Develop Lightning Fast Reactions and Handle Harder Shots In Pickleball Game

Everyone knows that one player who never misses any volleys in pickleball, no matter how hard you bang the ball at them, they get it back every time. And if you get into a quick hands battle, you can consider yourself toast. Your best option is just to hit to the other player if they’re standing at the kitchen. Read this full article and you’ll be one step closer to becoming that player.

Legs Movement

To start I won’t go through all the technical aspects of having consistent and effective volleys. One of the most overlooked aspects to having better volleys is using your legs and using the right footwork. For one, whenever we’re waiting for the ball at the net, we want to be in a nice and low position.

We should have a wide base, bent knees, and our hips should be back. Try and have good posture though. You don’t want to be hunched over. This way, you’re in the best possible position to react to a shot regardless of where your opponent hits it. When it comes to footwork at the net, less is more.

a player try to play a shot in pickleball
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So if the ball comes to you, try not to take unnecessary steps. If you do need to move. Usually, you want to step with your outside leg. Occasionally you may need to cross over if you’re really stretched on the backhand side, but try to stay square to the court if you can.

Another thing to focus on is that your head is still throughout the point. If your partner is hitting the ball, you definitely want to try and see what kind of shot they’re using. But don’t fully turn your head and look at them. If you do this, by the time you look forward, the ball could be coming directly at your face.

Try to watch what they’re doing with minimal head turns. This goes for when we’re on the move too, try to move in a stable way to where your head is steady and you aren’t getting disoriented by your movement.

The more your head moves, the harder it will be to react to your opponent’s shots. Because remember, we want to be able to react to more than one hard volley. If we lose our balance on the first hard volley, we get that our opponents are going to be able to take advantage of us on the next shot.

So we have to remain stable as we move around the net. So as a reminder, when we hit our volleys, we generally want to keep a wide base with our hips back. This way we can counterbalance our body weight and not fall into the kitchen.

Upper Body Movement

Now that we’ve gone through what we need to be doing with our legs, let’s talk about what we should be doing with our upper body. I think that the number one thing that will help you on your volleys is always going back to a strong, ready position between every shot. This means have your paddle out in front, and lean slightly towards your backhand side. Many people like to use the 11:00 analogy.

man holding a pickleball paddle in front of his body
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While it’s lean to the left, you still want the tip of your paddle to be centered between your eyes. If you cheat too far to your back inside, then it’s going to be hard to react to your forehand. One thing I see players doing wrong is they start out the point in an awesome-ready position. But as soon as they get their first ball, they drop their paddle and lose their form completely.

If you want to get multiple tough volleys back in a row, then you need to return to that good ready position after every shot. Looking at the actual strokes themselves, the most important part of your volley technique is that you have the right grip. The best way to tell that you have the right grip is that you can seamlessly hit your forehand and backhand volley without having to change it.

If you’re switching your grip, when you’re going through your forehand, to your backhand volley this is something that you definitely need to change. It’s just very hard to react quickly if you’re also having to flip around your grip. So if you don’t have that figured out, I encourage you to switch the continental grip.

man holding pickleball paddle
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When you have this grip, the paddle face will be perfectly up and down when you hold it in the center of your body. In terms of your motion, just know that the harder the ball is hit at you, the more compact your swing will need to be on your volleys. If it’s hit slower, you’ll need to take a bigger swing so that you can generate your own pace.

But if your opponent’s blasting the ball at you, you should use a more compact, stiffer motion where you get power from your opponent by blocking it back. When you take a big swing, it makes it significantly harder to time these shots. So you need to stay away from this when your opponents are hitting hard.

Volley Reaction Time

Now that your techniques are down, let’s go over the two main situations where I see players struggling with their volley reaction time. The first is when your opponents are back using drives and they’re blasting the ball at you. The second is when you get into a quick hands exchange, both players are at the kitchen line and you need to react to multiple tough volleys in a row.

Looking at the first situation, being able to handle drives is an important aspect of having a better player. Like I said before if your opponent’s hitting a hard shot, this is where we want to use a compact stiff swing to where we can block the ball to our opponent’s feet and keep them back. You want to try your best not to hit these volley short.

If you do, you’re just giving them an easy path to the kitchen. You also want to try to keep these volleys low and at their feet so they can’t pick it off out of the air. To make this work consistently. You really need to focus on having that ready position out in front.

And remember, if you’re too loose on these harder volleys, there’s a good chance that you’ll miss hit them or pop the ball up. The other main situation I mentioned is when we’re in a quick hands exchange. I see a lot of players lose these battles because they get off balance and they lose their form.

Step one to getting better at this is to always have a good base and use the proper footwork that I talked about earlier. Another reason that people lose these rallies is because for some reason when they start going out with somebody, they feel like they need to assert their dominance and win by going through them.

They seemingly forget that there are a few key targets need to aim for to make it trickier for their opponent. In order to effectiveness, your three main targets are the middle, the right shoulder, and the line. Usually, if you’re in a quick volley exchange, it’ll be smarter to aim for one of these than it will be to try to win by just reacting quicker. So put your ego aside and try to win by being the smarter player. And the event that your opponent takes control.

I see so many players trying to hit hard volleys until it’s too late. Remember, you can always reset the point by dropping it into the kitchen. So try not to go for hard volleys if you’re clearly not in control of the point anymore. On the other hand, if you do take control of the point, you should try to aim for one of the targets that I just brought up.

If you get a higher, slower ball, try to go with their feet, too. All right, guys, Now that we have the strategy down, the only way we’re going to increase our reaction time is by drilling these situations.

Also Read:

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5 Effective Pickleball Training Techniques Used By Pros

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Best Drills

The first drill I want you to do is for handling hard drives. All you’re going to do is have one player stay back and work on their drives while the net player does their best to hit the ball clean and deep. We need to be very intentional when we do these drills. Taking all the strategic and technical stuff that we talked about into account.

Remember, you want to use compact, stiffer volleys or responding to fastballs. Really try to connect with the ball here in the center of the paddle. When your opponent’s hitting hard, you need to focus on hitting the ball in the sweet spot so that you don’t miss.

All right. Now I want to go through a three-drill progression where both players are at the net. In the first, we’re just going to be going back and forth. When we’re doing this, you want to go at a pace where you can still have decent length rallies, about ten shots minimum.

Also, try to make sure that you’re hitting both forehands and backhands. You don’t want to favor one side. Once you get warmed up, you can try to increase the tempo a little.

And our next drill, we’re going to take a step in and do the exact same thing. But here we’re a little bit closer to each other. So we really are testing our reaction time. Try to position yourself six inches in front of the kitchen line and use the same mindset here. Start off a little bit slower then increase the tempo.

In the last drill, I want you to go back behind the kitchen line and start off by hitting four volleys back and forth. After the fourth volley, you play out the point half-court and you try to win the volley exchange. Try to use all the techniques and strategies we talked about earlier so that you can win here.

You can even keep score here, which is a motivating way to try even harder. This drill is probably the best way to get better at winning Quick Hands battles and make sure to send this to your partner so that you can do all these drills together. If you don’t have anyone to drill with, that’s as fast as you.

The wall is an incredible way to work on your quick hands and reflexes. Think if you hit volleys against the wall a few minutes per day, you’re going to hit thousands of more shots per week. These are the kind of reps you need if you actually want to increase your reaction time. The wall never misses and it keeps up with your speed no matter how fast you go. It’s an unbelievably efficient way to train. In terms of increasing your hand speed, this is one of the best ways to do it.

Always make sure to be using some sort of references when you do wall drills because remember, it’s not just about having quick reactions. You also need to be able to place the ball well in these situations if you want to be effective against another player. The Dink pad provides the perfect references for these sorts of quick hands drills on a wall.

man showing pickleball dink pad
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As you can see, there’s a reference line so that you can consistently keep your shots low and there are targets to aim for so that you can move the ball around to the key weak points that I talked about earlier.

Final Thought

Getting quicker reactions comes from a combination of using the right technique and intentional practice. Follow the instructions in this article and you’ll get quick results guaranteed. And if you want to learn how to hit jaw dropping serves, must watch the below video.

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