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What is your favorite shot in pickleball? It’s the SLAM, the TAG, the FINISH—basically any ball that you can attack, right? How many times do you SLAM a ball that you thought was attackable and it winds up in the bottom of the net?

One of the biggest struggles when coaching pickleball players of all levels is to help easily identify which balls to attack, which to reset and which to dink. An easy visualization that every player can relate to is using the traffic light analogy by correlating the body to a visual traffic light.

Red Zone
If the contact point of the ball is below the mid-thigh, return the shot with a dink or a reset ball. As a player, if you are receiving a ball that has a downward trajectory, the best reply is a dink or a reset. Think SLOW and dink when the contact point is low.

Yellow Zone
If the contact point of the ball is between the upper thigh and the bottom of the rib cage, the player can start to experiment with attacking and resetting the ball. The trajectory of the ball in the yellow zone is typically not an extreme angle and allows for players to BANG or SLAM away. Players must stay in control of the shot and recognize when to reset the ball when out of control. Take CAUTION because the yellow zone has several shot options.

Green Zone
If the contact point of the ball is above the ribs, SWING away and have fun. The trajectory of the receiving ball travels from high to low allowing aggressive shots to FINISH the point. The light is GREEN so go for it and keep your opponents on the defensive. Now, when playing a match, think of the lights and you’ll know when to attack! •

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