Pickleball Tips | How to Upgrade Your Pickleball Defense with Block Shots in 5 Easy Steps

Written by Adam (HV)

February 22, 2022

pickleball tips, pickleball defense

Sometimes in pickleball, we get in trouble. You may hit the ball high and your opponent sends it back at you with pace. In these moments, if you can’t counter, your goal is to reset the shot back into your opponent’s kitchen. But this is easier said than done.

Today we’ll cover a few pickleball tips that will help you hit consistent resets so you can improve your defense, stay in the rally, and win more points. 

What is the Reset Shot or Block Shot?

The goal of this shot is to absorb the pace from a fast ball and to neutralize your opponent by returning an unattackable shot back into their non-volley zone. It’s important to know that this shot has simple mechanics, but because it is so simple, it feels counter-intuitive. Your instincts may tell you to counter-attack every fast ball, but that’s not always possible. Sometimes you must actively choose to play defense. To do this, you must be patient and keep the ball in play. 

1. Establish Your Lower Body

When you’re at the non-volley zone, you’ll want to establish your feet, bend your knees and balance your weight evenly. You should not be leaning back or to the side. A strong base and lower center of gravity will help you absorb the ball better.

2. Anticipate Your Opponent’s Shots

To play good defense, you must keep your eyes on the ball and watch for any signals your opponent sends. What does their paddle angle, body mechanics, and their backswing tell you? By engaging your mind, you can anticipate your opponent’s attacks and block them.

Game time pickleball tips: If this is a new shot for you, your natural reaction may be to counter attack every shot, but that’s not always possible. To override this tendency, try stepping into a game telling yourself to be patient, and focus on blocks and resets. If you need help with timing your shots, check out the video I did on hitting smart shots. I’ll put the link in the description.

3. Paddle Up

It is much easier to block a fast ball when your paddle is up. Your paddle should be at around chest height between 10-12 oclock.

Game time pickleball tips: If you can anticipate your opponent’s shot, position your paddle in a way that gives you the best advantage. For example, if you know your opponent likes to aim for your chest, have your back hand ready.

4. Make Contact Out Front

It’s difficult to block the ball from behind your body, so keep the ball out front. When you’re blocking, let the ball come to you. Your arm should be stable and the paddle should do the work for you to absorb the pace. This means you’re not swinging and you make contact in the sweet spot of your paddle.

Game time pickleball tips: Your paddle face should be slightly open to keep from hitting the ball into the net.

5. Use Soft Hands

Your grip pressure should be 3-4.

Game time pickleball tips: If you continually hit the ball up, your grip is likely too tight or your paddle is facing up. Learn more about grip pressure here.

Pickleball Tips for Using the Reset in Games

As you step onto the court and use the block shot, use these pickleball tips to give your resets an edge:

  • If you need more time to react to fast balls, you can take a step back. One step could make a big difference in your reaction time. But after you block, be sure to get back to the NVZ. 
  • The team to get the ball on the ground in a fast-paced volley war is likely to be the team that wins the rally. This is because it’s much harder to reset a face-paced shot off the ground. 
  • Don’t give up – if a ball is popped up in a rally, you may want to give up and get out of the way to avoid getting hit with the ball, but if you can get your paddle on the ball and survive the attack, you improve your chances of winning the rally.

path to better pickleball

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