July 21, 2023
ATP Master of Surprise
By Lisa Dollard
One of our favorite attack shots is the ATP—otherwise known as the Around the Post.
It’s not a shot that you plan for so much as it just happens organically as you and your crosscourt opponent start dinking wider.
As you become a better dinker, you’re going to start making your opponents work harder by having them reach and hit wider shots. As they return your wide dinks with their own wide shots, you’ll have the opportunity to hit around the net post for a winner.
First, yes, it is completely legal to hit around the post. At the advanced level we generally hit a couple of ATPs each game we play.
Second, while you are not allowed to volley while standing inside the “kitchen,” you are allowed to walk through the kitchen to hit a ball that is going to bounce.
After the ball bounces in the kitchen, allow it to travel wide of the sideline. The temptation is to rush the shot and hit the ball when it’s still thigh-high, but the problem is then we do not yet have the clearance around the net. The big trick is to let the ball travel wide and drop low. By letting the ball drop below the knee, we gain a few more feet of width around the net post.
To put it all together, follow the ball through the kitchen and be patient waiting for the ball to drop low. When you’re past the post, take a controlled swing down the line and make sure not to overhit.
Once you master the ATP, you’ll certainly want to know how to defend it too.
At the advanced level, we successfully defend against the ATP probably more than 50% of the time. Here’s how we do it.
Defending the ATP begins with recognizing when your partner hits a wide dink to your opponent. When you see this, take a step back and evaluate the possibility of an ATP.
As the ATP becomes likely, take several more steps back near the sideline, and roughly 5-7 feet from the baseline. Get your body low and put your paddle tip down on the court. From there, you’ll wait and just try to block-lift the ball back straight ahead.
You can practice this shot with a friend. Have this player stand wide of the kitchen, near the net, and hit low balls down the line. Stay calm and just try to make contact with the ball. With a little practice, you’ll be able to defend the ATP.
To view an ATP video instruction, go to https://youtu.be/mBW2kk7g_Iw. •
Lisa Dollard is a director for LevelUp Pickleball Camps and a 5.0 women’s doubles and 5.0 mixed doubles US Open champion.