I like to think that I have a pretty calm and cool demeanor.
This translates pretty well with my coaching at clinics and bootcamps on the court, with an occasional growl (“Get up to the line!” “Keep them back!” “Paddle Up!”).
Heck, even when I’m playing, you’ll typically see me laughing with a big smile on my face.
But I’m here to tell you now, I’m all about aggression.
And just to be clear, I’m not talking about weaving in and out of traffic to get to the stop light a full 15 seconds sooner!
I’m talking about aggression on the pickleball court!
Now you may not think I’m aggressive. After all, I have a reputation of advocating the third shot drop and making a nice, soft dink into the first half of the Kitchen.
But I can be very aggressive. Coaching at clinics and bootcamps, I specifically state that “I’m all about aggression.”
Here’s some times when I want you to be aggressive.
You Have a Good Drive
Make no mistake about it, you’re going to have to get a good drop shot. But that doesn’t mean you need to use it all the time!
If you have a good drive, go for it. On many occasions, you’ll win the point. Plus, you may set up a ‘shake & bake’ where your opponent pops up the ball setting you up for an easy – and aggressive! – overhead smash!
Just remember, as I mentioned above, if your opponents can handle the drive, your awesome, powerful shot may set yourself for an easier fifth shot drop into the Kitchen!
This is where I get to talk about the crouching tiger!
A tiger doesn’t just run after its prey. It patiently waits, watches, and sneaks up on its prey. Then, when the time is right, it strikes!
That’s the whole point of dinking. You patiently dink, dink again, dink once more, and when your opponent pops up that pickleball, aka creampuff, you strike like the tiger and smash the ball!
When Your Opponents Are Back
I’m pretty emphatic about this one!
If your opponents are back,
KEEP THEM BACK!!!
Do not try to drop the ball into the Kitchen!!!
Picture this scenario – you and your partner are at the Kitchen. Your opponents are back at the baseline and hit a not so great drop.
KEEP THEM BACK!!!
As Randy is fond of saying, if you drop your opponents when they are back, there are five possible outcomes, and four of them are bad! Play the percentages!
I want you to be super aggressive about this one – if either or both of your opponents are back, keep driving at their feet.
During the last day of bootcamp during open play with coaching, one of things I comment on the most is to keep your opponents back!
When Your Opponent’s Paddle Is Down
Okay, this one may be a bit controversial, and I’ll admit that I don’t do it to everyone.
But when I notice that when an opponent’s paddle is hanging down below the waist, that opponent may receive a pickleball tattoo.
At clinics and bootcamps, I aggressively stress to keep your paddle up.
If you’re playing an aggressive player (i.e., me, as you’ve just found out!), you just don’t have the time to bring your paddle up for the block!
A Time and Place for Everything
Okay – those are some specific situations for you to be aggressive.
Now here’s when I want you to be especially aggressive!
When you’re the serving team.
Getting a short return? Grip it and rip it!
Want to try for that drive down the line for a passing shot? Go for it!
Try to set up the shake & bake? Yes, yes, yes!
When you’re serving, the worst that can happen is that your partner serves next or there’s a side out.
When you’re receiving and your aggressiveness doesn’t pay off, you lose a precious point!
That’s why I recommend playing the percentages more when you’re receiving and taking more chances when serving.
Like I’ve said hundreds of times, I’m all about aggression.
But just in the right situations and at the right time!