What is Tennis Pickleball? In short, it is how tennis players play pickleball. When they first play pickleball their game starts out almost as mini tennis. That is, their game is more tennis than pickleball.
Their natural transferable skills get them into the game of pickleball quite quickly and for most they transition without too much effort and grow to love the game so much that they become converts of it.
When tennis players then come up against competent picklers however, experience shows that they also need to learn quite quickly that there are some very important differences between the games.
However is not true to say that when you play tennis you play tennis and when you play pickleball you play pickleball because tennis compliments pickleball so much.
It simply means that tennis players have to adapt their game to be less tennis and more pickleball because a blatant tennis application will lose them games and stifle their progress.
When they do learn to implement ‘pickleball’ into their game they still retain the positives of their tennis picklaball game and this style of play and player is beginning to change the game quite markedly, particularly the game tempo which we can see with any reference to even the recent past.
So what is the tennis in the initial play of tennis pickleball?
There are a number of tennising (let that be a legitimate word and if not at least a descriptive word) traits that I see in tennis players playing pickleball?
· Power shot making
· Great long court footwork
· Aggressive point winning play
· Applying a degree of difficulty to shots through ball spin and court placement
And in the same breath tennis players have…
· Minimum patience and appropriate pickle game strategy
· Reluctance to the short game, dinking and short stroke play
· Legs all at sea for kitchen play
The tennis pickleball power shot which is born in great ‘long court footwork’ is an awesome shot to have in the bag and is very successful at the lower levels but tennis players need to have the ability to slow the game down at the higher levels or they will simply get frustrated and find it harder and harder to win.
Aggressive point winning play by default increases your chance of unforced errors and misses out on your opportunity to pressure your opponents into making their own mistakes and forced errors.
"Pickleball is a game of paces, both fast and slow and
is I think far more strategic than tennis"
While applying a degree of difficulty to shots through ball spin and court placement is nearly always a great play, their needs to be a degree of patience and appropriate game strategy of what shot to play and when because there should always be a 'why answer' or reasoning to every shot you play. This is the STRATEGY of pickleball.
It includes a long and short game, a power and soft touch game which means that as a tennis player you will need to learn to dink and dink often and to be able to occupy the proven shot winning line that we call the kitchen line.
Yes short stroke play is not really a tennis norm so learning a paddle up stance and net play strokes that don’t require a backswing but rather a push and the almost never played shot of DINKING is a must.
Occupying the kitchen line and many of the shots that are played there also requires an almost awkward leg stance, sideways movement similar to that of a crab and consequently requiring a player to make forward facing shots. This can initially find a tennis players ‘legs all at sea for kitchen play’ and the consequence is often a fault with breach of the Kitchen line and point lost!
A backwards rotation to play the ball is great but the very common forwards rotation to step into the ball too often sees you in the kitchen. Hence the short game of pickleball and the strategy of when to use it is a must learn for tennis players.
And when the tennis to pickleball transition is competently made by an already skilled tennis player you can start to understand why pickleball has changed and will continue to change to the exciting style of sport that we now see many of the top players playing.
The awesome and maybe somewhat unique ability to consistently drive a low, long ball and immediately slow play up with a kitchen dink from a half volley slammed at their feet changing the game from defensive to attacking in one shot is game changing ability and a must have skill to make it at the top.
Such is the tennis to pickleball influence on pickleball and a great example of these skills on display can be seen in this awesome 60 second video that has everything you want to see on the court – game strategy, patience, fast play, slow play, offense, defense, short game, long game, kitchen play, dinking, banging, and finally – a POINT WIN!.
Just to be sure also - this is not to say the players in this video are ex tennis players, however they do display the standard and skills that ex tennis players will need to have and gain to compete at the top level. Being competent at tennis already makes for complimentary transition to "Tennis Pickleball"
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