CJ Johnson Headshot
CJ Johnson
Tony Roig
Tony Roig

Is That The Reason You Lost The Rally?

I enjoy playing with different levels of pickleball players. From pro players to beginners. Go out there and bat the ball around, share some laughs and get some movement in.

One of the things that stands out to me is how often players focus in on the “wrong” thing when they lose a rally.

An example: All four players have made it up to the non-volley zone line. One player hits a really good angle dink pulling your partner out of position. The ball gets popped up and “BAM!” you end up on the wrong end of a slam.

Oftentimes the player who did not dig the slam will wonder what they could have done differently: paddle ready, move into a better spot, etc.

The player who popped the ball up will wonder whether they could have bit the ball somewhere better, moved sooner, etc.

On its face, there is nothing wrong with this sort of reflection, provided it is done constructively.


It is normally way down the list of things that the players should be worried about.

Many times in that same game the players are missing the basics. The returns of serve, returning short, inviting their opponents forward, missing fourth shots, and doing other things that are waaaaayyyyyy more important to their improvement than the stress dink – pop up – slam combo.

Let me be clear. I am not saying that players cannot try to improve their lateral movement and get-out-of-jail shots. What I AM saying is that 85% of players need to chalk those rallies up to “good shot” and focus on the much bigger areas in their game that are holding them back.

The truth is that not only will these other areas result in a greater gain for the player, but they are also generally lower hanging fruit (easier to fix) as well.

As a result, our advice for players is to focus on the higher-margin, more easily attainable areas of the game. These areas will provide greater results in a shorter amount of time. Once these are ironed out, then the players can move to other areas. Like mastering the counter to a really good angle dink.

Next time you are out there, try to weed out the low-hanging fruit / big picture items that are adversely impacting your game (thinking return of serve here). Focus on those first and you can then move on to the next.

Not sure what’s your low hanging fruit?

Turn on your video camera and see if its’ any of the basics. If you see any of the basics, especially something on the return side start there first. You’ll be amazed at how quickly you’ll improve.

The Better Pickleball Success Path™ is built with these principles in mind. We take an incremental step-by-step approach to your pickleball improvement.

Want to explore this topic more? Listen to the Podcast

Tony Roig

Hola. Hello. Konichiwa. After 40 years playing tennis, I am now a full-time pickleball player and professional. As a 5.0 rated Senior Pro Pickleball Player and an IPTPA-certified Master Teaching Professional, my focus is on helping players like you learn to play their best pickleball. In 2016, shortly after starting to play pickleball, my friend Tom and I jumped into the highest division at the first US Open in Naples, Florida. That morning it became clear just how much there is to learn in this seemingly simple sport – a lifetime of learning if you so choose. Since 2018, I have been on a mission to share my knowledge of pickleball so other players can enjoy the game at a higher level and attain their pickleball objectives. When not studying or playing pickleball, I like to travel with my other half, Jill.


  1. Avatar photo Charles Yokomoto on February 27, 2022 at 3:45 am

    I keep waiting for mechanics information related to my loss of depth perception and eye-hand coordination. I lost them when my vision changed greatly. I used to be able to juggle three tennis balls continuously but can’t juggle them anymore because I can’t catch the balls. I’m sure this has reduced my ability to contact the balls near the center of the paddle, and I have started to work on keeping my eyes on the ball longer. Otherwise, I’m prone to making contact with the ball toward the outer edge of the paddle. But, the problem with keeping my eyes on the ball longer means that my peripheral vision is reduced, so I don’t see as much of the court and the opponents as I used to. It would help me a lot if you would talk about eye-hand coordination and depth perception. I’m sure that some of the drills you teach improve eye-hand coordination and depth perception. but I have to try the drills and hope that they improve these two skills. I can use all the help you can give me.

    • Avatar photo CJ Johnson on February 27, 2022 at 4:00 am

      Hi Charles, one of the things you can do is to bounce the ball on the paddle. That’s a great drill around the house. Another tool that we love is the Brock String. https://amzn.to/3hoHf7s Here’s a video from a while back that has some helpful drills https://youtu.be/4d7GnCM7zS8. Last but not least I use Vizual Edge, it’s an amazing program and not only have we had a lot of success with VE but so have many of our students. You can check it out at vizualedge.com/Better Pickleball.

  2. Avatar photo Linda DeCurzio on February 27, 2022 at 2:42 pm

    This sounds perfect!!
    I would like to do this, however, I need to take care of some family business and won’t be able to afford right now.
    I’ll have to keep this n get back to it.
    This is exactly what I need!!😄

    I love your info n videos. Your very easy to understand. Thank you 👍

    Linda DeCurzio

    • Avatar photo CJ Johnson on February 27, 2022 at 9:42 pm

      Hi Linda, thank you for the compliment. We will always have plenty of free resources to help your pickleball game!

  3. Avatar photo Marty on February 28, 2022 at 3:24 am

    Can you use the visual edge program if you are color blind?

    • Avatar photo CJ Johnson on February 28, 2022 at 3:38 am

      Hi Marty, Here’s what the experts at Vizual Edge had to say about color blindness. Anyone who is Red/Blue colorblind will not be able to use 50% of the exercises we provide, including the baseline test so it is likely not worth the investment for them. You might want to consider a Brock String. https://amzn.to/3Hs88Sw It’s no where near as comprehensive as the VE system but it will likely help you to improve your reactions.

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