Valentines Day Giveaway – Agassi & Graf vs McEnroe & Sharapova in Pickleball – Placement Over Power

Universal Rackets Weekly Update!

Let’s Talk About Your Pickleball Game

Question: How Do You Know What Shot To Take In Pickleball?

Answer: Remember, the more variety you have in your pickleball tool belt, the higher the level of play you will conquer. For example, if you only have a drive because you refuse to learn the drop shot, low balls flying to your feet will result in a missed shot since your only option from your tool belt is a drive. Balls will consistently land in the net, causing you to lose more points and become frustrated because nobody wants to miss, right? When faced with a low ball at your feet, it is important to recognize geometry and physics in pickleball strategy. To return a low ball at your feet, you have no other choice but to lift the ball up and over the net. A drop shot is a perfect choice at this time. Now, depending on where you are standing on the court and the longevity of the point, we can call these “drops” different names. If this low ball at your feet is a return of serve and you properly lift the ball up and over the net and it lands in the kitchen, you just made a “3rd shot drop.” If the low ball at your feet happens to be a shallow drop while you’re standing at the kitchen and you decide to lift the ball from low to high in return, also landing the ball in the kitchen, you then just made a dink. Now that we understand a low ball at your feet needs to be lifted from low to high to maintain play, let’s think about how to handle a ball coming waist height or even higher. Developing a sense of court awareness is essential for shot selection. A soft floating ball to your forehand at the kitchen needs to be put away using a high-to-low motion. A drive can also be used when the ball bounces high enough for you to create space and use top spin as an aggressive attack against your opponents. The moral of the story for shot selection is to read the ball you have. Low and fast balls need to be lifted up and neutralized. High and soft balls should be attacked. A pro tip is also to become familiar with your opponents and quickly learn and target their weaknesses.

Click here to learn the #1 Reason Why Players Hit Drives Into The Net!

2 Drills To Master Shot Selection

#1 7-11 Doubles: In this dynamic doubles drill, one player starts at the kitchen while the second positions themselves at the baseline. The objective is for the kitchen player to reach 11 points before the baseline player hits 7. The game is played on half the court, with the middle line serving as the new boundary. The kitchen player initiates each point, requiring the first shot to clear the net. The baseline player must read the ball and employ strategic shots from their toolkit to work their way to the kitchen and finish the point. This drill enhances shot selection for both players, emphasizing attack (up high) and reset (low), with a focus on roll volleys.

#2 Slinky Drill 2.0: Starting with both players at the kitchen, this evolved slinky drill involves one player initiating a dink, followed by a reciprocal dink. After completion, the dinker takes a step back toward the baseline while the kitchen player remains in position. The second shot transitions into a drop, and the process repeats with incremental steps backward. The goal is to practice backward movement while consistently dropping the ball into the kitchen at different positions. Once the slinker reaches the baseline, the farthest drop initiates a point play, marked by the announcement of “2.0.” The game continues, with points counted only after the 2.0 challenge is declared. An advanced version adds the condition that the slinker can only move back a step if the drop successfully lands in the kitchen; otherwise, they remain in place until executing a satisfactory drop after a volley attempt by the kitchen player.

Click Here To Learn Our Transition Zone Drills

Click Here To Learn Our Kitchen Drills & Warmup

Agassi & Graf vs Sharapova & McEnroe is this Saturday!

This Saturday February 4th at 8:30p EST the Pickleball Slam will have tennis legends Maria Sharapova, Andre Agassi, Steffi Graf and John McEnroe battle it out and compete for a $1M cash purse at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida. This event will be airing live on ESPN. The Universal Rackets teams’s pick is Agassi & Graff to get the win! Who do you think will win? Let us know in the comments below.

One Of The Biggest Strategy Secrets In Pickleball:

Many new players get caught up in their form on court, but most times if your placement is accurate, form can be refined later. What we mean by this is placement is always superior to power. We often get questions about top-spin, slice, power and dinking, but the great questions come from a mindset of “where” should I aim the ball. An example would be “Where should I aim my return of serve?” Instead of “How can I hit more spin on my return?” A player can have a mediocre return of serve but place the ball right at their opponent’s weakness. For most players this is their backhand. If you’re able to hit a return of serve deep to the weaker player of the two players backhand, this strategy is far superior than hitting a return to the stronger player’s forehand with slice. The easiest way to win more points in pickleball is to put the ball where they’re not. This can seem simple reading it here, but think about this next time you play. How many of your shots went right to your opponent’s forehand? Did you force them to hit a shot they don’t like because you began the point with a plan of backhand placed returns. Often a well-placed shot will set your team up for those juicy high floating balls you get to put away with a slam. 

We refer to the kitchen as split in 3 section lanes per player. If you’re looking at the kitchen as a whole there are 6 lanes going across. When you are dinking at the kitchen, if all players are moving appropriately by following the ball with experienced court awareness, there will always be one lane open. It is impossible to fully cover all 6 at the same time. With this knowledge it is your job as a great player to find that lane and put your dinks in that area.

To put this into play— hit one dink up the line then the next dink goes far cross court to the opposite players corner. This creates big movement that will cause players to defend your shots instead of allowing them the opportunity to attack.

Our Valentines Day Giveaway!

Tyler and Michele will be giving away our favorite paddles, bags, balls and hats to 2 lucky winners! Winners will receive either Tyler or Michele’s 006 or Control Luxx paddle, Paris Todd Hat or Selkirk Amped Hat, Core Line Bag in any color & the ultra durable 1 year no-crack warranty Pro S1 Balls!

Click here for directions on how to win this awesome giveaway! 

Good luck:)

2024 Indoor Programming February Programs Are Here!

We are look forward to kicking off our 2024 season next week with the start of 30+ indoor Junior & Adult pickleball programs in 7+ locations including our new Center City Philadelphia location. 

Click here to view all February programs! 

PS Spring & Summer Programs will be announce soon:)

Lesson of the Week: How To Hit A Topspin Backhand Dink

Click here to view this week’s lesson

Thank you for reading and we can’t wait to see you on court!

-Universal Rackets

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