Doug’s Do’s & Don’ts
1) Don’t Go For A Line If It Can’t Be A Winner.
Don’t risk an out ball for a shot that is going to come back anyway. Instead hit a shot a foot or two feet from the line which will accomplish the same purpose (get your opponents moving, setup the next shot, etc.).
2) Love your Forehand but at least Like your Backhand.
Many players go to great lengths to avoid hitting their backhands – running around and hitting a forehand, switching their paddle to non-dominate hand, etc. The negative consequences of this include: opening up the court & slower recovery for next shot. Usually better to work to make your backhand a reliable shot and use it!
3) If 1 of your opponents is at the net and 1 of your opponents is back, Don’t hit it To the net guy but Do hit it At the net guy.
Generally want to hit to the opponent that is farthest from the net. The exception is when you get a short high ball and can hit a very hard shot at the feet or drive the ball through the net guys legs aka the “Through the Wickets Shot!”
4) When you are in a defensive position (moving, reaching, off-balance), Don’t hit an offensive shot.
Should play a shot that gives you time to get in position and makes it difficult for your opponent to put the next shot away.
5) When you are in an offensive position (to ball early, paddle ready, opponents in defensive position), Do hit an offensive shot.
Don’t just get the ball back – hit a forcing shot, deep in the court, to the open court, or at the opponent’s feet and make them hit a tough shot.
6) If you are having trouble keeping the ball in play, Do play everything to the center until your placement returns.
Wait until you hit several balls in a row near the center of the court before going back to going for shots closer to the lines.
7) Do assign 1 player to decide who will take the all important 3rd shot.
The assigned player will call “Mine” or “Yours” immediately after the return of serve. This avoids the chance of both players calling “Mine” or both calling “Yours” or both saying nothing.
8) Don’t waste energy worrying about your last shot – It is “Ancient History”. Do think about how you will play the next rally.
9) Do encourage your partner.
It is more important to encourage your partner when they are struggling then when they are playing well. Let them know that the shot they just missed was a “Good Idea” or the “Right Shot”. Use “We” instead of “You” when discussing strategy to make it clear that you are not blaming them. Avoid sighing, eye rolling, shoulder dropping, or other negative body language.
10) Do play every rally until it is over. Don’t assume anything.
I call this getting into “Tournament Mode”. Play as if every low ball will clear the net, every lob will land in, every ball to the open court will be run down, etc. The rally is not over until the ball bounces twice, fails to clear the net, or hits a player or the fence. The worst thing that can happen by playing this way is that you will get a little more exercise. You can win 1 or 2 more rallies a game just by playing everything out. It can easily make the difference between winning and losing.
Most Importantly - Do Have Fun!!!Smile, laugh, make fun of yourself. Pickleball is a great sport – Enjoy it!