Home Features How Pickleball Has Improved My Tennis Game

How Pickleball Has Improved My Tennis Game

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Jim Carella
Jim Carella

By Jim Carella, USPTA-PTR-GPTA-PPR Tennis Professional and Director of Pickleball at TPC Sugarloaf

As a teaching professional of both tennis and pickleball, I often hear my tennis students say they don’t want to try pickleball because it will hurt their tennis game. Can tennis and pickleball co-exist, and does it hurt your tennis game? My experience has been just the opposite, and here are a few reasons why playing pickleball has helped me — and others — become a better tennis player.

Increased focus of the tennis ball
The pickleball paddle is much smaller than a tennis racket and has a very small sweet spot. Because increased focus is needed to hit a solid pickleball, it’s that added effort which has helped me find my tennis racquet sweet spot more often.

Faster hands and more creativity at the net
Pickleball is played up at the non-volley line, which is only seven feet away from the net on each side. Most rallies in pickleball take place only 14 feet from your opponents, making for a lot of fast rallies. Quick hands are needed along with great paddle control and creativity. These skills, once again, translate into becoming a better tennis player up at the net with increased hand speed, feel, and touch.

Grip pressure — both hard and soft
Having a soft grip pressure helps keep your pickleball shots low and short, so they land in the non-volley zone (the kitchen) and prevent your opponents from attacking you. A firm grip on your pickleball paddle creates a much harder shot for put-aways. For tennis, both soft and hard grip pressures are used for various shots during your tennis matches. For example, the grip pressure for serving is much looser than for your high put-away volleys. Groundstroke grip pressure is somewhere in between, based on the pace of your opponent’s shots.

Staying lower because of the very low bounce
As stated earlier, pickleballs don’t bounce very high; they are made from hard plastic and getting yourself down to the bounce is essential. Staying low during the entire point in pickleball is needed to see the ball and find that small sweet spot on your paddle. It also helps with getting your shots back over the net as low as possible to prevent your opponents from attacking you and your partner. Staying lower has helped me immensely while playing tennis. A lower center of gravity helps engage my legs and core in all my shots. I seem to be hitting the ball harder now in tennis than I have in the past.

Changing the rhythm of the point
Pickleball is all about speeding up and slowing down the rhythm of the point, as well as changing the speed of the ball. Dinking (hitting soft) so the ball lands in or near the non-volley zone (the kitchen) slows down the point, but you increase the speed of the ball and the point to catch your opponents off guard. This is something that ALL tennis players need to have in their game. The ability to control the tempo of your tennis game during match play is important to your overall success!

Can tennis and pickleball co-exist? My answer to that is a resounding YES! To learn more about pickleball or tennis, consult your local USPTA, PTR, GPTA, PPR tennis and pickleball professional.

pickleball clinic


ALTA Pickleball Social Mixer
You asked and we answered. ALTA is launching its first annual ALTA Pickleball Social Mixer on May 13. We will offer a beginner’s clinic and round-robin play. Come early at 6:30 p.m. if you are a beginner or have never played, and we will have pickleball professionals available to show you how to play. If you are a seasoned player and want to participate in round-robin play, you will want to come out and enjoy this great event. We have three different locations for this first mixer, so please make plans to join us.

Date: May 13, 2022
Time: 6:30 p.m. until 9:00 p.m.
Place: Sandy Springs Tennis Center, Windward Lake Club in Alpharetta and Life Time Athletic and Tennis in Peachtree Corners.
Cost: $10.00
Register at altatennis.org.

If you have any questions, please email altaeditor@altatennis.org.

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