You have likely experienced it – probably more times than you care to admit. With all four players strategically positioned at the non-volley line, you and your partner are being extra careful to keep the dink low and unattackable when – wham – you’re given a painful, day-or-two-long reminder of the consequence of popping the ball up.
Top 5 Reasons You May be Popping the Ball Up (and possibly getting tattooed in the process)
So how do you avoid the dreaded pickleball tattoo? There are several reasons you may be popping the ball up. Here are five of the most common culprits.
1. You’re Changing Grips During the Dink & Volley Exchanges
Because exchanges are so quick at the non-volley line, it is preferable to only use one grip when positioned just seven feet from the net. The continental grip (hammer grip) is the grip that I recommend as it is a fairly neutral and pretty good grip for both the forehand and backhand.
If you’re frequently changing grips when positioned at the non-volley line, you run the risk of having an awkward grip as you transition from one grip to the other – and, consequently – of popping the ball up to your opponent for an easy put-away.
2. You’re Using Too Much Wrist
This is, arguably, the most common culprit for pickleball pop-ups. The wrist – while laid back – should be stable and firm as we execute shots from the non-volley line. Instead of manipulating the wrist, we should be making extensive use of the shoulder while the wrist stays firm.
3. You are Not Making Contact in Front of your Body
This is huge. When we make contact too much on the side of our body – or worse, behind our body – the balls tend to pop up. This occurs primarily because, with the ball behind us, we have to engage our wrists to attempt to get the ball over the net.
To make contact in front of our body it is imperative that we move our feet. Take that extra slide step to get in a better position to execute the shot and keep the ball in front of your body.
4. You are Holding the Paddle Too Tightly
A tight grip on the paddle often results in the ball careening off the paddle. Instead of white-knuckling your paddle while dinking, loosen your grip. Your paddle will absorb much of the energy of the ball and you’ll have much better control.
5. You’re Not Bending your Knees
Your posture as you make contact with the ball is important. Get in an athletic stance and be sure to bend your knees as you hit the ball. Get your nose over the ball as you make contact. Don’t stand straight up.
Nobody likes pop-ups – with the exception of your opponents. With the goal of giving your opponents balls that they cannot attack, make sure you’re using an appropriate grip, swinging from the shoulder (minimizing wrist action), making contact in front of your body, not death-gripping the paddle, and bending your knees.
Not only will this help you avoid pop-ups, but it will also likely prevent unwanted tattoos in the process!
See you on the courts!
Todd is the talent behind PickleballMAX. He knows pickleball and demonstrates it on the court as a 4.5 – 5.0 player. In addition to creating content and running the PickleballMAX business, Todd is IPTPA Level II certified. As an instructor at the Ohio Pickleball Academy, he instructs students and runs adult and youth clinics. He also manages tournament desks throughout the tri state for tournaments ranging from 100-500 participants.