Be ready, be steady!

cropped-for-tee-chip.pngWhat is ready position, and why is it so important?  Seems like a really foolish question, doesn’t it!  Everyone knows that you need to be in a ready position in order make your best shot. Yup, we all know it.  Next time you are waiting for a game, look at the players on the courts.  I bet you’ll see many standing straight up with their paddles hanging next to their knees.  Do they look ready?  Are they consistently able to return shots hit to their backhand or above their head?  What about you?  Are you doing the same thing?

Be ready!

Ready position is the stance you need to be in when you are preparing to hit the ball.  Not everyone in the pickleball world agrees on one best position, but there are some things most DO agree on:

  • Feet shoulder width apart
  • Knees bent
  • Slight bend forward at the hips
  • Weight slightly forward on the balls of your feet
  • Paddle up in front of your chest

In this position, your muscles are engaged and ready move to your opponents shot.

So, what don’t they agree on?

The part of the ready position that is not agreed upon by everyone is the position the paddle.  I think all will agree that the paddle needs to be in front of your body and chest high, but there are differences of opinion on whether the paddle should be pointing towards your opponent, or if the face should be parallel with the net.  Let’s look at both positions:

  • Paddle face towards the net – In this position, your paddle is parallel to the net. You are basically holding your paddle in the backhand position.  Some feel that with the paddle in this position you are able to get to ¾ of the shots hit at you without having to change to the forehand.  If you are right handed, the only time you need to switch to your forehand would be to hit a ball that was up and to the right of your head.
  • Paddle pointed at your opponent – In this position, the paddle is perpendicular to the net. You are able to quickly move your paddle in any direction; to the forehand or backhand, high or low with minimal movement in order to hit your shot

paddle position

(Photos courtesy of Jojobapickleball.com)

No matter what paddle position you choose, the important part is that you hold it in front of you and chest high, not hanging down at your side. With your knees bent and your weight slightly forward on the balls of your feet, you will be able to change positions right, left or back more quickly.

Be steady!

It is important that your feet are steady when you hit the ball.  Do not run through your shot!  The energy of body movement will be transferred into the ball when you hit it, making it more difficult to control your shot.  As soon as your opponent is about to strike the ball, STOP and get into your ready position.  YES, STOP!  Even if you are in the back court or no man’s land.  Once you have made your shot, continue moving forward towards the kitchen line, even if you can only take one step at a time.

It takes a conscious effort to get into a ready position, especially if you have been playing standing straight up.  But it will improve your shot making.

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