Paddle Preparation, by Sarah Ansboury

APRIL 3, 2019
I recently wrote about having a clear intention when you hit a shot by finishing the shot. But in fact, it all begins with paddle preparation.

paddle preparation


Time and again we feel a sense of urgency on the court. This causes us to focus on simply getting the ball over the net rather than exactly what our intention is for the ball and for our recovery. I wrote previously about freezing when you drill to analyze whether or not you are truly finishing the shot, are in balance, etc. But today we are going to talk about something that happens a bit earlier…paddle preparation.


I talk and write a lot about paddle tracking as the first step to proper preparation on the court. In fact, this is so important that I dedicated an entire video to the subject. When players think about paddle tracking they think about tracking the ball with they are in the ready position. However, tracking expands to ball preparation as well.

I find a common issue for players is late paddle preparation. Often I see a player wait until the ball is about to bounce before they begin to drop their paddle into position. This is too late! If the ball has crossed the net and you have not started to prepare your paddle then you will most likely be late. When tracking the ball I am going to use the tip of my paddle … pointing at the ball all the way until it gets to my paddle.


You see this often when players step back or take too big a backswing. Either causes them to wait until the ball is dropping and slows down. They then lift the ball, often jamming themselves and pop up the ball. Instead, I want to be able to take the ball at its highest point in front of me.

To accomplish this I want to start moving my paddle, following the direction of the shot, as soon as my opponent strokes the ball. This enables my paddle to stay in front of me. You may recall, I wrote previously about the 3 Keys to Pickleball Court Position:

Paddle in front;
Ball in front;
Court in front.

Too often we make this game far more difficult than we need to. I find that working to improve on the fundamentals has far more benefit to our game than trying to learn a shot we observed in another player. This week as you practice, focus on your paddle preparation. Open the face of your paddle toward the ball on every shot. Control that paddle face from the moment the ball is stroke toward to increase your consistency with direction and net clearance.

Content retrieved from:

Leave a Comment