In other words, is it okay to go for those body shots?
Like so many pickleball questions, the answer depends!
In this case, it depends on who you’re playing against!
If you’re playing against lesser skilled players who just want to have some fun, going after their bodies may be rude. But with higher skilled players, they are probably expecting shots coming to their bodies, and you are probably expecting some coming to yours!
So how do you stop the body shots? And when you want to dole them out, what part of the body do you aim for?
I’ve Mentioned This a Time or Two…
Actually, I’ve said this thousands of times!
KEEP YOUR PADDLE UP!
Players at the higher levels notice when you lower that paddle.
Keeping your paddle up gives you that little bit of extra time to position your paddle to block one of those body shots.
If your opponent sees that paddle down below your waist, that body shot is coming soon!
The best way to hold the paddle (e.g., out in front, or like a crossing-guard’s stop sign) is what works best for you!
But you have to keep that paddle up!
What Part of the Body to Aim for
Normally, it’s the feet! But in this case, you’re going for the torso!
But what part of the torso? You’ve got a just high enough dink, you can’t hit down at the feet, but you can blast at the body.
Here’s what I recommend: aim for the paddle shoulder.
Grab your paddle and find a mirror. In your ready position (that paddle better be up!), if you’re right-handed, pretend that you’re trying to block a ball coming at your right shoulder.
Feel weird? Feel awkward?
Most other parts of the torso can be blocked a bit easier, but your wrist and elbow have to make a very awkward movement to protect that shoulder, which translates into net or out balls!
So just how do you block these types of body shots?
Ain’t No Thing but a Chicken Wing
This is pretty hard to describe! Just to make sure you get it, there’s a video below!
Lift your elbow and keep a loose grip on your paddle so that it’s kind of dangling from your hand.
The paddle face should be covering that vulnerable right shoulder.
And yes, I call it the chicken wing because that’s what it looks like!
I say “Paddles Up!” alot, but here’s what I also say – “If something works for you, keep doing it!”
You may already have a way to block those shoulder shots. If that’s the case, DON’T CHANGE!
The chicken wing is one option that works for me and may work for you!