|Yeah, by this guy, I guess we’re a “senior center” with lots of 50+ folks, so maybe we should read this piece reminding us of the basics of pickleball play (it’s also what we repeatedly discuss at the mini-clinics here at IRCC).
“Interesting Novice experience for PB instructor:
I, along with a few others, teach Novice and Intermediate PB at a local senior center (50+). Recently, I had surgery on my right hand (I am right-handed). I couldn’t stand not playing pickleball, so for two weeks I played left handed during our Novice sessions. Because of the bandage on my right hand, it was obvious I was not just goofing around or showing off. I did not do any teaching while I played. My overall left-handed skill set was similar to theirs. I was already aware of how novices played, but there was something magical about experiencing it first hand on the court that increased my awareness on how to better instruct them during lessons.
Items confirmed during my novice play (in my two week sample size): Novices do not attempt 3rd shot drops (zero), even though about ½ of these novice players had been exposed to that shot during lessons. They do not dink, they play several feet behind the kitchen line, (some even further back), they like to drive every ball as hard as they can, and a high percentage of their balls are shoulder or head high, and lots go out, and most points are lost due to unforced errors, not winners.
After this experience, the following is where I would increase emphasis to novices in our lessons (along with other normal basic strokes/techniques) if they want to improve, and win more games right away:
– Start moving all the way to the kitchen line at every opportunity, if you control the kitchen line, then you control the point and most likely the game. Even older novices with mobility issues can start moving their way to the kitchen line vs. staying in no man’s land or at the baseline.
– When you drive a ground stroke or volley the ball, hit it at 80 – 90% instead of 100%, this will give you more accuracy and your ball will go lower over the net and make it harder to return, and you will have fewer unforced errors (placement over power).
– When you volley or hit an overhead, “aim” the ball at the opponent’s feet or open space (have a target) instead of just trying to whack it as hard as you can, this will result in fewer unforced errors.
– Don’t go for big winners all the time (this is lots of fun for novices); just try to keep the ball on the court. Just get the ball over and let the other team make the mistake.
– And try your best to serve deep and return deep.
So, besides serving and returning deep (which I would emphasize more in lessons), all of these items do not really require too much extra physical skill to perform, only awareness of a little different way to play, which could result in improving their game pretty quickly.