Why is it Important to Keep the Ball Low in Pickleball?
Before moving toward the pickleball techniques, tips, and tricks, let’s try to understand why it is important to keep the ball low in pickleball.
You Gotta Stop the Attacking Shots!
The number one priority of a pickleball player is to avoid attacking shots in a game. Aggressive attacking shots will give you a hard time. This will also lower your pace throughout the game.
Therefore you have to avoid attacking shots at all times. When you keep the ball high, you are providing an easy opportunity for the opponent to make an attacking shot.
By throwing the ball lower when you get in trouble during the rally, you lower the chances of getting attacked. Since there would be fewer attacks, you can easily get back to a normal game again.
Slows Down the Ball
Some beginners think that making aggressive shots throughout the game is good for them.
They also think that it will be difficult for the opponents to return these shots. However, in reality, the situation is quite different.
You have to keep the ball slow at some points to keep it under control. In short, you have to keep on switching between the fast and slow pace according to the situation.
You must have noticed that pro players constantly switch between different speeds of the ball during a match. You must have also noticed that the ball is low in these situations.
Well, they do that because keeping the ball low is one of the best ways to control the speed of the ball.
Are you a beginner? Here’s something that might help you: “8 Simple Pickleball Tips For Beginners To Quickly Improve In-Game”
Makes You an Unpredictable Player
Keeping the ball low makes you an unpredictable player. Most players expect the other person to play fast with high strokes.
However, if you try to keep the ball low by creating an underspin and giving a tough time to the opponent, you will surely leave the other player and audience in awe. Also, who doesn’t like to stay ahead of the game?
5 Mistakes You Might Be Making That Keep the Ball High
Many factors add up to the high ball movements. So you might be making some mistakes that are leading to pop-ups of pickleball.
Below, we have highlighted some mistakes. Go through this list and add it to your ‘pickleball mistakes to avoid’ category.
Try to be mindful of these mistakes and ace your next pickleball game!
Flicking Your Wrist Too Much
Breaking your wrist or too much wrist flicking will cause stronger hits. This will eventually lead to more pop-ups and will result in higher shots.
Flickering of the wrist can happen in both forehand and backhand shots. To avoid this, keep your wrist stable and avoid the sudden jerks of the paddle.
Hitting Ball Too Close or Too Far From the Body
You might have heard that maintaining a balance is important. This rule also applies to handling pickleball in gameplay.
You should never hit the ball closely or too far away from the body. Why? Because it will cause more pop-ups and will give your opponents a free chance to make attacking hits.
One way to avoid this mistake is by making more groundstrokes. When you hurry to play a volley shot, you are more prone to hitting the ball too close or too far from the body.
This might not be an intentional mistake as it happens very fastly. Practicing more can help you to avoid these mistakes.
Making Bigger Backswings
Bigger backswings give more power to the ball and also add more spin. This might lead to the instability of the ball.
Because of this, the ball might fly higher toward your opponent. They’ll get a chance to make an attacking shot, which is the last thing you want in a pickleball match.
Pickleball is all about control and balance. So try to make short backswings if you don’t want any pop-ups of the ball.
You Have an Extremely Strong Grip
Having an extremely strong grip on the paddle is another mistake that’s stopping you from keeping the ball lower. This is when you’ll see your knuckles turn white while holding a paddle.
Usually, this grip is observed when players are under high pressure. Because of this situation, you might hit stronger strokes, which lead to high movement of the ball.
You Are Not Relaxed
When the game is very stressful, you might feel pressured. Naturally, your body will go into an alert state in this situation.
Because of this, you might try to hit the ball with strong and angry strokes. However, these strokes would never help you to lower the ball.
Therefore, keep yourself relaxed. Keep on breathing deeply whenever you face a stressful situation and remember that the match will be over in a few moments.
11 Tips to Keep the Ball Low in Pickleball
Now that we have learned the importance of keeping the ball low and the mistakes we’ve been making, let’s move toward the main tips.
We have enlisted 11 tips to keep the ball low. Apply these tips in your daily practice sessions and see the magic!
Let’s get to it
Don’t Get Intimidated by the Net
Want to keep the ball low in a rally? Then don’t get intimidated by the pickleball net. Most players don’t keep the ball low for fear of hitting the net.
No doubt, hitting the net is considered a fault and you might lose a point or serve by doing this. But if you don’t take this risk and hit the ball higher, your opponent will return the ball toward you with unbeatable shots.
Pro Tip: While practicing for your next game, try to keep the ball low while avoiding the net. You can use a pickleball machine or ask your friend to play with you. You must practice because you can conquer this fear by stepping right in front of the net in a match
Aim the Ball at Your Opponent’s Feet
Another tip that can help you to keep the ball low is to aim it toward the opponent’s feet. Set a target on their foot and move the ball toward it.
Most likely, they will not be able to hit the ball with a powerful shot. This tip is helpful if you are having difficulty keeping the ball low with other methods.
Let’s try to understand this with a scenario; you are trying to keep the ball lower, but it ends up going toward the opponent player with a high movement.
Because of this, your opponent is hitting more overhead smashes, which is making you lose points. To stop this, you target the feet of your opponent and suddenly the ball is moving in a low position.
Think about the reason why it happened. Well, one reason is that keeping a focus on the opponent’s feet gives you a focus point where you want to hit.
As your body moves where your eyes move, your paddle will automatically hit the ball in a lower position.
Pro Tip: Try to dodge the opponent before hitting the ball on their feet. Otherwise, they will get prepared for this hit beforehand.
Adjust the Grip on the Paddle
As we discussed earlier, having a strong grip will cause powerful but unstable strokes. Resultantly, you won’t be able to keep the ball low.
Keeping your grip under control is a very easy skill to master but it is, indeed, a very important one. The strength of grip on the paddle determines the height of the ball in a pickleball court.
When the match gets more intense and you start feeling more pressure, you might find yourself gripping the paddle more tightly.
Therefore, whenever you are in a stressful condition, try to be more conscious of your pickleball paddle grips. Try to adjust it by loosening the right grip.
Pro Tip: You must neither have a too-strong nor too-weak grip on the paddle. Find an optimum grip pressure during your practice session and try to incorporate it into your matches.
Keep a Moderate Distance From the Ball
Hitting the ball when it’s too close or too far away from your body will raise it to a high height which is the last thing you want.
Draw imaginative circles around the body. The first circle should be the stopping point so that the ball doesn’t get too close.
Draw a second imaginative circle around your body and don’t let the ball go out of this area. This way, you will have a moderate distance from the ball.
Pro Tip: Allow the ball to bounce as it will give you enough time to adjust your distance from the ball.
Don’t Flick the Wrist
Flickering your wrist is the most common mistake that raises the ball higher than you’d like. Moving your paddle with a jerk or flicking the wrist will cause an unstable and highly powerful shot.
To avoid this mistake, be mindful of the wrist action. Try not to jerk it while hitting the ball if you want to keep the ball lower.
More than often, the flicking of the wrist is involuntary. Therefore, you can’t stop making this mistake all of a sudden. You must add the non-flickering of the wrist in your practice session.
Pro Tip: Having the right positioning of shoulders will be more than enough for controlling the wrist action.
Lower the Paddle Angle
Having the correct position of the paddle is very essential for keeping the ball low. Keep the paddle angle as low as you can, or in simple terms, keep the angle under control.
An upward angle of the paddle will keep the ball high, which is something we have to avoid. Try to keep the paddle angle as low as you can in a practice session.
During your practice session, keep on switching between different paddle angles to find the best angle that will keep the ball low.
Pro Tip: Using a backhand stroke might be easier to keep the ball lower.
- Read more: “Prepare Your Self With Pickleball Positions & Paddle Angles”
Hit the Ball Earlier
Hitting the ball as soon as you can is also an important skill that will keep the ball lower.
Gravity and wind pressure play an important role in the match. So when you wait too long before returning the ball, your ball will gain more energy because of the wind pressure, gravity, and other natural factors.
This leads to a curved or rainbow-like shot, which is very easy for the opponent to return with an attacking shot.
To hit the ball earlier, you can stay near the kitchen line. This will be a good position for hitting quick and low volley shots. Don’t step over this line though!
Sometimes, you can get too preoccupied with the ‘quick’ part and forget about hitting the ball with moderate power. But keep in mind that reacting fastly to a ball doesn’t mean that you have to hit it strongly.
Pro Tip: Try to play the ball in front of your body. This way, you’ll strike the ball fastly and will be able to keep it low.
Cross Court Dink
A cross-court dink is made by sending the dink toward the diagonal court of the opponent. Dinking at the cross-court will reduce the chances of pop-ups and will keep the ball low.
Cross-court dink is also a powerful shot itself, so you’re not only keeping the ball low but also keeping the opponent in a defensive position.
For making a cross-court dink, you have to adjust the positioning of your body. Also, it is good if you can dodge your opponent before making this hit.
Pro Tip: To hit a successful cross-court dink, standing 1-2 inches behind the kitchen line and making a soft shot will help.
Keep Yourself Relaxed
Keeping yourself relaxed is the key to avoiding pop-ups and keeping the ball at lower heights. You might have noticed that whenever you are in a stressful condition during a match, the ball moves higher than you intend to.
One reason for this is that when you’re distressed, the grip on the paddle gets too strong. We’ve already discussed that a strong grip will lead to heavy and high strokes.
Therefore learn to keep yourself calm during the rally session.
Pro Tip: Practice deep breathing every time you get stressed. You will notice that this will drastically improve your mood and increase your focus on the game.
Be More Mindful
You can never win a game if your mind is constantly distracting you. To keep the ball low and ultimately win the pickleball game, you must stay in the moment.
While trying to keep the ball low in a rally, remove every intrusive thought from your mind. Then focus on the techniques you have practiced in different sessions because this is the time to put them to use.
Keeping your eyes on the ball can help you to remove other thoughts from the mind. When you start losing focus again, you can practice the breathing technique.
Pro Tip: You can practice proper meditation 10-15 minutes before the game starts. This will help you to clear all random thoughts from your mind. Resultantly, you’ll be able to focus more on the game.
Practice as Much as You Can
You might have realized that we mentioned the word,’ practice’ a lot in other tips. The truth is that legends were right about the fact that, “practice makes the man perfect.”
Well, we can’t say that it makes a ‘person’ perfect, but practice can surely increase your chances of keeping the ball low throughout the pickleball rally.
Since you are almost at the end of the current, now you must be thinking about how you would implement these tips in your next game. But the truth is that a few of these tips would never work out without practice.
Therefore, conduct a lot of practice sessions with a friend or with a pickleball machine. Master these tips and then use them in the main gameplays to keep the ball low.
Pro Tip: In each session, focus on only one tip or technique. Once you master this technique, then move on to the next one.
To summarize, learning to keep the ball low in pickleball is essential for players of every level. This skill will not give the opponent a chance to send an attacking shot your way.
Hitting the ball slowly, lowering the paddle angle, not flicking the wrist, and keeping a moderate distance between the body and the ball, are some tips that will help you to keep the ball lower in a rally.
We hope that you found some useful tips and also implemented them in your pickleball games. Lastly, all tips are useful but the most important ones are to stay relaxed and be more mindful!
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