Column: Scoop shot key to this sport

How the Scoop shot for the drop and dink shot makes the sport of paddleball so different than any other sport.

Do you recall in an earlier article I wrote about  the all important ground stroke or what I call the scoop shot in Pickleball.  Well if not, I pointed out that the scoop is almost like the motion you go through throwing a bowling ball down an alley or 

if your from the midwest or points north, shoveling snow.  Knees bent in a forward motion, lift and follow through pushing upwards with the legs.  If you were right-handed  you pushed with the right leg and control your motion with the right hand to throw snow or release the bowling ball.  That is the foundation of the scoop shot.

I also pointed out that five of the seven basic shots in the game are based on the ball bouncing BEFORE, you hit it or are allowed to hit it without fault.  Those were the serve and return in which you must let it bounce or it is a fault and three  others that has no such requirement called the drop, dink and lob.  All those shots require a well controlled scoop shot.

There are two other basic shots in the game which are volley shots  and often called the put away shots.  Those shots are greatly admired by the general spectator and fun to watch.  In those cases the ball fly’s through the air at  a high rate of speed and often is returned with another volley shot and the ball will not ordinarily bounce off the surface.

But for those who know the game of Pickleball, the little old scoop shots are the ones which are prized.  They are the set up shots for the final volley shots.  The scoop shots are the ones that make the game so fascinating.  They are the ones which sets the game apart from other sports.  They are the ones which requiretraining in order to turn the real game into one of finesse , strategy and control were pace, speed and angle of the ball  comes into play instead of one where every single shot can be a winner.

Where does this scoop shot fit into the total picture.  First the ball is served as a scoop, and as to be returned as a scoop because both sides have to let the ball bounce before they hit it.  Alright, so the offense serves the ball bounces, the defense returns the ball and it bounces before the offense can hit it.  The offense now sets up the third scoop in the game.  While the offense is getting that third shot ready to hit, the defense has saddled up to their  side of the kitchen line only seven feet from the net and set up a wall of potential hurt for the offense who are still back some twenty two feet from the net.

Wait a cotton minute second here.  Why doesn’t the serving team just run up to the seven foot line as soon as they serve it  or run in some like new players from tennis in particular do  at first.  That is because they have to wait and wait until the ball bounces on their side before they can hit it. 

Any defensive player worth theirsalt is going to drive the ball deep before it bounces  and any offensive player worth their smarts is not going to run backwards to hit a third shot they forgot to stay back for it is dangerous to run backwards and awkward to hit it with any real control and especially a difficult drop shot in the first place. So the third shot can be the drop shot and is the hardest shot in the game to make unless you practice it a lot.  That third shot often hit from depth is one which just drops over the net and bounces in the kitchen area.   The defense has to wait for the drop to land in the kitchen area or pick it up as not such a great drop shot on a half volley to return it.

It is the waiting and angle of the ball that counts.  Waiting because  in the meantime the offense can get up to their seven foot line from the net line and angle because the ball has to be hit up by the defense which is not at all a very good thing for the defense. So the scoop drop and dink really does separate the game from any other sport.

That is the fascinating  basic story of the drop shot in Pickleball.  The story next month is what happens next.  It is the drop shot  that starts the dink shot.  Yep, it is another scoop.  Until then Paddle UP.