It is often said that there is math and science in nearly everything but how could there be either in a game of pickleball? Today, we are going to discuss the scientific approaches used in the game so pull up a comfy chair and let’s talk pickleball.
You thought that when you finished school that you would never have to think about physics or math again and especially not during a game of pickleball. I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but if you want to increase your skill level in pickleball then you must find a way to once again, embrace physics and math.
Physics comes into the game through the ball and the player’s body. The ball is lighter so it offers less resistance to the hit. For example, if your opponent top spins the ball to you, it is physics that allows you to catch your opponent off-guard and return her topspin with a topspin of your own. That cannot be done in tennis but, you can thank physics that it can be done in pickleball and to your advantage. A player who plays the game from the balls of her feet gains the ability to use quick and balanced spring responses in any direction to return the opponent’s hit and that is a nod to physics.
With math and pickleball, it is all about the angles. Should the paddle be at a 30-degree angle when you hit the ball or should your paddle be parallel to your body? That depends on how the ball is coming to you and where you want to place your return hit. Competitive partners know the importance of getting to the kitchen line quickly in order to cut in half their opponent’s available space for return options. With an average combined wingspan of ten feet between partners, the opponents should not be able to hit the ball through the partners as the partners have the ability to slightly move in either direction. A common strategy for players is to engage in a soft game of tea party at the net with one of the opponents while patiently waiting to catch the other opponent off-guard, so she can slam the ball in the other opponent’s direction as the ill-prepared player watched the tea party. A competitive player not directly involved in the tea party will slightly drop back her inside foot, yet remain on the balls of her feet to create a stronger angle for her to respond to the anticipated ball slam coming at her. Understanding basic math will give any player the competitive edge over her opponents. There is much more math and physics in the game of pickleball so start to look at your game from a scientific angle – a little fun with a pun.
What if you enjoy the simple and carefree aspect of just being on the court and hitting the ball back and forth? That is great and you should always approach pickleball in the way that brings you the most happiness. If you want to significantly improve your game, then you have no other option but to mentally return to school. When you understand that your body and the objects around you such as the ball, paddle, net and flooring are constantly in a state of physics combined with math, then you can use that knowledge to your benefit as you bring physics and math into your game of pickleball.
Until next month, I will see you on the courts!
Rule Review of the Month
All ‘let’ or ‘out’ balls must be called instantly prior to the ball being hit by the opponent; otherwise, the ball is presumed good and still in play. USAPA, Section 6 – Line Call Rules, 6.D.8.