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The Art of Deception

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As pickleball continues to grow, a new level of player is entering the field. These players are bringing new ideas and techniques that were not used just a couple of years back. One of those is the misdirect volley shot. This deceptive open-faced swing is used on the tour to steal occasional points and can be used in your local games too.

As players improve, they will start to cue on their opponents’ body language. Are they going to drive? Lob? Dink cross-court? As these cues become more important, players have to learn how to better disguise their shots. The misdirect volley is a newer shot that’s used to put your opponents off balance by causing them to think a different shot is coming their way. It’s not always a point-ending put-away shot, but it often sets you up for that next winning shot. Here’s how it works:

The misdirect volley generally begins with all four players at the non-volley line. When players are in a rally (cross-court or down-the-line), they will continue to use the same obvious, predictable body language. However, a split second before one strikes the next dink or volley, he/she will open the paddle face and send the ball in an unexpected direction. For example, if I’m on the right side of the court, dinking cross-court, I’ll have my body square to the net—set to hit cross-court again. But before striking the next shot, I open up the angle of my wrist outward (inside-out forehand) to send the ball down the line at the opponent in front of me. If I sell the cross-court shot well enough, my opponents will be off-balance when the ball quickly and unexpectedly comes at them. Chances are they’ll either miss the volley or pop the ball up for me to end the point.

The inside-out shot is a great tool for a deceptive shot. Some of the best opportunities to hit it are:

•From a slightly high forehand dink or volley in the middle or right side of the court

•From a slightly high backhand dink or volley on the left side of the court

•From a short return from the serve in the middle of the court

So, next time you’re practicing with friends, look for these opportunities to deceive them. It’s a lot of fun to try—and it adds some spice to the game.

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