Monday, December 6, 2021

The Gap

Coach Wayne’s Corner

Submitted Photo

Beginner pickleball players are intimidated by people who hit the ball really hard right at them. Experienced pickleball players have no fear of balls hit right at them, because it actually provides a player (with good hands) the opportunity to hit a reaction volley/block shot put away. 

In baseball, the phrase “the gap” refers to an area on the field left open as a result of the opposing players positioning.  

A line drive into “the gap” between the shortstop and the 2nd or 3rd baseman is a guaranteed base hit. 

On a pickleball court, “the gap” refers to the area between your two opponents, aka, the middle of the court. 

A good line drive into “the gap” in pickleball can guarantee you a commanding position at the no volley zone line. 

The best way to effectively place the ball in “the gap” is with a low trajectory driving shot. 

As a lifelong tradition tennis player, one of my favorite and best shots is my backhand slice approach shot, because I keep the ball slow and low. 

Normally considered to be somewhat of a defensive nature shot, a properly executed underspin approach shot off either the backyard or the forehead wing can be an effective offensive strategical play. 

The purpose of utilizing an underspin approach shot in both tennis and pickleball is to keep the ball low, force my opponent to hit up on the ball, and effectively give myself time to take a commanding position at the net.  

Once there, I will be anticipating an opportunity to have a volley above the level of the net which will allow me to be able to apply even more offensive pressure on my opponents and win more points! 

Wayne Clark is a professional tennis instructor with over 25 years’ experience coaching players on all levels of the game. Wayne is also qualified in pickleball instruction and is on staff as an instructor with The Pickleball Academy of Southwest Florida at East Naples Community Park. Contact Coach Wayne by email at, or by or by phone or text at 239-450-6161. 


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