Pickleball fundamentals 02 Constructing strokes to minimize errors
This video is about constructing strokes to minimize errors. Probably the, the most basic, fundamental thing that causes you problems is mistiming the ball contact. So, looking at it from the side here, like if I’m hitting this direction here; typically on a forehand you hit the ball right about here, so it’s about foot and a half off your right shoulder. That’s If you’re standing with your side to the net. Now if you’re hitting a really fast ball at the net, if you’re standing facing the net it’s OK. If you’re at the back line, and you have a relatively slow ball coming in, you have time to get to the side, and that gives you the easiest backswing possible. If you stand facing the net there’s a whole bunch of tension in the body, a bunch of stretch that makes it harder to do. So by standing sideways to the net — side to the net on a slow ball, you can get an easy, an easy backswing. Also, the follow-through is symmetrical, you know — it’s basically, by having the paddle going in the direction you’re trying to hit the ball — having the paddle here, and ending up following through over here, gives you a nice symmetrical swing. This one — stretch here — not so much stretch here. So it’s, it’s asymmetrical. It’s about the same amount of stretch here and here, when you stand with your side to the net. The [tennis] pros don’t do what I see typical typical Pickleballers do — typical Pickleballers will stand facing the net and they’ll, they’ll basically tip the paddle up facing the sky a little bit to ensure that the ball goes over, and they hit typically relatively soft. If they’re at the back line they may still do that, and hit deep. But it’s basically to get the ball to go over the net by tipping the paddle. In tennis that’s called an open-face — it’s “open” to the sky, whereas a typical [tennis] Pro; they will make contact with the paddle vertical, and to get the ball to go over the net, they have a low-to-high motion, so they, the paddle at some point is low, typically right below where the, the shoulder is, obviously, because that’s, that’s going to be the low point, and then they hit out in front in order to have a low-to-high motion, and that low-to-high motion is what lifts the ball over the net, not a tilted paddle. By doing that, they can get a lot of power into the shot. If you do this, with a tilted paddle and try and put a lot of power in the shot, it goes long, typically. So the, the paddle being vertical at contact is what the [tennis] pros use. Now, if you have a windy day, and you get a gust of wind, and it pushes the ball this way, or it’s coming from the other direction and it pushes it that way, or if the ball bounces with spin, either backspin and slows down, or topspin and speeds up, you may be trying to hit the ball right there, that being your contact point, but those variations in speed will cause that contact point to be a zone, what I call a “contact zone”, a bit behind and a bit in front of what your expected or your planned contact point is. So the contact zone becomes your source of timing errors. If you’re trying to hit it here, and there’s a gust of wind and it pushes it this way, you’ll actually hit it farther back, here, or if there’s a gust or wind this way you’ll hit it farther out in front. That, that mistiming, meaning you’re trying to time it here, that’s your desired timing; but hitting it here, or hitting it here — that mistiming the contact, the ball contact, will cause an error, if the paddle face is not vertical, and facing the direction you’re trying to hit. The two most common variations that I see with people who stand sideways, even, which is not, not that common in Pickleball, when they do, one of the most common ones, is that they, they roll their wrist over in the contact zone. As part of their follow-through they, they come up, and then they roll their wrist over. That becomes problematic in that, if you roll your wrist over before you get to the contact point at the far end of the contact zone, the paddle is facing up, and if you roll your wrist over, there’s your contact point; vertical paddle, which is the desired point, and then you roll your wrist over and hit it out here, because the ball slows down, then you’re hitting the ball down. So this is a very difficult shot to perfect. You can’t perfect it unless you can accurately time the ball, and from what I’ve seen, nobody can do that consistently. You might have a good day where you do it a little better than average, but if any kind of gust of wind or backspin, or forward spin, and you won’t contact exactly where you planed, so if you roll your wrist over, you’re dead meat. The other one that’s popular, and people are probably going like “well, that ain’t working, I see I’m hitting into the net, so I don’t want, I don’t want to roll my wrist over”, which is a natural thing, by the way — pronation of your arm, you know, if you just flop your arm back and forth, it’s relatively natural for that pronation to occur. So, so people maybe detect that that’s not good, and so, instead of doing that wrist rollover, they do this — they swing the paddle, they keep it vertical, because they know they need to have it vertical at contact, and then they, they swing it around like a door — so here’s a swinging door kind of a follow-through. The problem well that is, the same thing — mistiming the ball. If you use the swinging door approach, and you go to hit it, and here’s your contact point, if you hit it back here, it’s pointing off that direction to the right of the right net post; and if it’s a short slow ball, and you hit it
way out here, it’s pointing towards the left net post. If you swing hard, that timing, that timing error becomes even more accentuated and you may hit it way out here, and you hit it wide. That’s really typical — I see that a whole lot. So neither this rollover, nor this swinging door follow-through, work. They work occasionally — and you can be fooled and think: “AH! I’m hitting it really well when I do that — all I got to do is get better at it — I just got to practice it, I got to get my 10,000 hours in”. Unfortunately, 10,000 hours doesn’t do anything for having the ball arrive consistently, and you timing the ball. You can get better at ball — you know you can maybe get better at making that contact, but there’s always going to be some error; there’s always going to be — it’s the nature of the game. So what the [tennis] pros have done, and I don’t know who figured this out, but they were brilliant — [what] the [tennis] pros have done, is they do neither of those two follow-throughs — they do what’s called a windshield wiper finish. So what they do is, they start out like a pendulum, so that they can get low, and then start high, and then instead of rolling the wrist, or instead of doing swinging door follow-through (I just made up that term — I don’t know what the real term is, or if there is one) — they do this — they basically do it like a windshield wiper — from the side here, you know, they follow through — so they hit it, and then they follow through like a windshield wiper. This windshield wiper follow-through has something that’s very important: when you hit — with, with the windshield wiper, if you hit it at the back end of the contact zone, the paddle is facing down the middle; if you hit it at the contact point that you hope for, the paddle’s facing down the middle, and if you hit it out in front, the paddle’s facing down the middle. So if you mistime contact, it doesn’t matter — you’re hitting the ball down the middle. Now, there is typically a slight variation, so, you know, there might be a little bit of an angle change in there, maybe 10 [to] 20 degrees either side of your intended direction, but if you compare that to the swinging door type — that has, like, 30 [to] 40 [to] 50 degrees of variation either way, so, so this gives you a huge advantage in, in being accurate in spite of the fact that you’re going to make contact timing errors — you’re not going to always contact it right where you planned. Looking at it from the front — the same thing, you know, hit it back here: it’s a little off to the right but not much; hit it here: now it’s straight down the middle; hit it here: it’s maybe slightly left, maybe 10 degrees either way; maybe 20. So that’s the key. The same thing’s true on the backhand — the backhand — same thing: if you have one-handed backhand, you also do the windshield wiper finish — instead of the wrist rollover or the swinging door follow-through. Now you’ll see [tennis] Pros, sometimes — especially on the backhand, do that follow-through — but that’s because the ball is coming really fast and, and it, typically they’re going to hit it back here, they’re not going to hit it way out here — but we’ll get into that on the next one — the next video.