While the slow player moves laterally along the baseline, the knowledgeable player bisects the angle of the ball and moves forward, ready to hit the ball early. This accomplishes several pickleball goals:
1. The player moves a shorter distance because he is moving toward the net, not wide along the baseline.
2. The player is now in better court position (i.e. closer
to the kitchen line to volley).
3. The player gives his opponent less time to prepare
because he is taking the ball earlier.
4. The player is capable of hitting a better angle when
he is closer to the net.
5. The player is able to hit an approach shot rather than
a backcourt groundstroke.
To discipline yourself to bisect the angle of the ball, practice a simple cross-court drill.
It is important for both players to start and return to the center of the baseline after every shot — no lazy camping out in the corner. Every possible ball must be taken without moving laterally. Every short ball should be taken as an approach shot and the drill finished at the net. Look for the short ball. The key to success is early paddle preparation. If you are there and not prepared, your good footwork is wasted. If your opponent hits a very deep ball that drives you back, at least you are prepared. Your goal, of course, is to keep him back with a deep ball and take the net yourself. Good footwork is an essential discipline and is a major factor in determining your level of play.