It all starts with control.
Learning how to control your physical body is a big part of pickleball. Whether it's footwork, soft hands or relaxation, learning how to add more finesse into your game will pay dividends.
From the feet up.
When we talk about finesse and control, what we're really talking about is footwork. Everything starts with your feet. If your feet are messed up, everything else will be as well.
Believe it or not, the simpler your footwork, the better. I know that seems ridiculous, but it's true. Here are some general guidelines on footwork.
- Never cross over your feet unless you're attempting an extremely angled backhand slice. Example: If you get a dink to your backhand (right-handed), don't cross you right foot over to get it. Just step your left foot to the side.
- Get your feet set after every shot. Remember, the whole point of dinking in pickleball is to manipulate the positioning of the defense. Your opponents want your footwork to get messed up. Don't give them that pleasure. Instead, reset your feet comfortably after every shot.
- Stay on your toes and take long strides. There's no need to rush things. The longer and more controlled your lunges and strides are, the more control you're going to have.
Footwork is crucial. If you're consistently having trouble with your finesse, your footwork is the first place to look.
The concept of split-stepping comes from tennis. If you watch a high level tennis match, you will see the pros do this when their opponent hits a shot over.
In pickleball, it's a bit different. You're not going to be using the split step when you're at the kitchen line dinking. However, when you're moving around the court for any reason, split stepping is going to save you some trouble.
The video below will help you out with this.
As you know, finesse is extremely important in pickleball. It's very easy to exploit players who don't have any finesse. Believe it or not, it all starts with your grip.
If you're having trouble hitting the ball too hard or popping them up, then you'll have to learn how to have soft hands. What this means is that when the ball hits your paddle, your grip is so loose that the ball deflects slowly off your paddle and not explosively.
Have you ever seen a tennis player play pickleball before? They're natural at this because soft hands is huge in tennis. Here's what you can do:
- Try to only hold the paddle with your thumb and index finger. This will help to loosen things up.
- Force yourself to let go of your paddle more. If you haven't played a sport like tennis, you're going to have to force some of this!
- Keep your paddle grip clean and replace it often for more tackiness. The more tacky the grip, the easier it will be to loosen it more.