Rules & Playing Tip News

Playing Tip: For All You Big Swingers

Webmaster (Roar Berg-Johansen) : September 10, 2017 10:04 am : Rules & Tips

Some sports rely on big backswings for returning shots. In pickleball, this isn’t so. For one thing, the court is short so the ball doesn’t have to go very far. Secondly, the pace of volleys is fast so there really isn’t time to take a backswing.

Good players learn to punch the ball. You punch a volley shot by extending your arm from the elbow. In the ready position, your elbow is already out in front of you and your feet are shoulder width apart. First, aim by opening or closing the face of the paddle to set the angle. Then extend your arm from the elbow joint, keeping your wrist firm, and punch at the ball. Make contact with the ball as far out front of your body as possible for more control. Don’t let the paddle drop below your wrist.

Use this punch shot unless your opponent hits a very fast volley to you at close range. In that case, just set the height and angle of your paddle to block the shot, and pray. Blocking is pretty effective with almost no movement.

Tom Karas
Power Pickleball Fantasy Camps

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Court Etiquette & The Rules

Webmaster (Roar Berg-Johansen) : October 14, 2016 8:21 pm : Rules & Tips

From Kathy Thomas, USAPA Co-District Ambassador:

No player should question an opponent’s line calls unless asked. (Rule 6.D.5). If your opponent asks you to make a call, they must accept your call. (Rule 6.D.5).  Likewise, a player should not question the legality of an opponent’s serve or service-line foot faults.  A player’s partner should.  During recreational play, non-volley zone faults may be called by any player on either team. (Rule 9.G)  However, simple courtesy suggests you should only call them on your opponent if they are clear and flagrant.  Remember, in recreational play we should try to win, but more, we all want to become better players.  Working together we can do both while accomplishing our number one goal: having fun.

In memory of our friend from Paso, Curtis Mortenson, who used to tell us: You can play pickleball to get better or to win. Doing the former will result in the latter.

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Playing Tip: Hit In-Between, Split the Team

Webmaster (Roar Berg-Johansen) : September 12, 2016 7:52 pm : Rules & Tips

Here are three good reasons to place your shots in the center of your opponents’ court.

  1. The net is 2 inches shorter in the middle than at the posts (34 inches rather than 36 inches.) That gives you a two-inch advantage getting your ball over the net.
  2. It is more difficult for your opponents to hit a sharp angled shot from the center line area. Straight shots are usually returned as straight shots, easier for you to return again.
  3. Center shots add confusion to your opponents play. Who is going to take the shot? The most enthusiastic player will want it. The forehand should take it. The stronger player will want to get it. Each player thinks the other one has it. So many things can go wrong.
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Playing Tip: Silent Partners are for Business

Webmaster (Roar Berg-Johansen) : August 31, 2016 9:01 pm : Rules & Tips

Silent partners may be good in business, and sometimes in marriage, but they do not make good pickleball partners.

Communication between partners helps avoid unforced errors that come when you expect something from your partner and he doesn’t do it. The best partners move as a single force: together at the baseline, together at the net, together in their strategy.

Yours and mine are the most important words you can exchange. Get used to it by trying to call every shot. Even if you agree in advance that the partner on the left will take the shots in the middle, you should still call them.

Bounce it should also be used frequently. This means you think the ball may be out and you are alerting your partner not to hit it until you see where it lands.

When you are not side by side with your partner, give directional clues. Tell him or her to move up, or to go back when necessary. Shout switch when you are behind your partner and want her to cross to the other side.

Complimenting good shots and shaking off errors also helps pump up a partner and makes a stronger team.

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Playing Tip: Duck or Cover

Webmaster (Roar Berg-Johansen) : August 23, 2016 7:23 pm : Rules & Tips

When you are at the kitchen line and your opponent hits a lob over your head, how do you respond?

If you see your partner by your side at the kitchen line, one of you may choose to make a run for it. Never back pedal. Side step to the baseline, or make a U-turn and move to the back, perhaps in time to attempt a blind return shot. Most often, we just let it go and hope it lands out. Executing an effective lob is difficult and a pretty low percentage shot so don’t obsess if your opponents get one now and then.

If you do not see your partner by your side, you should assume s/he may be in position to get the shot. So, help your partner by ducking immediately, giving him a full court to work with.

If you have a good partner who was able to move from his spot across the back to get the lob behind you, he will yell “Switch” which is your cue to stay at the kitchen line but quickly move to cover the other side.

So, duck to get out of the way, or move to cover the other side of the court if your partner commands.

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Rule Review: The Net Rules

Webmaster (Roar Berg-Johansen) : August 10, 2016 7:49 pm : Rules & Tips

A player, the player’s paddle, or anything the player is wearing cannot touch the net or the net post at any time when a ball is in play.

Playing Tip: Jeepers Creepers

When your team is serving you should stay back at the baseline until the opponent’s return of serve bounces. Some of us, me included, have a tendency to creep forward whether we are the server or the server’s partner. Creeping forward leaves you in an awkward position that your opponents can readily turn to their advantage.

If you see someone on the serving team creep forward you should send your return of serve right at them. More often than not, they will hit the ball before it bounces (a fault) or they will fumble to move backwards as the ball bounces at their feet or side. So pay attention to your opponent’s position. If he is foolish enough to creep forward, you know what to do.

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Rule Review: Oops, that’s okay!

Webmaster (Roar Berg-Johansen) : August 4, 2016 8:26 pm : Rules & Tips

The people who wrote the rules were pretty understanding. If the ball hits any part of your paddle hand below the wrist while you are serving or returning a shot, that’s ok. It’s still good.

If the ball skips or double hits your paddle while you are serving or returning a shot, that’s also ok as long as it happened during one continuous motion of your paddle and arm. That means no deliberate double hits. The rule writers were lenient, not drunk.

Playing Tip: Paddle Preservation

Your paddle picks up grime, dust, pollen, and more during play and sometimes during storage. Over time this affects the paddle’s performance and longevity. Here’s how to keep your paddle in good playing condition:

  • Wipe the paddle with a damp cloth frequently. Remember to dry it off too.
  • Do not leave the paddle in a hot car. Extreme heat (and cold) can damage it.
  • Wrap a towel or old tee shirt around your paddle to stow it.
  • Don’t scrape the paddle on the court to hit a ball out of the way.
  • If your paddle has an edge guard, examine it regularly. Loose edge guards can be glued in place.
  • Slapping your paddle against nets, posts, your well-formed thighs or your partner’s backside can weaken the handle or break apart the core inside.
  • When your handle grip gets worn, it is easy to re-grip. A worn slippery paddle handle can be dangerous for your paddle and for other players.
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Rule Review: What’s the Limit?

Webmaster (Roar Berg-Johansen) : July 31, 2016 9:43 pm : Rules & Tips

1. How many times can you serve a let ball and get another chance to serve?

2. How high can the score go in a pickleball game?

3. How many toes can cross the kitchen line before it is a fault?

4. How high is a pickleball net in the middle, ends?

5. How many people can play pickleball at once on a tennis court? Answers: 

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Rule Review: Serving Zone

Webmaster (Roar Berg-Johansen) : July 31, 2016 9:30 pm : Rules & Tips

When you are serving you must stand behind the baseline and between an imaginary extension of the side line and the center line on your court. You are not allowed to be outside of this zone when you connect with the ball. Both feet must stay behind the baseline until the ball leaves your paddle, although it is ok to move across the baseline with your follow through after the ball is hit.

Playing Tip: The Third Shot Matters

What does it mean when people say they want to practice the 3rd shot? Why is it important?

Most points in pickleball are won at the kitchen/non-volley line. That means the serve and return of serve are just introductory shots leading up to the important play. Whichever team gets to and controls the front part of the court first usually wins.
The receiving team already has an advantage because 1 of the 2 players, that’s 50% of the team, is already standing at the kitchen line. As soon as he returns the serve, the receiver can join his partner up front. Meanwhile, the serving team must stay back at their baseline until the return of serve bounces.

The best strategy to take that advantage away from your opponents is for the serving team to place that third shot softly into the kitchen. A short, soft shot means your opponent will have to take the ball on the bounce. That takes away his chances of slamming it into your court and keeping you back at the baseline. The short shot buys you time to move forward and get in position for the volleying to come.

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Rule Review: When does Out mean Out

Webmaster (Roar Berg-Johansen) : June 16, 2016 7:22 pm : Rules & Tips

A ball is not out until it touches the court outside of the boundary lines. Any call made by any player before the ball touches the ground is not a valid call. A premature call is considered player communication and can be helpful to alert your partner to let it go. But no player should stop playing just because someone yells “out” until the ball actually lands.

Playing Tip: Controlling the Kitchen

When your team is at the kitchen line, you are in the offensive position. You control the game. So, what can you do to prevent the other team from getting to or staying at the kitchen line? You have to place your return of serve to the back of their court. A high return takes longer to land than a passing shot, so that’s even better. Hit at the feet of opponents who are approaching but not yet at the kitchen line. And once they get positioned at the line, you can try the lob shot. It’s risky and it is difficult to execute, but when done well it is very hard to return effectively and it usually gets both opponents out of position.

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