Pickleball can be challenging when the wind starts to pick up. No need to be annoyed. This guide will teach you ways to reduce the wind's impact on your game. Read on...
Wind can mess with the ball's trajectory and make it a lot harder to control. But there are ways you can adapt and play better in windy conditions.
How to Play Better in the Wind
When you're serving on a windy day, it's important to adjust to compensate for the breeze. Focus on hitting harder and flatter, so the ball spends less time floating in the air.
If the wind is with you, give it a half-swing and don't hit the ball too high. If the wind is into your face, then make sure to swing harder.
If the wind is sideways, don't over-adjust and hit the ball too far to a side. You will now need the wind to help. You don't want to have to rely on the wind. Rather, aim for the middle and give yourself maximum margin for error.
Keeping the ball low is a common focus on all shots in windy conditions.
When it's windy, your swing technique should slightly adjust.
The most common adjustment to make is to keep your swings compact, and to then swing a tad bit harder. Instead of loopy, long swings, hit the ball with abbreviated, harder pushes.
This will help keep the wind's impact off the ball as it bounces off the paddle. You will mitigate all the randomness that comes with windy conditions.
Practice in your spare time hitting small, hard swings, almost more like pushes. As an analogy, it's like golf putting rather than a regular golf swing.
Use Wind to your Advantage
Believe it or not, you can use the wind to your advantage too!
If the wind is blowing towards your opponent, you can swing easier (and often, more compact, as discussed previously) and let the wind help carry the ball towards them.
If the wind is "with" you, you may elect to play more aggressively too, because your shots will have more pace on them. Something to consider.
If the wind is against you, you may hit more drop shots. Your drops will fall sharper and they'll have a hard time reaching down and in to hit volleys in the air. You may find it effective to hit drop shots down at their shoes in this case.
This can make it tougher for them to return the ball, giving you a better chance of scoring.
In windy conditions, using the lob can be a game-changer.
By hitting a high, arcing shot, you can use the wind as a backboard when the wind is going at you (you are hitting into the wind). You can hit the ball higher and harder and let the wind prevent your shot from going out.
The ball will fall gently down near the baseline, ideally. Perfect lob. Meanwhile, try to avoid lobbing when you are with the wind. If you hit it over their head, the wind may carry it long.
Playing conservatively is a strategy to keep in mind when the wind is blowing.
In tough conditions, it's hard to hit perfect shots. You may want to avoid trying to hit a "greedy" shot down the line, for example. Play more middle balls. Give yourself more buffer.
Playing patiently and waiting for your opponent to take big risks and make a mistake can lead to winning more points and ultimately the game when it's windy.
Safe play doesn't mean never attack. It doesn't mean play timid and only dink. It just means don't be greedy when you pick a target and aim. Give yourself some leeway because the wind will make it tough to place your shot.
Lastly, if you are against the wind, you might not charge to the net as expediently, because all their shots are going to carry to you more. Work your way up gradually..."creep" up to net.
Adapting and playing better in windy conditions is key. It's windy all the time in all regions, at least sometimes. Some players will play the same way, and others will adjust their game.
Making adjustments in your technique and strategy can make a big difference in reducing your mistakes and getting more free points off of unprepared opponents.
By keeping the ball low and hard and not floaty, using the wind to your advantage, hitting the lob against the wind, playing safely and giving yourself margin for error, and keeping strokes compact, you'll be ready to take the pickleball court no matter how hard the wind is blowing!
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