Go Ahead: Hit Me With the Ball
While playing our favorite sport, being hit with the ball can be scary. When the ball whizzes straight at you like a missile, your heart rate jumps, and it stings if it connects. It can leave bruises and could potentially be dangerous. Although being hit with the ball is part of the game, it can cause conflict on the court. Some players are offended if they are hit; some get their feelings hurt as if their opponent is hitting them purposefully.
While I do not enjoy bruises or painful stings, I go onto a court with the full awareness I may be hit, and my philosophy is "Bring it on!" I purposefully choose not to be afraid of the "little wiffleball" (which is what I call it to boost confidence) and I empower myself with the reminder to keep my paddle up for protection as the wall which keeps me safe.
I've hit plenty of people with the ball, especially when the ball is hit high and it's an easy slam to make the point. When I hit someone, I apologize-- I never want to hurt someone. Sometimes my opponent looks at me like I am Godzilla, but the truth is this: if I was so accurate that I could hit an opponent at will, all of my shots would be more consistent in a game. In other words, it's an accident. And every ball sport has the risk of being hit; be aware it's the same thing with pickleball.
While hitting an opponent can be an accident, it's also a strategic, perfectly acceptable shot to jam someone. You make it look like you're continuing a dinking rally, but then you flip the paddle so that the ball comes zooming across the net, surprising your opponent who can't return the shot. You hit your opponent and jam them to win the point. If a ball is popped up, it's also a valid strategy to hit it right at the opponent as they'll be less likely to make a return shot. If the goal is to win the game, this is a valid strategy, and if you're on the court, you need to be ready for this to happen.
Psychologically, so that I am empowered, I prefer taking ownership when I am hit with the ball. When my opponent apologizes, I reply, "No apology needed. It's my fault." I take ownership-- knowing I am part of the equation. And if I am part of the equation, I have the athleticism and capability to prevent this from happening. If a ball is hit hard at me, I have the option to move out of the way and let it go out. (the BEST way to make a point). I am also carrying a large pickleball paddle, and simply by keeping it in an upright position which is where it's "supposed" to be, it serves as a protective barrier and I will not be hit. Again, it's about ownership, responsibility, and empowerment.
So, if you're continually being hit, change how you play your game. Watch the ball, keep your paddle up, and protect yourself. Don't let aggressive bangers penetrate your defense!
If your opponent continually hits you easily and consistently, take a break from these types of games. Keep drilling and playing until your skills increase and you can defend yourself against anyone!
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