Quoting from Pickleball Fundamentals: Master the basics and compete with confidence, by Mary Littlewood, when hitting a forehand groundstroke, “from the moment the ball leaves the opponent’s paddle, you should be tracking its flight with your eyes to aid you in judging the speed and direction of the ball. Move to the ball as quickly as you can. At that point, you should assume a position that is partially facing the net and partially facing the nearest sideline with your weight balanced over your feet. The bounding ball should be between you and the net and on your paddle-arm side.
“As you’re moving into position, draw your paddle arm back in preparation for the forward arm swing. With your weight on your rear foot, swing your paddle arm backward while keeping it parallel to the ground. Shift your weight from your rear foot to your front foot and tighten your grip on the paddle as you contact the ball at a point just off your front knee. A firm grip allows for better control of the paddle and puts more force on the hit. Follow through by allowing your swinging arm to continue through toward the target.”
I would add that it’s very important when you “move to the ball as quickly as you can,” as Mary stated above, that you stop moving before hitting the ball. Do not run through the ball. After stopping, continue tracking the ball into the middle of your paddle and actually watch it hit your paddle. The contact point should be out in front of your body, not alongside your body or behind you. Not stopping and, instead, running through the ball creates errors. Think this: Move to the ball. Stop. Track the ball into the paddle. Watch it hit the ball. Follow through.
The USA Pickleball National Championships, sponsored by Pickleball Central, will be held at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden this year, Dec. 6-14. It’s worth the short drive to see the world’s top pickleball players in all age groups, singles and doubles, competing at the highest levels. If you can’t make it, watch for the matches to be broadcast on the CBS Sports Network.
Want to know more about the sport, the rules, equipment or have some pickilicious news you would like to share? Email David Zapatka at [email protected].