Pickleball basics—Stop, Hit and Move

Posted by Jennifer Lucore

stophitmovePickleball 101—do not rush and run through your shot to get to the kitchen (non-volley) line, you should Stop, Hit and Move. This is a pickleball basic and one of the first lessons that should be taught in a good pickleball clinic or class.

The overall goal when playing is ALWAYS to get yourself to the kitchen line. It may take you one shot or four to actually get yourself there, and that is okay, but you must Stop, Hit and Move on each shot as you move forward to the line.

Let´s dissect this process that really only takes a few seconds:

The ball is heading your way. You Stop— get yourself set up and positioned to strike the ball. About half a second to get yourself balanced. You concentrate only on hitting the ball. You Hit the ball. Strike the ball a bit in front or to your side—never behind you. Then you Move forward.

Top players (5.0 skill level) do this automatically; subconsciously they Stop, Hit and Move. It is part of their built in skill set and when watching them play the process looks seamless and effortless. Watch these players from the sidelines or a video and focus on their feet and forward movement.

The phrase Stop, Hit and Move actually comes from my dad, Bob Youngren. In his classes he does a whimsical demonstration showing this process. He adds in a bit of a shuffle and hip moving—which will make you laugh, yet will give you the visual reminder of what to do.

Picklebal Doubles Strategy

Posted by Jennifer Lucore

doublesarticleDoubles- arguably the most popular category to play in the pickleball world. Four players battling away… now that is some fun stuff!

Here are three strategies in playing pickleball doubles that I know can help a team. My doubles partnership with Alex Hamner has been a wonderful ride of friendship and victory. We have lots of strategies we use and the following are some key ones we´d like to think helped us win gold for the fourth year in a row in Open Doubles at the USAPA Nationals. It could be our strategies, but probably a little luck mixed in too.

Strategy #1—We never play our opponents. Many teams play the opponent, whereas they should be playing the ball. Always react to where the ball is going, what the ball is doing and what you are doing to the ball.

Strategy #2—It´s imperative to block out any visual noise from the other side of the court. Maybe the opponent is jumping around, poaching, faking a shot or charging the net; block it all out and focus only on the ball. Those of you that personally know me can agree that I enjoy socializing and meeting new people, but when it´s game time I´m focused. I rarely see who is in the crowd and never look beyond the court… okay maybe to find the wind sock or flag to check wind direction.

Strategy #3—Play the holes. We hit the shot where they are not. When we see our opponents out of position we quickly capitalize; bring the shot down the line, up the middle or even a drop shot when they are behind the baseline. We look for the holes and place the shot with either touch or power. It can be that easy. A quick scan of opponents locations allows you to pick the hole and BOOM hit it where they aren´t!

The Volley

Posted by Robert Elloitt

Volleying correctly is a very important facet of the game. Most people add too much movement to their ´volley´. Remember, ´less is more´. The simpler you keep it, the stronger and better your volleys will be.

graphic-10Body Stance (the ´ready position´)
Similar to most sports, you want to have your ´center of gravity´ on the balls of your feet.

  • Bend your knees (with your feet approximately shoulders width apart)
  • Lean slightly forward (so your body weight and balance shifts to the ´balls´ of your feet)
  • Paddle out front of you (with your elbows slightly bent)
  • Shoulders square with the net (your chest should be facing the net)
  • Paddle face/head should be above your wrist (this ensures the ball trajectory is upward)

This body position will keep you nimble and quick.

The ´Focal Point´
It is very important to know where to make contact with the ball. The ´focal´ point is where your body is the strongest, ball contact will be more consistent and your volley will be the most solid.

The ´focal point´ (or point where you make contact with the ball) is in front of your body and slightly to the side (the ideal volley contact point is not directly in front of you).

Body Movement
(how to get to the ball so you can volley correctly)

You must move your feet (you never want to hit a volley while lunging). Remember, the ball will very rarely (if ever) be hit to you where you don´t have to move.

To maintain, proper body positioning (square to the net) step with your foot that´s on the same side of your body as the side you are hitting the ball.

NOTE: if you turn your shoulders so you are perpendicular with the net (or your back is facing the net) it will be very easy for your opponent to hit the next ball behind you.


  • As noted above, always remember ´less is more´. Also, a ´volley´ is a ´punch´, not a swing.
  • Your paddle should always start and finish in front of your body (never take a back swing, which means bringing your paddle back so it is in line or behind your body)
  • Paddle face toward the target (point the face of the paddle toward your target)
  • Paddle head should be above your wrist (if the ball is low, bend your knees more to ensure paddle face remains above wrist)
  • Punch forward 1-3 inches always ensuring your paddle face continues to point toward your intended target (there is ´NO´ swinging in the volley, simply ´punch´ forward)
    • Note: If you swing, your timing has to be perfect to hit the ball in. If you are late or early, your paddle face is pointing to the side of the court, and that´s where the ball will go. By simply pointing your paddle face toward the target and punching forward, if you are late or early, your paddle face is still pointing toward the target.
  • Freeze for 1 second at the end of your volley (this ensures your paddle face remains/ends pointing toward the target.
    As you punch forward, keep your ´center of gravity´ on the balls of your feet (you should never be standing straight up or leaning backward).
  • Remember to always hit the ball at the ´focal points´. If you make contact outside of your ´focal point´ (ie: lunging), simply block the ball back by stiffening your wrist (to absorb the energy) and hold your paddle firm (freezing your paddle movement) to simply block the ball back (do not swing / punch). ´Less is more´.

Quick Tips

  • Improving your ´Ready Position´ (to have a stronger stance).
    Get in your ´ready´ position. To test the strength of your stance, have a friend face you and push slightly on your shoulder. You should be able to stay on the balls of your feet.
  • Practicing the ´Focal Point´.
    When practicing volleying. Start with paddle in the ´focal point´. Keep it there while you are practicing volleys (do not take it back to the ready position). This will create ´muscle´ memorization.
  • Body movement
    Practice moving without hitting the ball. Get in ready position. Practice stepping sideways ensuring your shoulders stay mostly square with the net. If one shoulder is in front of the other or your back is facing the net, you know you have turned too much.
  • The ´Volley´
    At home, practice volleying (to create muscle memorization and to dramatically improve your game). In front of a mirror. Place paddle in ´focal point´. Ensure paddle is facing imaginary ball/target. Punch forward 1-3 inches. Freeze at the end of the punch for 1 second (this ensures the paddle face is facing your imaginary target). Repeat till you master this.

Don´t do pickleball drills

Posted by Jennifer Lucore

graphic-9Don´t do pickleball drills. What does that mean? Everywhere you look new pickleball video drills and instructions are coming up across the web and to your neighborhood. This is good that more are talking about drills because let´s face it, there is a big demand from pickleball players on how to get to the next level and better their skill set and game. Players across the world are hungry for resources, teachers, instruction and drills… I love that! Means this sport keeps growing and passionate pickleball players are popping up everywhere.

Don´t do pickleball drills… alone. Yes, I know you need at least two people to drill but when you drill the best thing you can do is have another player, ideally a certified pickleball teaching professional, OBSERVE you in action to make sure you are DOING THE RIGHT THING. Drills are a repetition of practicing and perfecting the same shot—so when it´s game time this shot comes automatically. But if you drill incorrectly, then you are reinforcing the wrong technique—thus your time and effort was just wasted (although you did get exercise, so that is a plus).

So if and when you drill—don´t assume you are doing it right, have a certified pickleball teaching professional by your side and then work smart with your time on the court.

My personal experience on this… Whenever my dad (Bob Youngren) is in town and we are together for pickleball play or tournament, I ask him to watch me. Him observing my shots only really happens 2-3 times a year, but I will take what I can get. I was drilling on backhand dinks with Alex Hamner, and about 10 minutes into it I was feeling great, the dinks rallies lasted 50—60 shots.. Good right? Wrong. Dad says “you are reaching out to get the ball instead of letting the ball come to you” Oh, I am…I had no idea, I was focusing on my footwork and getting it over one more time and not also thinking of paddle placement and contact… So that is an example of why you want someone to observe when you are doing pickleball drills.  Be smart and don´t drill without eyes watching you.