5 Easy Pickleball Tips for IMMEDIATELY MASTERING the Transition Zone

Written by Adam (HV)

July 7, 2023

pickleball tips

In pickleball, the team that controls the net, controls the game.

But what if you struggle with getting to the net? Or what if you can’t get to the net at all?

Today we’re going to cover pickleball tips on how to master the transition zone and how to get from the baseline to the non volley zone with confidence. It’s my hope that after watching this video, you’ll have a plan for conquering no man’s land the next time you get on the court. 

Watch the full video here.

Pickleball Tips: What is the transition zone?

The transition zone is this 15 feet of space between the baseline and the non-volley zone. It’s often called no man’s land because many players struggle in this area. For example, let’s say you’re hitting high 3rd shots or attackable 3rds and your opponent is attacking them. If you don’t have a plan or know how to handle it, your 5th shot can feel impossible and you may feel stuck.

Strategy & Mindset Pickleball Tips for the Transition Zone

Before we get into how to handle those attacks, let’s talk about a few strategy and mindset tips.

  1. You’re playing defense. Generally speaking, if you hit an attackable 3rd, because your opponents are at the net and you’re not, you are in a defensive position and must take defensive shots. There may be a few exceptions to the rule like a shake and bake, but for the most part, you’re taking defensive shots here and not attacking or speeding up the ball.
  2. Earn your way – your goal should be to hit an unattackable shot that neutralizes your opponent, but many times it takes a 5th, 7th, or 9th shot to do this.  
  3. Don’t rush, but close the distance – Last but not least, a lot of players want to rush their way to the net after hitting their 3rd shot, but that’s not always a good idea. You must wait for the right shot that neutralizes your opponent so that you can safely get to the net. A defensive shot at the baseline is harder than one that is closer to the net, so just remember to close the distance. 

Practical Pickleball Tips: How to Master the Transition Zone

Now let’s get into the practical steps for handling shots in the transition zone:

  • Read your shot – the first part and one of the most overlooked part is reading your own shot and watching your opponent. If you hit a shot that’s in your opponent’s green zone or up here, get ready to play defense.
  • Get in position – the next part is getting into position, a good way to do this is to split step just before your opponent hits the ball. This will help you stop and get into good positioning. A split step is just a hop that gets your feet into position with your weight more on your toes. I have a video that breaks that down, I’ll include it in the description.
  • Get low and wide – Next is very important, you will need to bend your knees and get your paddle low to dig up the shot your opponent hits. Your opponent will be likely hitting it at your feet or at the ground near your feet so go ahead and get your paddle down.
    • Be sure that your base is wide and you’re not leaning back
  • Make contact – 
    • When you make contact with the ball, your paddle face will be open
    • Your grip pressure will be 3-5, 
    • Your paddle will do a lot of the work for you
    • I prefer to use my backhand because I can get more distance. If you need more stability, you can add your nondominant hand 
    • If possible it’s good to take the ball out of the air instead of off the bounce. This is because when the ball bounces, if you short hop it, the ground introduces new variables that can make your shot more difficult.
    • No matter what, get your paddle on the ball and continue to make your way to the net.
    • If you need more stability, use your non dominant hand 
    • If you’re getting a ball that’s chest high, let it go
    • If possible, try and get the ball to bounce in the non volley zone
  • Close the distance – last but not least, remember to close your distance to the net.

Pickleball Tips for the Transition Zone

What is the biggest takeaway or pickleball tip for the transition zone? Let me know in the comments.

path to better pickleball

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