When a player is pulled out wide past the net post, he/she has two shot options. One option is to
put the ball back in play by softly hitting it short and cross-court. The second option is a bit more exciting...
the around-the-post winner. Not only is this shot fun to hit and exciting to watch, but it puts pressure on your opponents, knowing that you’re capable of hitting winners on any wide dink shot.
How to Hit ‘Around the Post’
1. First, you need to quickly recognize when your opponent hits a ball to you that is angled or wide enough and gives enough room to hit the ball around the net post. This can happen when dinking cross- court and your opponent takes an overly aggressive angle. At the same time, keep in mind that you
want to be careful not to angle your dinks so much that you give your opponent the opportunity to hit around the post.
2. Once you recognize that you have the right ball to go for the around-the-post, you need to move your feet and set yourself up quickly enough where your reach is beyond the net post. Ideally, get to the finish spot before the ball gets there. In doing so, you will have time to wait for the ball to drop low.
3. You want to contact the ball at the lowest possible point. The longer you can hold off hitting the ball, the wider it is away from sideline – thus the easier to hit around the net post. It is common for top players to hit the ball two to four inches off the court.
4. Keep your paddle firm when you make contact with the ball and strike the ball fairly hard. You want to put enough pace on the ball so that your opponent cannot defend your shot.
5. You want to aim about 2 inches inside the sideline and make sure to keep the ball low. Remember, you are going for a winner.
How to Defend ‘Around the Post’
1. The first step to defending around the post is to recognize that your opponent is about to hit it. Usually, this is when your opponent has received a high, wide-angled shot.
2. This is one of the toughest shots to defend so you want to give yourself the best odds of returning the ball by standing in the correct location. The best place to stand is roughly two feet behind the non-volley line and just inside the sideline. Make sure that your body is still inside the court because you do not want to defend balls going out.
3. Bend your knees to keep your body weight low and forward.
4. Place your paddle low to the ground and just try to block the ball before or after it bounces. Again, make sure that your paddle is still inside the court because you do not want to hit an out ball. Since the around- the-post is a tricky shot for your opponent to hit, there is a good chance that he/she may miss it wide — so watch where the ball is going.
Next time you are out at practice, try hitting and defending this shot. A good drill is to practice dinking cross-court, and every once in a while have your drill partner feed a ball that is highly angled so you can practice hitting around the post. If you have a third drill partner, you can have that person stand in front of you to practice defending the shot. Everyone in the group can then rotate.
Christine McGrath resides in Los Angeles,
CA. She was the highest female prize money winner for pickleball in 2015. Christine is
a 2017 President’s Cup and Grand Canyon State Games Champion, 2016 US Open Pro Champion, 5x Tournament of Champions medalist, and 8x Nationals medalist. She also enjoys the outdoors, dirt biking, snowboarding, and spending time with family.