Road To Pro – Week 3


Welcome back to the Road to Pro! This week I’m sharing valuable pickleball knowledge with you. I’ve been compiling a massive list of tips for you, all combined into two separate videos. But, before those videos go live, I’m going to share my favorite tips right now with all 528 of you on this journey with me.

Let’s go!

Tip Highlight

One of the most effective ways to take your pickleball game to the next level is to have a pre-set strategy. You and your partner should have 2-3 strategies that you are able to easily implement in game play. Once you find a strategy that works, continue using it until your opponents prove they can handle it.

Below, I’ve provided breakdowns of four various strategies for different levels of play.

Beginner Strategy: The Weak Spot

This is a basic strategy that everyone needs to have. Hit every ball to the backhand of the weaker player. Most pickleball players tend to struggle more with their backhand rather than with their forehand. If you play below the 4.0 level, one of the easiest systems you can establish is to identify which opponent has the weaker backhand, and then hit every ball to that spot. If it’s a dink, they’ll pop it up. If it’s a speed-up, they’ll hit it into the net. If it’s an overhead, they’ll fire it out of bounds. Find your opponent’s weak spot, and target it every chance you get.

Intermediate Strategy: The Drive & Drop

Drive the third shot with intention instead of attempting a drop. This is a very effective strategy for 4.0-4.5 players. Hitting a good third shot drop off of the return of serve can be challenging; instead, send a drive to the area around your opponent’s hip on their forehand side. When fast balls are hit to this area, it often causes a player to “chicken wing.”

This is usually caused because of a player’s delayed decision to either return the drive with their backhand, or switch to their forehand. This shot will either win the point outright, or enable you to set yourself up for an easy fifth shot drop that will allow you to approach the kitchen.

Pro Strategy #1: The Poacher

Identify which of your opponents is more likely to poach, and return it to that player. By hitting your returns to the more active player, you will force them to stay back longer, which means they will have less opportunities to poach on the fourth shot. Many players try to keep the ball away from the more active player; however, this gives them the chance they need to get into position quicker and poach more balls.

Pro Strategy #2: The Edge

If your opponents are hitting every third shot to you rather than to your partner, then always return the ball to the opponent in front of you. This will pressure them to hit a third shot drop down the line, which is slightly harder than hitting it cross-court. This small difference could be the edge you’re looking for to enhance your game even further.

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On The Rise

My training this week consisted of: watching some of my previous matches, one-on-one drilling sessions on the court, and playing some skilled players in singles.

Back in December, I filmed a few singles matches I played against a pro. I have been watching and critiquing these matches, and have been compiling what I’ve learned into a video, so that I can share a collection of tips with all of you.

Back home, I was able to get a court drilling session in with my coach. Then I headed to Minnesota where I will be creating and filming content with Sammy Lee and Chris Olson. Both of these guys are incredible players, and I plan to train with both of them in singles to see how I can get better.

As I’ve shared before, my first goal is to win a 5.0 gold medal in singles. We have two opportunities on the calendar, including:

March: APP in Miami

May: PPA in Atlanta

Q&A Spotlight

I’ve been taking Q/A requests through my Instagram. Here is a great question a reader asked:

How can I master third shot drops? I keep hitting the ball too high over the net!

Answer: A common misconception is that your third shot drops have to be perfectly placed right over the net and unattackable. This is extremely difficult to accomplish consistently, and even the pros hit high drops occasionally. In my opinion, the key to mastering the third shot drop is more about getting comfortable resetting from the transition zone. Even if you hit a ball too high on the third shot, if you can be comfortable returning balls from the transition zone, then it’s rare you’ll get punished for a high third drop.

Feed Favorites

This past week, I released a video on the Cracked Pickleball YouTube Channel entitled “Return Like a PRO With THIS Technique in Pickleball.” Go check it out!

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