Trust me, I’ve been on the receiving end of targeting in pickleball when playing with higher-level players. They may not think they are targeting, but their natural instinct is to find the weaker player and force them into tough situations.
One of the toughest situations I find myself in is when I am consistently popping the ball up. Pop-ups are some of the most frustrating shots you can hit. A pop-up is a high arching slowly hit the ball. It often results in your opponent smashing plastic right at you. If you’re lucky enough to return the smash, it’s often a pop-up back to them, in what feels like a never-ending loop of pickleball sadness.
I’ve noticed a couple of things when I feel like I am consistently popping the ball up. Here are the 3 reasons why you may be popping it up.
- Swing Speed & Follow Through
- I am marveled at the pros’ ability to engage in dink battles. What I noticed is the pros hardly pop up a dink because they take a soft approach and follow through to their target. When I start to pop up the ball it is often a fast flick where I am quickly pulling back, rather than following through.
- I am able to reach a good amount of balls with my length, this can be great in pickleball, but it can also lead to sloppy footwork. What I’ve noticed with higher-level play is that the best do not take shortcuts with their footwork. They don’t cheat towards the lines when they are engaged in a dink battle, no matter how many times their opponent hits towards the lines. They consistently reset to the middle and shuffle back to the lines. This allows them to always be in a ready position, rather than starting to reach out. I’ve noticed when I get lazy with footwork that I often reach and cannot softly follow through on my hit, which results in that “flick” motion, which often leads to pop-ups.
- My biggest flaw is most likely my aggression. I find myself often getting frustrated so I start to mentally and physically tighten up. This has a direct effect on my paddle. How many times have you gotten mad and just made a fist? Whether you realize it or not, it happens. We call this white-knuckling. When this happens, you are tightening your grip on the paddle, which causes you to have more bounce off your paddle leading to pop-ups. Dial down the aggression and loosen your grip when the pop-ups keep coming.
These are just 3 reasons I’ve noticed when playing and watching pickleball. I’m sure these may resonate with your game, but you may have others as well. Let me know some of the reasons you’ve noticed you keep popping the ball up.