If you’re new to pickleball, you know
that there is no shortage of advice, especially when it comes
to the non-volley zone. Someone tells you run up as fast as you
can and then the next person says, no, no, stay back. It’s no wonder we’re confused and it’s
one of the most common questions that I get. If you’re not sure how to get from
the baseline to the non volley zone, that’s one of the easiest
strategies in pickleball. Stay tuned Hey everybody it’s CJ Johnson. If you’re confused about how to transition
from the baseline to the non-volley zone, you probably should
be. When we’re new, we don’t always understand that there
is a difference between the serving team and the returning team. It’s a little bit more complex for the
serving team because of the double bounce rule, but for the returning team, it’s probably the simplest
strategy to master in pickleball. Let’s break it down into two parts and
let’s start with the simplest one first, how to get from the baseline to the
non-volley zone when you’re the returning team. Before we get to that, if
you’re new to this channel, welcome. We talk about all things pickleball
from gear to instruction with a special focus on the player who’s over 50. If you don’t want to
miss any upcoming videos, make sure to hit the subscribe button
and then the bell notification, that way you’ll know
when a new one is posted. Here’s the basic strategy, when you are the returning team. Run
to the kitchen as fast as you can. Think hit and run. I often think that
when people are learning a new skill, they get confused because
it’s not just about the skill. They need to know why they’re
doing it and when they’re doing it. So let’s start with those. Why do you want to hit and run
when you’re the returning team? It’s a tactical advantage. When one team is at the non-volley
zone and the other isn’t, they’ve shortened the distance between
the teams and taken away the opposing team’s most precious
resource, time to react. That means that the team at the
non-volley zone controls the point. Now, let’s talk about the when. Whenever you are the returning
team think hit and run. It’s important that you
stopped to hit the shot. You need to stop your
body’s forward momentum. That way you’ll be more
consistent. After you hit the shot, make a beeline and get as far as
you can to the non-volley zone. Next, let’s talk about the how. There are a couple strategies that you
can use to get from the baseline to the non-volley zone when you’re the returner.
Some of those depend on your speed. One of those strategies is the soft deep
return and I covered that in detail in a video that you’ll find up
here a couple of weeks ago. The other strategy to
use is the split step. So after you hit your shot
as you’re running forward, you might not get all the way to the
non-volley zone and that’s where you utilize the split step. The split step is simply a move where
you split your feet and bounce on the balls of your feet. What that does is it stops your forward
momentum and it allows you to move side to side. You want to make sure that you stop and
split step when you see your opponent ready to hit the shot.
After you’ve done that, then move forward all the
way to the non-volley zone. If you want some more
detail on the split step, make sure that you check out this video. One of the questions
I’m often asked is CJ, I understand the importance of
getting to the non-volley zone, but I play with these people
who are really good at lobbing. I feel that if I stayed
back at the baseline, I have a better chance of
returning that lob. Okay. I can understand the logic behind
that and well, it seems logical, that’s not what I usually see in practice. Players become accustomed to staying at
the baseline no matter what type of shot is hit. That creates a split between the partners
and that’s the weakest position a team can be in. It also gives your opponents, the serving team a chance to get all
the way to the non-volley zone and then take control of the point. Now you’ve given up the advantage
you have as the returning team. Here’s the other reality. The lob from the baseline is
not a high percentage shot. Now I’m not saying that some players
don’t hit it and hit it very well. There are a couple of strategies that you
might be able to use if you’re playing against one of them. I think perhaps the simplest strategy
is if you’re playing against someone who hits a great lob return
the ball to their partner. Chances are that both partners do
not hit the lob equally as well. Here’s tip number two. While
you’re coming up to the net, make sure to watch the paddle face. In order to hit the lob. The
paddle face needs to be open. Now it can look like a third shot, but frankly most people except for the
top level players don’t disguise it that well. If you think you see an open paddle
face and that the shot might be a lob, utilize that split step right away.
By stopping your forward momentum, you’re going to make it easier to
turn around and go backward to defend, if it happens to be a lob. And the last thought is
rely on your partner. Depending upon the direction
and the trajectory of the lob, you might not be the one who
should turn around to get it. That may just be your partner’s shot.
Remember, if you’re the returning team, hit and run, come back next week and we will be
talking about what to do when you’re the serving team. In the meantime, click the like button or share this
with a pickleball playing friend because together we can Train Smart,
Live Bold and Age Well.

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Dennis Veasley

4 thoughts on “Pickleball Strategy For Beginners-When to Run to the Net”

  1. One common mistake beginners do is to play too far forward on the return of serve. Most pickleball instructors teach a deep serve. Beginners tend to think that just behind the line service line is the best place to stand to return the serve. The results is that deep serves land close to their feet and they hit the ball as they are backing up. Many times this awkward hit is too short, and attackable by the serving team. So stay back and allow enough room for a deep bounce, especially if the current server has burnt you with a deep serve before.

  2. I have been saying "return and run" in my classes, but like "hit and run" a lot better. Thanks so much for all you do!

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