You constructed a brilliant pickleball point – or so you thought. After a perfectly executed drop shot that neutralized your opponent and brought you and your partner to the non-volley line, a dinking battle ensued. Slide right. Slide left. Twelve dinks are exchanged back and forth with little, if any, opportunity for either team to attack.
And then it happens. Your opponent blinks – a juicy, non-purposeful dink sitting just below net level – a perfect ball to go on the offensive. With as much deception as you can muster, you speed the ball up to their paddle side shoulder. You can taste it. With what you think is a perfectly placed ball, they are certainly going to have to chicken-wing your attack and a resulting pop-up is sure to follow. Yum! Yum!
Unfortunately, your opponent had other ideas. A split second before you make contact with the ball for the speed-up, your opponent does something that you really hadn’t seen before. They squat low, raise their paddle above their head, and, then – whamo – they smack the ball as if hitting an overhead. It’s hit right at your feet – a perfect counter-attack! You never saw it coming. In the blink of an eye, you went from celebrating the attack to falling victim to a better counter-attack – also known as the scorpion.
What is the Scorpion?
In pickleball parlance, the scorpion is a counter-attack shot in which the attacked player (positioned at the non-volley line) squats low to the court, raises their paddle above their head, and smashes the ball back at their opponent’s feet or into the open court.
Why and When to Hit the Scorpion?
The scorpion is a great counter-attack option when you are positioned at the non-volley line and your opponent speeds up the ball right at you – particularly when they speed up a ball that is low.
Without squatting or crouching low to execute the scorpion, the sped-up ball would have likely been hit at your chest or shoulder and your best counter would have, at best, been an awkward block back into your opponent’s non-volley zone – a very defensive shot – and a difficult one at that. At worst, you would have been chicken-winged and popped up a weak ball that your opponent would have cleaned up with their next shot.
Final Thoughts on the Scorpion
By crouching low with the paddle up you are able to be much more offensive-minded. In essence, you can turn a difficult-to-execute defensive block into a mini-overhead!
Start incorporating the scorpion into your game. While not the most graceful, it’s a shot that will turn defense into offense in the blink of an eye!
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.