By: CJ Johnson | November 18, 2016 |

Stay at the Net to Play Better Pickleball


Stay at the NetYou’ve probably been taught the importance of moving to the net at as quickly as possible. Getting there is half the battle now you need to stay at the net.

When Laura Fenton Kovanda, a top-ranked 5.0 player, gave a clinic to our club this year she worked with us on both aspects how to effectively move to the non-volley zone line as a team and then how to stay at the net.


During the clinic she spotted my tendency to back away from the line. Even though it was only a small amount she pointed out that it’s the opening a good player is looking for to finish off the point. Anytime my partner and I were not even with each other that was giving the team an advantage.

I like the analogy of a wall, when you and your partner are right next to each other it’s more difficult for your opponents to get the ball through the barrier. When there is a forward and backward separation between partners it’s a weaker position.

Since the clinic I worked to be more aware of my body position when I am at the kitchen. The biggest benefit I have noticed is that when my body is in the correct position it becomes more obvious to me when to take the ball out of the air and when to let it bounce.

Video from the recent USAPA Nationals shows how some of the top teams in the world move effectively at the net. When I saw this point with Daniel Moore and Matt Staub I was impressed by their movement as a team. That lead me to set up my camera to see just how my partner and I were moving together. Not as good as Daniel and Matt but hopefully you can learn a little from our mistakes. (We did)

Here are my 3 takeaways

1 Keep your feet close to the non-volley line

All the players the top players in this segment hit some in the air and some on the bounce. I’ve noticed that when I am back from the line I have to reach or let one bounce instead of taking it in the air. I am in the best position to make a decision to take it in the air or let it bounce when my feet are at the non-volley zone.

2. If you step AWAY from the non-volley line step BACK to the line after the shot

Matt and Daniel did this almost every time. Not something we were as proficient at doing.

3. Move with your teammate to create a wall

The best teams in the world strive to match each other front to back and side to side to eliminate vulnerability to attack.


I’d love to hear what you’ve done to stay at the net. Make sure to comment down below.

Did this help you? I would greatly appreciate if you shared on Facebook.


CJ Johnson

Hey there — I’m a professional three-sport athlete and coach who has spent my entire adult life earning a living from playing and coaching sports. Since I started coaching more than three decades ago, one thing has remained the same: My commitment to see students not as they are but as what they can become and to move heaven and earth to help them realize their untapped potential. You should know that when it comes to helping pickleball players over 50 live their best lives on and off the courts, I'm an expert. Good pickleball is not just technique; it's the mind and body working holistically. That's why I'm also a personal trainer and weight management specialist. When I’m chillin', you'll find me watching Star Trek with my husband John and our two fur babies, Shirley and Ralph. (Yes, Happy Days)