There are 2 shots I’m keeping counting stats for in 2022, and those are Ernes and ATPs. If you’ve spent any time around the Dink Tank, you’ve surely caught onto our love for all things Erne. But even though we don’t hype up the ATP quite the same way, don’t think for a minute that it’s any less loved or important.
A couple of main points about the ATP:
-First, my ATPs come in higher-level games. To get a chance to hit an ATP, you need an opponent to hit a shot from an acute angle that hits close to the sideline and has enough pace to it to clear the post. It takes a pretty skilled player to hit a shot like that, and I rarely (if ever) find a novice to hit the aforementioned shot, but in games against 4.0+ opponents, I find I get at least one chance per session.
-Second, the hardest part (for me) to start hitting ATPs was recognizing when, in fact, I was set up for an ATP. It happens fast and a player needs composure. Even if I was skilled enough as a beginner to pull the shot off in theory, I didn’t always recognize it quickly enough or maintain my composure to actually pull it off.
Experience is the best teacher for the ATP set up, and as I played more, I started to recognize more quickly when there was daylight to clear the post and hit an ATP. However, my ATP plays got a boost when I got 2 extra tips from a wisened pickleball veteran:
-Let the ball fall as close to the ground as possible before you hit it. This references back to the composure I talked about earlier, but the more time you can buy yourself before hitting the ball, the more room you’re going to have around the post to hit the ball in bounds.
-Practice hitting ATPs on balls that land out of bounds. Sure, it’s annoying to your opponents to have to chase down a ball you just called out on them, but there’s also no other time to practice the shot in game-like conditions. You could have your buddy hit you a bunch of balls that you can then hit around the post, but the main issue of hitting ATPs is the recognition and the composure, which are both removed if you know the ball is already set up for you. But hitting an ATP that’s only an inch or two out- that’s GREAT practice for your next actual ATP. And if your opponents get bothered by this, it might be time to find new opponents that better appreciate ATPs.
Like the Erne, the ATP feels extra-good…kind of like dunking on your opponent in basketball (I’d imagine). And like the Erne, it’s mostly unreturnable (in rec play, at least- egads, pros are getting good at returning ATPs). If you want to start hitting them, you’d best start recognizing when ATPs present themselves, start having composure when they are available and practice them every chance you get on out balls.