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How to move from defense to an attack in pickleball


By Dominic Catalano

on Jan 12, 2024

Dominic Catalano shares how to reset and counter attack.

One of the most important skills to master in high-level pickleball is transitioning from defense to offense. 

In early-level pickleball, when one team gets the advantage at the kitchen line, they will likely win the point. However, as players progress in their skill level, they need to learn how to stay alive in the transition zone and regain control of a point. 

Doing so starts with a good reset, Dominic Catalano shares in his latest high-level pickleball episode. Once you hit a solid reset into your opponent’s non-volley zone, you have a few options. 

First, you can slowly work your way toward the kitchen line. A slow approach is the safer option, allowing you to gradually work your way back into control. 

But sometimes, there is an opportunity to surprise your opponent and win the point on the shot following the reset. If you hit an exceptionally good reset, it can be strategically beneficial to explode toward the kitchen line to put away your opponent’s next ball. 

Typically, when your opponent has control of the kitchen line, they don’t expect you to attack. So, if your opponent is in an awkward position while you reset or they look completely down at the ball, consider an attack shot immediately following your reset. 

Drills to learn how to reset and counter attack

There are numerous drills to help you learn how to move from defense to offense safely. These drills are designed to improve your decision-making and quick attacks on the court. 

Drill 1: Reset to attack

Start with one partner at the kitchen line and one partner in the transition zone on opposite sides of the net. The partner at the kitchen line should feed a hard ball to the partner in the transition zone. 

The transition zone partner will then aim to hit a reset into the non-volley zone and prepare for an attack. As the kitchen partner looks to hit the next ball, the transition zone partner should move toward their kitchen line to attack the next ball. 

As you move forward, take note of where your opponent is. Try hitting an attack ball low and hard to a spot that would be hard for your opponent to reach. Remember, the goal of this attack is to surprise your opponent, so don’t make your attack easy to field. 

Drill 2: Reset, reset, attack

You may not hit a perfect reset on your first try, so it’s important to wait for the right opportunity to attack. 

Start the drill in the same way, but this time, the transition zone partner should hit two resets before attacking. Stay in the transition zone for both resets before quickly moving forward for the attack. 

Again, look for a weak spot to attack. Take note of which attack shots were most successful. What did you do while attacking? Where was your opponent? Where did you hit the ball? 

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