Every Pickleball player Needs Cloud-Like Touch Beat Bangers

Every Pickleball player Needs Cloud-Like Touch Beat Bangers
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There’s nothing more annoying in pickleball than when you’re playing someone that can consistently hit the ball in the kitchen from anywhere on the court. No matter how hard you hit your shot. They always seem to get it back in a way where you can’t do anything. Realistically, this is probably the number one skill to develop if you ever want to be a high-level pickleball player.

Introduction

The skill I’m referring to is touch, and most players never actually understand how to develop this into their game. To players in the 3.0 to 4.5 range, touch can seem like a magical power that only 5.0-plus players possess. But in reality, all touch is, is the ability to slow down the ball and absorb power and the ability to hit the ball softly in general.

Players with good touch can do both of these very consistently. This is something that newer players find very hard. If you’re someone in the 3.0 to 4.0 point range, odds are that you can slow the ball down sometimes, but you probably aren’t 100% reliable. If you’re a beginner, the concept of swinging your paddle to hit the ball slowly might make literally zero sense.

Just know that as you progress your pickleball game, this is probably the most important skill to develop if you want to get to an elite level, so pay close attention. I want to make sure that after you read this article, you’ll be in the perfect position to acquire a cloud-like touch. Today, I’m not only going to teach you how to utilize touch, but I’m also going to teach you how to practice it so that it gradually improves over time.

Keep in mind, if you don’t consider the techniques and drills that I’m about to go through, there’s a good chance that your touch will never improve. This is the type of thing that you have to be very intentional about if you don’t want your progress to plateau.

And if you’re doing one of the things I’m about to go through wrong, you could be setting your game back years. To start I want to go over the main situations that we need touch because we use it a little bit differently depending on where we are on the court.

Situation Number 1

The first situation where we can touch is when we’re dinking on our dinks. It’s very important that we control our power. This is because if we hit it too hard, we’re giving our opponents an easy shot and if we hit it too soft, we’re going to hit the ball in the net.

two players playing a pickleball game
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If you want to become an elite-level dinker, you need to be able to seamlessly transition between harder push dinks and shorter, more defensive dinks. This is where a having high-level touch can come in handy.

So when we’re looking at the touch on our dinks, it’s not necessarily about slowing the ball down. It’s about consistently hitting the ball soft with the right amount of power.

Situation Number 2

The next instance where we use touch is on or resets. The general shot that most people consider to be at reset is in the transition zone after their third shot, but really resets any shot where your opponent puts you under pressure and you’re trying to reset the rally to a neutral position.

a player trying to play a shot in a pickleball match
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The main way of doing this is by dropping the ball into the kitchen. If your opponent blasts the ball at you and you’re able to keep it out of there and strike it hard, there’s really nothing that they can do except surrender and dink the ball back.

What makes resets extra hard, though, is that you’re taking a fastball and trying to slow it down. This requires very little swing to even no swing at all. Occasionally, when you’re slowing down a really fast ball, you may even need to send your paddle backward a little. I’ll go over the technique of how to do that later in the article, so keep reading.

Situation Number 3

The last main instance that we need touch is when we hit our drops. The type of touch that we need here is also a little different because we have to hit the ball slightly harder than our dinks and resets since we’re farther away. Whenever you hit a drop, there’s a relatively thin window that the ball needs to go through in order for it to be effective.

a player trying to play a drop shot
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The key to getting it in this window consistently is power control, which is where our touch comes into play. The drop is a great example of a shot that players with good touch can make consistently. If you haven’t developed good touch yet, there’s a high chance your drops are only good around 50 to 75% of the time.

If this sounds like you, then don’t worry. I’m about to give you all the tools that you need to develop this skill.

How to Implement Our Techniques to Your Shots

Looking at our technique on these shots to start, you generally want to have the continental grip. There are some exceptions to this, but just know that on all these shots, this is usually how you want to hold the paddle.

a person holding a pickleball paddle and giving thumbs up
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Another important thing to consider is that whenever you’re trying to hit the ball softly, you want to have a very loose hand and wrist. When you’re hitting one of these shots, you should be squeezing noticeably looser than if you were hitting a drive or a harder ball.

If we’re squeezing the paddle out of five out of ten on the harder shot, then we should be squeezing the paddle out of two or three out of ten on a softer shot. Another thing to keep in mind is that when we’re hitting softer balls, we’ll need to use a shorter swing.

The point of using a big back swing and fall through is to generate power. So if we’re trying to hit the ball softly, we want to minimize the length of our swing. In the event that someone hits it really hard and you need to slow it down, you may not need to use any swing at all, and in certain instances, you may even need to send the paddle backward.

To recap, whenever you’re trying to hit the ball softly, you want to have a continental grip, a loose hand, and wrist, and you want to use a compact swing. So it’s important that you go through this checklist and make sure that you’re doing all of these right. It will be significantly harder to develop good touch if you’re missing one of these.

Feel

That said, well, the technique is really important. This isn’t something that you can take out to the courts immediately and use right away. To acquire great touch we need to increase our feel for the ball. Feel is our ability to control the power of the ball regardless of what situations were being put into. Players with good touch can do this easily because to them the paddle is pretty much an extension of their arm.

The only way to get to this level, and I’m serious about this, the only way to acquire feel is by intentionally practicing and hitting a million balls. So in terms of how we want to practice this, I’m going to take you through a progression of drills.

These shots are not easy for a lot of people, so it makes sense to start with easier drills, then work up to harder drills. We’re going to start off with a few wall drills, then move to the court.

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Drill Number 1

The first exercise we’re going to go through is called the Hands Drill. All we do here is hit the ball against the wall, stop it, then hit the ball against the wall again. The harder you hit the ball, the more challenging this drill will become.

To slow the ball down you have to move your paddle very little. It’s actually going a little bit backward. Drills like this are really the only way that you can program this type of touch into your game. As I said, this isn’t something that you can just do right away. It takes a lot of reps.

Drill Number 2

In this next drill, we’re working on a reset. Spiking the ball to yourself off the wall and trying to keep it low, not too high above the net. Similar to our last drill the harder that you hit the ball to yourself off the wall, the more difficult it will be to slow it down. Off these hard shots, you’ll also need to use very minimal paddle movement.

On some, you may need to let the paddle give and move backward slightly. The key, though, is that you have references for height on the wall. This way you know whether or not you’d be popping your dinks and resets up. I recommend you use something like the ding pad if you’re looking to get a wall training routine started.

The number one reason that players don’t improve their touch is they don’t get enough reps. Training on the wall with a ding pad can be a convenient way to get thousands of more shots per week.

Drill Number 3

In this next drill. Both players will be standing right behind the kitchen line. While maintaining a rally, one player will speed up on every shot and the other player will work on their touch and try to drop everything into the kitchen.

This is a really good drill to start applying touch to a realistic situation on the court. I see so many beginners who that feel if someone speeds the ball up at them, they need to go even harder. If you don’t have a good opportunity, then this is not a good idea. You’re way better off dropping the ball back into the kitchen and resetting the rally to a neutral position.

Drill Number 4

In our next drill, one player will back up to the transition zone between the kitchen line and the baseline, and the other player will stay at the kitchen. It’s the player at the kitchens job to hit difficult shots right at the back player’s feet so that they can work on their resets. The transition zone player should try to drop all these shots in the kitchen and make it difficult for the net player to attack.

One thing I’ll say is that when you’re doing resets, you want to make sure that you’re low so that you can lunge to either side while still being precise with your touch. If you aren’t low and on balance, it’ll be nearly impossible to have good touch in this situation. And guys, if you’re liking these drills so far, make sure to send this to your main partner so that you can do these together.

Drill Number 5

The next drill I want to go through is for our drops. It’s the same idea as our last drill, but one player will go all the way back to the baseline and try to hit in the kitchen from there. The main issue I see in this shot is that players take way too big of a swing.

Don’t get me wrong, on your drop you should use a bigger swing than your dinks, but you should still try to keep it really compact. If you’re a righty, you should try to keep the full swing on the right side of your body. I also see so many players that neglect their footwork from the back of the court.

Whenever you’re hitting a drop, it’s your job to do whatever you can with your feet to catch the ball in the best possible position. This means that you’re not too close to it and not too far away. And guys, it’s hard to have cloud-like touch if you don’t have quick reactions.

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