Welcome to the first “Cup of Joe.” As a regular feature of this column, we will share statistics from charting various pickleball matches. Here’s the first. In men’s doubles, 40% of the balls hit are touch shots. In women’s or mixed, it averages 45%. What do these percentages mean in practical terms about what shots to practice? Whether you are a male or female player, nearly half of your practice time should be spent on “dinks” off the bounce and soft controlled volleys. The question is how to practice these delicate shots since most of your pickleball friends just want to play games. Here are options that offer higher quality practice and exercise in less time, without the scheduling challenges that come with lining up a foursome.

1.Wall Practice– Find a nearby schoolyard wall or use your garage door. Worried about marking the garage door? Just use a foam tennis ball as a good option.

2.Solo Practice– Since delicate touch shots are so important in pickleball, just do “ups and downs” a few minutes a day to improve your consistency and control. Try both standing still and walking.

3.Rebounder Nets and Tarps– search the pickleball websites. There are several creative possibilities.

4.Ball machines– several options are available. Again, Google search is your friend! Just be aware that by practicing alone just a few minutes a day you can raise your playing level significantly in a matter of weeks. Just don’t share this secret with your opponents!

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