to keeping your paddle ready all the time, there are also a few more strategies that help you much more in playing better pickleball. Let’s have a look at a few of them.

1) Standing Correctly in The Ready Position

According to national pickleball champion Simone Jardim, a lot of time, beginners are told to position their paddle at 12:00, straight up in front of pickleball net, and then swing it to 9:00 for back shots. Though this does benefit some players, others might find it difficult to return the shot when the ball comes on their weaker side, causing the player confusion on what would be the right position to hit a solid return.

2) Tracking the Ball with Your Paddle

The most important thing to keep in your mind is to position the paddle out in front of you and not keep it too close to your chest. According to Sarah Ansboury, instead of standing parallel to the net and turning your head, it is better to move your torso and shift your weight. This helps you return the ball easily while standing in the right position. Also, let the larger muscles of the shoulders control your body movement, instead of your elbows or wrist.

This strategy is very helpful in tracking the next movement of your opponent and keeping you energized throughout the game.

3) The Paddle-Up Strategy

A good pickleball strategy involves and the right positioning of both your body and the paddle. A number of players assume that paddle-up is the best strategy to win the game, or to make a few strong shots. A lot of experienced instructors advice and teach the paddle-up concept. However, it is also a fact that this technique is not used by professional pickleball players. This makes it hard for people to decide whether to use the paddle-up strategy or not.  

So, what exactly is the paddle-up strategy? Paddle-up strategy means holding out the paddle at chest level in front of your body. The most extreme case of this strategy is to hold the paddle at nose level.

The reason the paddle-up strategy could be a bad habit because it elevates your center of gravity due to which you are not able to move quickly. Instead, it is better to keep the paddle at waist height while waiting for the next shot as compared to keeping it positioned at your chest level or nose level.

However, in the end, it is a matter of your own choice. Some players might be ready to compromise on the center of gravity to achieve paddle readiness, while others might adopt a quicker playing style.

Simone Jardim Video Tutorial

Some Other Tips for a Better Game and Paddle Positioning.

Make sure you have a tight grip on the paddle before you the ball. A lot of players tend to hit the ball while holding the paddle with one hand only. The proper grip can change your game. You have more chances of hitting the ball correctly and strongly if you use two hands instead of one to steady the paddle.

It’s a good idea to use the continental grip. When the face of the paddle is perpendicular to the ground, place the “V’’ between your index finger and thumb on the paddle’s handle-top.

For better ball control while volleying, position your elbow out tight in front of your hip and keep the head of the paddle above your wrist. Also, remember to not lower the paddle head while aiming for low shots.

While Waiting for the Ball:

  • You should always be in the “ready position”.
  • Keep your elbows out in front of your body.
  • Keep your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Make sure you are on your toes.
  • Keep the top of the paddle higher than your waist.
  • Wrinkles on your wrist are a good sign of holding the paddle in the right position.
  • Do not drop the top of your paddle even while hitting low shots.
  • The angle of the hitting side of the paddle should be slightly open (1 o’clock to 7 o’clock).

Few Mistakes to Avoid While Playing

  • Being too predictable
  • Not paying enough attention to the movement of your opponent
  • Overhitting
  • Not keeping track of wind
  • Not holding the paddle tightly
  • Positioning the paddle too high
  • Wrong shot selection
  • Hitting the ball with such force that it goes out of boundary
  • Not being patient.

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