Pickleball is about strategy and skills – one of those skills is, slowing down the game. You may be wondering why we would even be discussing slowing the game down when pickleball seems to be a game of rapid-fire dinks and adrenaline-pumping smashes, but we’re here to tell you that learning how to slow the game down will lead to more victories.
There are three main reasons to slow the game down
- It gives you more time to get a better shot
- Your shots become harder for your opponent to attack
- It gives you more time to get to the Non-Volley Zone / Kitchen
It’s best to try to slow the game down during a non-threatening shot, like a return of serve, third shot drop, or a dink. Be diligent to watch what your partner is doing and where they are hitting the ball. This gives you a lot of information; you will know where the ball is going and where you should move to be in a good position to be ready for your opponent’s next shot.
If the ball looks attackable, make sure you communicate with your partner. Say “Good!” or “Go!” to let them know it’s a good time to approach the net. The better the communication, the more comfortable you and your partner will be about moving to the net together.
When dinking, it is important to not make any unnecessary movements – watch your partner’s hit to determine where to move. Being aware of each other’s movements helps slow the game down more than you would think. So, if your partner hits crosscourt, stay on your side and over your sideline. If she’s pulled off the court, anticipate a down-the-line dink and cover the middle.
The all-important split step will help slow the game down too. We know that the split step helps reset the body’s balance after a shot, but it also helps you be ready to reach for a fast, incoming ball.
Make a plan with your partner, and even yourself, before you take the court or before each point. Scan the court and plan your next shot. Keep your eyes on the ball until after you make contact, this helps keep your head down and will improve the placements of your shots. Taking your eyes off the pickleball means you’re probably worried about where your ball is headed or what your opponents are doing. Don’t get distracted, focus on yourself and what you have to do, and the pickleball.
Work on the slow game and see your game jump to a whole new level.
We recently wrote a blog post on How to Beat a Pickleball Banger. This is another great article to help with slowing down the game.