Relishing Pickleball

David Zapatka

Backhand Groundstroke

Quoting from Pickleball Fundamentals: Master the basics and compete with confidence by Mary Littlewood, when hitting a backhand groundstroke, “The same principles apply when you’re hitting a backhand groundstroke (as a forehand groundstroke) except that you move to the left rather than to the right (right-handed players).

While some players change the grip on the paddle by rotating the paddle slightly to the right or clockwise (for a right-handed player), others do not. It’s a matter of personal preference. Pivot toward your left side and take short, shuffling steps toward the oncoming ball. Move to a position that is behind and to the side of the anticipated bounce of the ball. Take the paddle back by moving it back across your body. With your weight on your rear foot, swing your paddle arm forward, keeping the face of the paddle perpendicular to the ground. Contact the ball between your body and the net and off of your front knee. After contact, follow through toward the target.”

I would add that it’s very important when you “Move to a position that is behind and to the side of the anticipated bounce of the ball,” as Mary stated above, that you stop moving before hitting the ball. Do not run through the ball. After stopping, continue tracking the ball into the middle of your paddle and actually watch it hit your paddle. The contact point should be out in front of your body, not alongside your body or behind you. Not stopping and instead running through the ball creates errors. Think this: Move to the ball. Stop. Track the ball into the paddle. Watch it hit the ball. Follow through.

The USA Pickleball National Championships sponsored by Pickleball Central will be held at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden this month, Dec. 6 through 14. It’s worth the short drive to see the world’s top pickleball players in all age groups, singles and doubles, competing at the highest levels. If you can’t make it, watch for the matches to be broadcast on the CBS Sports Network.

Want to know more about the sport, the rules, equipment, or have some picklicious news you would like to share with our pickleball community? Email David Zapatka at [email protected].