How to Play Those Awkward, Down-the-Middle Shots

Part 1 – Call the Ball

Maybe you’ve heard the saying, “Down the middle solves the riddle.” In pickleball, a soft or hard shot down the middle often leaves your opponents both thinking the other person was going to get the ball and as a result of a lack of communication, neither of them gets it. — Score one for your team!
Of course, it’s fantastic when it’s your opponents who are confused. On the other and, it’s frustrating and sometimes embarrassing when you and your partner are the ones to be confused.
Equally as frustrating is the situation in which you are all set up to make an excellent shot and your partner goes in to make a less-than-stellar smash into the net. (Not to mention–AHEM!!–the case in which you are the one to take a great shot from your partner…)
So what’s the answer to these pickleball conundrums?
One of the best solutions is partner communication.
Easier said than done, right? I know a lot of people who say, “It’s hard enough for me to concentrate on hitting a good shot, and now you want me to talk during my shot?” (Plus, my wife says that men sometimes have an especially tough time getting their brain to do two things at once…)

Here’s the good news:
Here’s why and what to do about it:

Of course, it’s nice if you can call the ball most of the time, although 80% of the shots will be obvious. But the great thing about practicing like this is that your brain will be in good shape to call the ball on those shots that really count — like when your opponents hit it straight down the middle.

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