Paddle UP! column: Pickleball basics - Keep ‘paddle up’

Part of the basic strategy behind the game of Pickleball is playing “paddle up,” such as above and as opposed to below. It works to protect you, provides a positive mental state, and keeps you at the ready for the next shot.

Courtesy photos/Bob Atherton

Part of the basic strategy behind the game of Pickleball is playing “paddle up,” such as above and as opposed to below. It works to protect you, provides a positive mental state, and keeps you at the ready for the next shot.

Here is one of the most important things you can do when playing the addictive game of Pickleball.  Keep the paddle up at all times, except when hitting a semi volley or a ground stroke.

Paddle up can mean the practical practice of doing it after every shot and it also, in my view,  means a mental state of mind.  Here are the reasons why.

The basic strategy of the game is to get to the non-volley lines, which are 7 feet from the net on each side.  When players on both sides are only 14 feet apart, the ball moves with a lot of speed and leaves little time to react.  It gets really exciting and it is a good reason to keep the paddle up at the chest.

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The net is between opponents and prevents low horizontal shots from being made. Therefore, it makes no sense at all to dangle the paddle down around the knees; yet, I see it done often. I always say, “Let the net do what it is suppose to do,” and that is to protect the lower body. And, “Let the paddle do what it is suppose to do,” and that is to protect the upper body and face.”

Here is the last but important practical reason.  When you keep that paddle up, you are much less likely to get hit in the face or eye by a pickleball.

If hit in the face, it will be a slight bruise.  If in the eye, it can cause some serious problems.  A shot to the face is usually accidental. More experienced players usually wear protective sports eyewear. It is a good idea to start wearing such eyewear right from the first day you learn the basics of the game.

It is such a small court and the ball moves at interesting angles with varying speed that the basic rule in Pickleball is to keep the paddle up after every shot no matter where you are on the court.  If you do, you will

be hitting a lot more offensive shots than defensive ones.

Now for the mental state of mind.  In Pickleball keeping that paddle up after every shot sets the mind into a ready state for the next one to come back.  It creates a state of positive attitude.  And it helps you take your mind off of a mistake you or your partner may have made, and thereby keeps the game in a positive light.

Finally, always remember, Pickleball is a game that requires good sportsmanship.  If no one made mistakes, the game would never come to an end.  Paddle up means “be a good sport all the time under all circumstances.

So paddle up in your life and in every thing you do.

Bob Atherton is a pickleball coach and the Northern Arizona District Ambassador for the United States Pickleball Association. He can be reached at bobca39@gmail.com or 928-499-2498.