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Why you should use the pickleball block volley and how to do it — Tips from pro Catherine Parenteau

By Catherine Parenteau

on Jul 02, 2024


Catherine Parenteau stands on an indoor pickleball court. She uses her Selkirk Power Air to execute a block volley shot at the kitchen line.

Pickleball is often a game of runs, so it’s important to know techniques to slow down your opponent when they are outperforming you, particularly when at the kitchen line. 

One of the most important tools to have in your arsenal is the pickleball block volley, which helps you neutralize your opponent’s aggressive shots. 

In a new Selkirk Pickleball TV episode, pickleball professional Catherine Parenteau talks about the best situations in which to use a block volley and how to execute the shot. 

What is a block volley in pickleball? 

As the name suggests, a block volley is a shot that stops your opponent’s aggressive hit. Rather than hit a hard volley back at your opponent, you will use your paddle to absorb the pace of the ball, allowing you to reset the ball back into the kitchen. 

The block volley is a largely defensive tool, but there are a few instances in which using a block volley can help you gain the upper hand. 

When you should consider a block shot

Although a block shot likely won’t win you any points, it will be a useful tool to help you regain control of a point. Here are a few instances in which you should consider using a block shot: 

  • When you are uncomfortable. Let’s say your opponent is doing a good job of moving you around with dinks. If they attempt to start a fast-hands battle, you likely won’t be in the best court position to win the point. So, consider a block shot to reset the point until you are ready to attack. 
  • If your contact point is below the net. If you are in a fast-hands battle and your opponent hits a low shot, it’s best to use a block shot on your next hit. If you attempt to volley the ball from a low position, you will likely hit the ball into the net or cause a pop-up error. 
  • When playing a tennis convert. Oftentimes, players who have converted from tennis like to stay near the baseline and hit hard groundstrokes. Using a block shot is an effective way to force your opponent to the kitchen line. 

  • Tips for blocking in pickleball

    There are several things to keep in mind when attempting to block in pickleball, including: 

  • Have a loose grip. If you try to block while squeezing your paddle too hard, you won’t be able to absorb the pace off the ball. On a scale from 1-10, where 10 is squeezing as tightly as you can, aim to hold your paddle at a two or three. 
  • Don’t follow through. You should just let the ball hit your paddle. Do not attempt to swing through the ball. If you do, you will likely cause a pop-up or errant volley. 
  • Open your paddle face. Your paddle face should be slightly pointed to the sky. If you try to block the ball with your paddle face pointed parallel to the net, you will likely hit the ball straight into the net or the ground. 
  • Bring your contact point closer to your body. You want to bring the paddle closer to your body than you would when volleying the ball. Think about a soccer player who is settling down an air ball — they cushion the ball into their chest to take the pace off. Similarly, you should make contact with the ball closer to your chest so that you can more easily achieve a loose grip.

  • Drills to improve your pickleball block

    Start at the kitchen line while your drilling partner stands at the baseline or transition zone. They should begin driving balls toward you. 

    As the ball comes toward you, remember the best practices for blocking and attempt to block the ball. The ball should land just inside the kitchen on the other side of the net. 

    If you create a pop-up or send the ball off the court, think about what you did wrong. More often than not, you will be gripping the paddle too tightly. 

    Once you are proficient at blocks from groundstrokes, have your drilling partner move closer to the kitchen line and hit hard volleys. Practice blocking on both your forehand and backhand. 

    When you can effectively block shots from each position on the court, switch roles. 

    Download the Selkirk Pickleball TV app HERE to watch the complete episode and many other Selkirk TV original shows, podcasts, lesson series from the pros, and much more. 

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