SOPA hosted a introductory clinic for 3.0 to 3.75 level players as part of our 2022 Medford Summer Classic Tournament weekend. It was held for two hours on Thursday morning. Here are the highlights of what was covered as written up by DeAnn Winter who lead the training session.
Winning Strategies Curriculum:
1: Proper warm up every time. Not 5 minutes. At least 20, include all major shots
2: Patience when everyone is at the net. Be the last one to miss, not the first one to attack or lob. Most of the game is played at the net as you improve your game and level.
Move with your partner. You should be able to touch paddles without a big stretch at any time. PRACTICE this with Kitchen Game, with emphasis on moving the other person out wide or into the middle.
Take shots out of the air if you can - this puts pressure on your opponents because it reduces the time they have to react or prepare for your shot.
Stay at the kitchen line - ok to step back to get a dink at your feet, but then come right back to the line.
Cross court shots - most margin for error (more distance, lower net in the middle)
Try to change it up - pace, placement, spin. Hit down the line (careful net is higher), middle dinks to cause confusion, hit at feet and to their backhand.
PLAY KITCHEN GAME- Empahsis that this one drill, done with intention and effort will improve one's game and have them win more games.
3: Getting up to the net.
Hit a deep serve and return.
Come up from baseline together. Don’t leave a middle alley by one back and one up.
When partner hits third shot drop, non hitting player should take a few steps in, judge the drop and either continue to go in, stay or a few steps back. Dropper should follow drop if good enough or hold ground.
Don't drive 3rds or 5ths, even if it works against your current opponents. It will eventually stop working and you won't have a good drop.
The person returning the serve should return so they get all or 80% up to the kitchen line. Don't drive unless you are fast.
PLAY TAKE THE NET GAME - this drill/game includes everything that is part of Pb except serve and return. Most "bang for your buck."
4: Don’t hit out balls, letting them go is easy points and a good way to help you win.
Communicate with your partner. Let it go, Bounce it, Out
If you're at the NVZ and the ball is at your shoulder/chest and it's a drive - LET IT GO
Watch your opponent, if they are hitting from below the net, they have to hit up and it will probably go out.
Look at opponents body language (if they are taking a big back swing) and watch paddle face (if closed or flat) they are more likely to hit it out.
5: Defeat the banger!
Expect the drive
Hit a deep return (makes it harder for them to drive)
Hit to their back hand
Let out balls go
Be a wall - block shots back to their feet
Engage in a soft game, hit low and at their feet
6: Over! In! Non-attackable. That is the winning strategy to high 4.0.
Expect every ball to come back, even if it seems like it can't.
Expect every ball to be hard at you. If it's not hard, it's easy to adjust yourself.
Keep your feet moving! Don’t just watch your shot, get set and anticipate the next ball coming to you.
Unforced Errors determines the winner in many matches.
The Path to improvement is through our obstacles and weaknesses. Practice those!