Did you know that you can win a rally in pickleball by firing the ball into your opponent’s court without even going over the net? It’s called an around-the-post (ATP) shot, and it’s totally legal! i
Novice players who don’t know all the rules, sometimes think ATPs are illegal.. If you ever have a chance to make an ATP shot, you should absolutely go for it! In the right circumstances, it’s relatively easy to execute, highly fun, and nearly impossible to return.
Also Check Out: Critical Tips For Intermediate Pickleball Players
What is an ATP in Pickleball?
An around-the-post shot is just what it sounds like: a shot that goes around the post instead of over the net.
ATP opportunities usually present themselves when your opponents hit a cross-court shot that sends the ball off the side of the court after the bounce. The ball goes beyond the width of the net and presents an open path back to the opponent’s side of the court.
All that you need to do is hit the ball straight into their court, usually behind them if they are on the kitchen line, resulting in a nearly impossible shot to return.
ATP shots can be high or low, and have spin or not – the only requirements are that the ball hasn’t touched out of bounds yet and that it lands back in bounds on your opponent’s side of the court.
It should look something like this:
5 Tips To Execute a perfect ATP
While the ATP shot isn’t too complicated, it does take some time to master, which can be difficult because in-game ATP opportunities are relatively rare. But with enough intentionality, awareness, and the right technique, you can be an ATP master soon enough!
Here are five helpful tips that will help you perfect the ATP in pickleball.
Just as with any shot in pickleball, awareness and preparedness will go a long way. It’s essential for you to be able to anticipate and react to your opponent’s shots in order to set up ATP opportunities.
To stay aware and ready, keep an eye out for cross-court shots coming in from steep angles from the other side of the court.
The shots you’re looking for are the ones where the pickleball will bounce near the sideline of the court and carry on out of bounds.
These shots will present the perfect ATP opportunities where ball should carries far enough that you have a clear path to fire the ball into the other side of the court.
In doubles ATPs often come off of cross court dinks that either hit the net or are struck at an extreme angle resulting in a very wide ball.
In order to execute an ATP in pickleball, you first need to be able to identify the opportunity and prepare for the shot. Keeping the desire for an ATP shot in mind and remaining aware of what chances might present themselves to you is the first step to putting the ATP shot in your arsenal.
Now that you’re aware of the opportunities and how to identify them, you need to stay disciplined enough to set up the shot.
In order to hit a good ATP, you need to let the ball travel off the side of the court so you can have a clear view of your opponent’s backcourt and hit the ball around the post.
It’s often tempting to hit any ball as soon as you are able, but if you want to hit an ATP, you need to wait for the ball to be in the right position.
The further the ball moves outside the court, the easier the ATP shot will be. In addition, the closer the ball is to the ground, the lower your ATP will be. A well waited for and struck ATP can be virtually impossible to return.
Patience is key when setting up an ATP shot.
3. Adjust Your Body For The Shot
Now that you’re ready to identify the opportunity and allow the shot to develop, you need to prepare your body to execute the shot. Your footwork is particularly important here.
Here’s what you’ll want to do:
- Stay close (but behind) the pickleball. Since the ball will likely have some degree of spin or power behind it, you’ll have to keep your feet moving quickly to get in position for the ATP shot. It’s important not to get too close to the ball, though – you’ll want to be just behind the ball and ready to swing.
- Keep low to the ground. You want to be in a low, ready stance so that you can strike the ball just before it hits the ground on its second bounce.
- Keep your stance open and your feet in a balanced stride if possible. If the ball is moving fast and close to the ground, you’ll want to do whatever you can to keep up.
Adjusting your body and coordinating your footwork will help you make it where you need to be on the court and ensure that any ATP shot you attempt will have a much higher success rate.
4. Identify Your Target
Whether you are hitting a forehand or a backhand ATP, take note of where your opponents are and try to hit a spot away from them.
At lower levels almost any ATP will be a winner, but as you climb the ranks, making your opponents move to hit the defense will ensure that if they are able to get to it, they are more likely to pop the ball up.
That all being said, do not get so focused on hitting a perfect spot that you miss the ATP. The beauty of this shot is that it is extremely difficult to return, so be sure to give yourself the best chance possible to hit it in play.
5. Execute Your ATP Swing
Finally, it’s time to strike the ball. When hitting an ATP shot, it’s important to execute a few key mechanics:
- Adjust your grip so you can swing a quick and low shot
- Keep your eye on the ball
- Take a small backswing
- Hit the ball out in front of your body
- Keep your feet moving and balanced so you can reset defensively in case the ball is returned again.
When executing an ATP, the ball can be hit in a variety of ways, but be sure to stay true to the fundamentals of what makes a quality swing and how to approach the ball.
ATPs may not happen in every game, but if you can properly identify the right opportunities and execute the approach and shot, the ATP can be a valuable (and fun) shot to have in your bag of tricks!
ATP shots can be dinks, power shots, or even lobs, but however you choose to use the ATP, remember to be aware, patient, intentional, and ready.