I always tell my students to get to the line as quickly as possible (it is one of my principles for playing Smart Pickleball, after all!).
When you are receiving the serve, I recommend a deep and slow return so you can easily join your partner at the line.
On the other side of the court, when you see that your partner is going to make the third shot, run up to the Kitchen so at least one of you is at the line.
This is a common misconception that when you have the opportunity, get up to the line immediately.
But here’s what I’ll add – get to the line quickly and safely!
You and Your Partner – The Movable Wall
When at the line, I recommend that you and your partner be about six to seven feet apart, all the time. You and your partner then move side to side together.
You and your partner are creating a moveable wall so that you both are able to be in front of the ball and to reduce your opponents’ options. Your wall is moving side to side, left to right.
And left to right, side to side, is not the only way the wall moves!
You can probably see where I’m going with this now! The wall also moves up and down!
Be Always Sure You Are Right, Then Go Ahead
Slow and steady wins the race is not a bad adage here, but I think the one from Davy Crockett, Be always sure you are right, then go ahead, is better!
When your partner is about to hit the third shot, you want to make sure you advance to the line safely! There’s a few things you need to keep an eye on to make sure you are right before moving (or going ahead!) to the Kitchen.
First Things First! Is It a Good Drop?
Let’s say your partner tries to make that third shot drop. If it’s a not-so-great drop, and you ran up to the line, you’re pretty vulnerable for a slam!
Plus, if you run up, while your partner is back, you create a large gap between the two of you.
So how do you know if it’s going to be a good drop or not?
The apex (highest point of the arc!) of the ball should be about five to six feet above your Kitchen line to drop into your opponents’ Kitchen. If you notice the ball higher than that (seven+ feet), hold up!
Get in position to try a fifth shot!
Second! What’s Your Partner Doing?
You always want to keep your wall intact, keeping that six to seven feet from your partner. Not just while up at the line, but also when advancing to the Kitchen!
So do you move up with your partner, or does your partner move up with you?
It depends on who hits the ball. If you hit the ball, your partner matches your advancement to the Kitchen.
If your partner hits the ball, you match your partner’s advancement to the line.
Third – Move, Stop, Strike – Repeat as Necessary!
It’s certainly easier when receiving to join your partner at the line quickly! When serving, it’s a bit more difficult, but I know you can do it!
You and your partner know to move together to get to the Kitchen – how do you do it quickly and safely?
When you know it’s a decent enough drop, start moving up to the line. Right when your opponent is about to strike the ball,
After your opponent strikes the ball, return it, and continue advancing.
Repeat as necessary, until you get to the line!
What you’re doing is working your way up to the Kitchen, as opposed to running up there at the first opportunity!
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