When and how to 'reset' play in pickleball
September 1, 2023 | View PDF
So, you're out there banging away at your opponents and they're banging it right back at you. Something's got to give as the speed of the ball and the pace of the return continues to climb. You see that your returns to your opponents also continue to rise in the air and you know that it's only a matter of seconds before they are able to hit down on the ball and win the point.
What can you do as the frenetic energy builds, and before you're overwhelmed? It's called "resetting" the point. Selkirk Sports' simple definition of the reset says it simply: "A reset is nothing more than a third shot drop performed at a time when you find yourself not in control of the point." A third shot drop is a return that drops softly in the kitchen where your opponent is challenged to slow their own game down. "Kitchen" is the nickname for the "no-volley zone".
There's two major ways to reset. If you're on the run you simply want to get your paddle out in front of you the best you can and connect with the ball as low as you can so that its return has a higher arch, while still aiming to drop in the kitchen. This helps make the shot unattackable and gives you time to recover.
You're trying to slow the game down, so hitting back hard is unproductive. And you will most likely dump the ball in the net. "Just get it over" softly into the kitchen and you will have achieved the slowdown you're looking for.
You may have to retreat to do this. And in pickleball we want to strive to move forward to the net, yes? But there are times when retreating is the best and only way to recover from an attack and you need to take the ball off the bounce, and not volley the return (a volley is a shot taken out of the air.)
The other way to reset is to block your opponent's shot. This usually comes into play when you are at the net and your opponent volleys the ball hard at you. A block involves turning your paddle sideways and literally blocking the shot with a soft paddle hold. Using a light hold allows you to soften your return so that it just falls over the net.
Again, you achieve best results attempting the block by having your paddle in front of you, in the paddle ready position. I've talked about this before, the "ready position". This is the one thing I see players fail to do that can improve their game immediately. Get, and keep, your paddle in the ready position. That means, get your paddle out in front of you with your non-paddle hand resting near your paddle hand wrist (see photo). To get into the habit of doing this when I first started playing, I repeated to myself "paddle ready, paddle ready" after every shot, and that prompted me to bring my paddle back up after a shot.
There are some very good videos of resetting on the Web. PrimeTime Pickleball has a good one at https://bit.ly/45f1Ja4 with player/instructor Daniel Moore. And on the same website you can see how to block a shot at https://bit.ly/3KOjDIC.
These are skills that you develop over time. I think they are some of the hardest skills to master because you're trying to change the pace of the game. Developing skills, it is said, takes repeating them (correctly) 10,000 times. So, you better get started.
Jim Lavrakas has lived in Alaska for almost a half century. The self-proclaimed "squirrel man" has found a lively outlet in the pursuit of pickleball. You can reach him at http://www.FarNorthPress.com.