The next time you are on a pickleball court, stand on the baseline and bend down so your eyes are about 3 feet above the court surface. Look straight at the top of the middle of the net (standard pickleball net height is 34 inches at the center strap) and you will be looking on a straight path parallel to the ground. This is your “line of sight.” Then slowly stand up and walk forwards towards the net, stopping at the point where you can look over the net and see a reasonable target size of about 5 feet inside the opposing baseline.
What can we learn from this exercise? You can only hit successfully at full power when you have “line of sight” on your side since power shots have little arc. Therefore, before you “rip” a shot with full power, make sure you are:
- Hitting the ball out of the air (pickleballs do not bounce high like tennis balls).
- Contacting the ball well above the height of the net.
- Standing fairly close to the kitchen line.
What happens if you strike the ball at any other height and position on the court? at full power? Chances are you will hit the ball out or in the net. Compared to tennis, pickleball rules and equipment are stacked against power. There’s little or no topspin to help bring the ball down into the court, serving is underhanded, and you cannot volley in the “kitchen.” Control and touch win over power. This makes for longer points. The result? More fun!
The perspective of the image above allows us to see what the server sees. What happens if you cover the net with a sheet or blanket? Clearly, most pickleball shots have to be hit up and over the net with control and cannot be hit on a straight line of sight with power.
Joe Dinoffer is a Master Professional in both the USPTA and PTR, has been recognized with numerous national awards including the 2019 City of Dallas Humanitarian Award for contributions to inner city tennis, and has conducted clinics and exhibitions in over 50 countries. Joe is the author and editor of 9 books and more than 20 DVDs, has more than 300 published articles in various tennis and pickleball magazines, and has aired many instructional tips on the Tennis Channel. Plus, Joe’s YouTube channel has more than 2 million views and growing! His latest book “Words, Wisdom, and Whimsy” is the second volume of an illustrated series called “Poems from the Heart.” In 1994, Joe founded OnCourt OffCourt, Ltd., a company dedicated to serving the tennis, pickleball, fitness, yoga, and physical education industries with innovative training aids and educational tools. Today, he has designed and manufactured more than 150 creative products being distributed and used in 100 countries worldwide.