Relishing Pickleball: The Ready Position

David Zapatka

One of the most common errors I see on the pickleball court is not being ready to play. What does this mean?

Being ready to play means a number of things. It means being focused on the point at hand. Paying attention to debris on the court, listening to what someone is saying, thinking about the last point or the weather conditions, and watching someone play on an adjacent court, are all distractions. Be present in the moment and focused on the point. When receiving a serve as well as during the point, we must be mentally and physically ready to play. Here are some key points:

• Face your opponent with your knees bent, feet shoulder-width apart, weight balanced, calm, and without movement.

• Think of facing your opponent as facing the action. Face the location from where the ball is coming. Doing this, you will almost never be standing square to the baseline or non-volley zone line. You will always be angled toward where the ball is coming from. To do this, you will have to move your feet to get into position during the play of the point.

• Having no movement means to stop and set before striking the ball. Moving parts create errors.

• Have your paddle up and out in front of you. Pointing at the ball as it moves around the court helps you focus on the ball. Having your paddle up and on your forehand side while waiting for a serve helps you return using your forehand.

• When returning a serve, you may have to adjust your ready position. Normally you will want to be no more than a foot behind the baseline. However, when facing a hard-driving server, you may need to position yourself farther behind the baseline.

• The same goes for the non-volley zone line. Normally you will want to be no more than a foot behind the line. However, when facing hard hitters, you may need to take as much as two steps back.

Avoid these common errors:

• Feet are too close or too far apart.

• Positioning your feet square to the baseline or non-volley zone line instead of facing the action.

• Having your paddle down, not up ready to play.

Want to know more about the sport, the rules, equipment, or have some pickilicious news you would like to share? Email David Zapatka at dzapatka@wbhsi.net.