Creating offensive opportunities and executing on these opportunities is a skill/mindset that is absolutely necessary to be successful on the pickleball court. It’s no longer a matter of just waiting for your opponent to make a mistake.
Being able to take a “neutral” ball and generate sufficient fire-power that puts your opponent on the defensive will generally win out in the long run. And striking a pose like that of a flamingo as you attack may very well help! But first things first.
The Offensive Mindset
There’s no doubt that playing soft and being able to reset balls is critical in your development as a pickleball player. However, being able to generate offensive opportunities and exploit these opportunities is equally as important.
In order to generate as many offensive opportunities as possible, you first want to make sure that you are positioned an inch or two behind the non-volley line at your first opportunity – immediately after the return-of-serve if you are the returning team (and split stepping thru the transition area if necessary) and after a well-placed drop shot(s) and accompanying split steps if you are the serving team.
By positioning yourself in such close proximity to the non-volley line you will be able to lean in and take your opponent’s dink shots or drop shots out of the air before they bounce.
Why Lean in and Take Balls out of the Air?
Taking shots out of the air before the ball bounces has a couple of significant advantages.
Firstly, it gives your opponent less time to react to your shot as the ball has a shorter distance to travel.
Secondly, because you’re leaning in and hitting the ball out of the air before it gets a chance to fully descend, it also gives you a better opportunity to hit the ball with a descending blow.
With a descending blow, you don’t have to worry about hitting the ball into the net. You can hit the ball as hard as you can – and because you’re hitting down on the ball (and you don’t have to hit “up” to get the ball over the net) that ball will stay in the court of play.
Watch your Momentum When Leaning In!
We do have to be a bit careful about committing non-volley zone faults as we lean into the non-volley zone. The USA Pickleball rules state that, although we cannot enter the non-volley zone to hit a volley, we are nevertheless permitted to reach over the line and hit it – as long as our feet are behind the line.
The official rules also state that the momentum from the act of volleying cannot take you into the non-volley zone.
Strike a Flamingo-Like Pose to Balance and Counter-Balance!
So if we are offensive-minded, we are, therefore, looking to be aggressive from the non-volley line and attack neutral balls by leaning in and hitting as many balls as we can without letting it bounce. But, we don’t want to lose our balance when executing the volley as we will commit a fault.
To attack neutral balls out of the air and stay balanced, many will strike a flamingo-like pose – balancing on the left foot, getting full extension forward, and using the back leg as a counter-balance.
Give it a try. Let me know how it works!
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.