Pickleball has become a fun and popular sport to play in recent years. It can be played as a single or doubles game, but doubles are played quite often. It has some elements of tennis, ping-pong, and badminton.
Players should hit the ball with clear contact on the paddle, to either the open court, towards the middle of the court between opposing players, or down towards the opponents’ feet. Players can hit the ball using a closed, open, or flat position to influence where the ball goes.
Where to hit the ball also depends on your strategy and whether it is a single or doubles game. The player’s positioning, either on the offense or defense, also influences where the ball should be hit.
Where To Hit The Ball In Pickleball
Where you aim to hit the ball in pickleball makes a big difference in the game. It will also depend on the specific ball you have been served. There are different ways to hit the ball, including down at the feet, the middle part of the court, and into the open court.
The Open Court
This strategy may be obvious but hit the ball toward the open court. If there is a large open spot, try to get the ball to go into that area so your opponent will struggle to return it. Or your opponent may return the ball, but without good contact, and lose the point anyways.
One disadvantage of this shot is that often the ball goes out of bounds. You could win a point if the ball hits the line but lose one if it doesn’t. Therefore, keep the ball controlled and within bounds when hitting the ball to an open court.
The Middle Of The Court
There is an idiom used on the pickleball court that frequent players use – “Down the middle solves the riddle”. It is when players hit the ball down the middle of the court between the two opponent players when they are playing a doubles match.
It is a common strategy because, in doubles pickleball, it will split the two opponents and gives more margin or error to the player that would need to play their backhand shots. Forehand shots are more straightforward than backhand, so the players may make more mistakes.
This strategy works well for two reasons. Firstly, two players may be confused or momentarily fight over who gets to hit the ball back. Secondly, if there is a large gap between the two opponent players, hitting the ball between them can easily be missed by both.
Also, by hitting the ball down the middle, there is less opportunity to hit out of bounds. The middle part of the pickleball net is slightly lower than the sidelines, so you’ll be more likely to miss the net by hitting the ball down the middle.
Hit Towards The Feet
When players practice hitting the ball toward the feet, they should hit their shot down the pickleball court and to their opponents’ feet. Usually, players can do this when the returned ball is hit high over the net.
The feet are a good place to hit the ball as it makes it more challenging for the opponent to return it. Higher shots, like shots that hit higher than shin height, are easier to hit back. Players can make this even more interesting by hitting down towards the feet on the opponent’s backhand side.
When players often aim for the feet, the ball is not low enough and goes upward towards the opponents’ hips. Aiming for the hips can also be a good strategy, as keeping the ball low will make it challenging for the opponent to hit the ball back successfully.
Players can take turns hitting the ball to either the left or right side of the body, confusing the opponent and making it more difficult for them to anticipate where they will aim the ball.
Hit Towards The Body
Players can also aim for their opponents. If the aim is perfect, the opponent will have to jump out of the way quickly and possibly miss the ball. Quick shots are tough to dodge.
Another tip is to aim at the player in front of you rather than diagonally or crosscourt. The opponent right across from you will have less reaction time, with most of the shots in pickleball.
Position To Hit The Ball
To hit the ball in pickleball, the player must be in the correct position. The correct position ensures that the paddle and ball make good contact and that the ball is hit where the player intends. The player should be in a block-type position with the feet firmly on the ground.
It should be a neutral stance where the toes, knees, and shoulders are mostly aligned. This means the player’s body will be slightly forward, in a “ready” position. To hit the ball with a nice and clear contact, keep your paddle out and away from the body, head facing forward.
How a player hits the ball with their paddle also makes a difference. One way is to think about the ball like a clock. When the ball reaches your paddle, you can either hit on the closed position (12 to 1 o’clock), flat position (2 to 4 o’clock), or open position (4 to 6 o’clock). The top of the ball is 12 o’clock, and the bottom is 6 o’clock.
To hit the ball over the net, players need to target the open position to get the ball high enough to go over the net. To hit a more downward position, players need to hit the closed position. Hitting the ball at the 3 o’clock or flat position will cause the ball to go straight ahead and often out of bounds.
Of course, strength, speed, and body position will also play a role in where you hit the ball, influencing the paddle position on the ball.
Players should hit the ball in pickleball towards an open space in the court or down the middle between the opponent players. Players can also hit the ball toward the opponent’s body or down to their feet.