Monday, May 10, 2021

A Little Mustard on It

Coach Wayne’s Quick Tips

In my last “Coach Wayne’s Quick Tips,” entitled “Third Ball Mentality,” I touched on the fact that there is a lot of information that needs to be processed in a short period of time regarding our choice of options when hitting a third ball shot.

My recommendation was that beginner level players keep things simple and hit the majority of their third ball shots low and up the middle. However, as your game improves and you start competing on a higher level of play, you will find that if you hit a ball up the middle and it does not have what I call, “a little mustard on it,” your opponents will be hitting a lot of winners and celebrating with a plenty of high fives!

To help get a little mustard on our shots, we need to be able to apply spin to the ball.

For me, the comprehension and understanding of the theory of how spin affects the speed and flight path of a ball originated from being a tennis player. However, the theory applies to all sports. For example, pitchers in baseball change the speed and direction of the flight of the ball by utilizing spin, golfers use spin to fade or draw the ball to direct its flight path, bowlers spin the ball to pick up a 7-10 split, billiard players put English on the cue ball to move it precisely where they want it to be for their next shot.

All of the above-mentioned sports require the player to apply spin to the ball, to be able to hit a specific type of shot, for a specific result.

In each of these sports, to effectively accomplish the shot which they are attempting, the player has pre-determined what kind of and how much spin they are going to apply to the ball. As pickleball players, just like in other sports, we need to apply spin to the ball to be able to hit a specific type of shot for a specific result.

As a tennis coach, I preach the fact that topspin is the name of the game, however, in pickleball hitting slice is usually my spin of choice. In upcoming columns, I will discuss and identify both the physical and mental aspects of executing an underspin/slice shot in pickleball.

Wayne Clark is a professional tennis instructor with over 25 years’ experience coaching players on all levels of the game. Wayne is also qualified in pickleball instruction and is on staff as an instructor with The Pickleball Academy of Southwest Florida at East Naples Community Park. Contact Coach Wayne by email at, or by phone or text at 239-450-6161.

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