3 Pickleball Tips for Improving Your Reaction Time & Winning Volleys at the Net

Written by Adam (HV)

March 3, 2023

pickleball tips

Pickleball is a fast-moving game with speed ups and attacks and the game is only getting faster. But if you don’t know how to handle those speed ups, it can be frustrating and difficult to compete. Today we’re going to cover a few simple pickleball tips you can use to not only see those speed ups coming, but prepare, respond, and come out on top.

Watch the full video here.

Pickleball Tip #1: Check Your Position

The first step in handling attacks or speed ups is your positioning. Good positioning means you’re prepared physically to handle the attack when it comes.  

  • You want to be in the ready position and in an athletic stance. You’re not standing straight up or away from the line.
  • You want to have your paddle out front around the 11 or 12 oclock position. Personally, I favor my backhand because I can be more compact and efficient with a punch or block, but if you anticipate that it’s coming to your right side, you can shade that way too.
  • You always want to anticipate that the ball is coming back, so maintain good ready position through a point.
  • You want to always be in position or physically prepared for your shot to come back to you. This is a good rule of thumb whether you are dinking or hitting a winner, you never know if it’s coming back.
  • Bonus pickleball tip: One caveat to consider with your positioning is that if you need extra time to react and you see a pop up coming, you can take a step back. This will give you extra time to react but always be sure to get back to the nvz. 

Pickleball Tip #2: Seeing the Speed Up or Attack

You can anticipate attacks by watching for a few things. Many attacks will share these characteristics:

  • What kind of shots are you sending over? Are they unattackable or are they floaters or bouncing high? 
  • Where is your opponent’s contact point when they hit the ball? Is it below the net or in the yellow zone?  
  • Do you see a backswing? 
  • What is the angle of their paddle at contact? If the paddle face is open or angled up, that’s where the ball is going. 

When you put these characteristics together, you can anticipate attacks better. For example, if you dink a high bouncing ball and your opponent loads up a backswing and the contact point is in the yellow zone with the face of the paddle facing you, there’s a good chance the ball is coming your way and it’s a successful attack. Now you may be saying that all of this happens in milliseconds. Yes, but if you stick to the end, we’ll cover how you can get conditioned for seeing this.

Pickleball Tip #3: Responding to the Speed Up or Attack

When your opponent speeds up the ball at you, there are a few options you can take: you can let the ball go, you can reset the ball, or you can counter attack.

To learn about calling out balls, you can go here:

For learning about resets in pickleball, you can go here: 

However, if your opponent speeds up the ball and you see it coming, consider the counter attack with a block or a punch 

  • To do this, keep your paddle up and out, 
  • Your punch is compact, no more than 6-10 inches, 
  • When you make contact with the ball, it’s ideal to get the ball on the ground or at your opponent’s feet
  • Avoid swinging or following through too much because the ball will likely come back
  • Bonus pickleball tip: If you see that your opponent is targeting your body, you can slide or shift your body instead of turning your entire arm
  • If the ball is popped up, you can take a step back to give you more reaction time

BONUS Pickleball Tip: Get Conditioned to Speed-Ups

If you’re struggling with speed ups, there are things you can do to get conditioned and gain more confidence. 

  1. Bonus pickleball tip: Consider drilling your dinks and make sure you’re working on keeping your dinks unattackable and below the net. Hitting unattackable dinks can cut down on your opponent attacking you successfully.
  2. Bonus pickleball tip: Condition your eyes and body to fast balls. You can do this with a drill where your partner is speeding up the ball at you. In this drill, you read the ball and choose to let the ball go, counter attack, or reset the ball.
  3. Bonus pickleball tip: If you don’t have a drilling partner, you can also find a wall and practice reading shots there.

Recap: 3 Pickleball Tips for Winning Attacks at the Net 

What did you think of these pickleball tips? Let me know in the comments.

path to better pickleball

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