If you follow us, you have heard me rail against excessive backswing in your pickleball stroke. That does not mean, however, that you should sacrifice the follow through along with the backswing. Each is a wholly different part of the stroke and are not lumped together.
The backswing is the part of the pickleball stroke BEFORE you make contact with the ball. Start where you hit the ball and then work your way backwards to where your paddle was when you started your swing. That part is the BACKswing.
You have now made contact with the ball and are in what is called the follow through (not sure why it is not called the forwardswing for consistency sake, but them’s the breaks). The follow through is the part of the stroke mechanics that occurs after you hit the ball and is where the paddle goes and ultimately ends up AFTER contact.
There can sometimes be confusion between the backswing and the follow through and so when players hear “shorten your backswing” they end up shortening the whole swing. And that is not what we mean.
You shorten the backswing because it is a mostly unnecessary part of the stroke. The follow through, however, is not the same thing and having a proper follow through can improve most of your pickleball strokes.
First, it can help reduce errors by giving shape to your stroke mechanics and providing a better stroke foundation that is less prone to error (think shoulder-generated strokes vs. elbow or wrist shots). Second, help avoid errors by giving you better direction to your shots: higher to avoid the net or left-right to avoid the sidelines. Third, shape your shots into the spot and along the arc of your choosing.
One last note, arguing for follow through mastery does not mean a super long follow through. Pickleball, particularly at the NVZ, is a game of speed. Having an exaggerated follow through will rob you of recovery time and you may find yourself out of position to react to the next shot. Use follow through to control your shot’s shape and reduce errors but keep it reasonable in length.
Good luck out there
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.