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Paddle Mini

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paddles and ball

platform tennis paddles with soft, light ball

(C)2010 Jeff Cooper licensed to About.com, Inc.

Paddle mini is a hybrid of pickleball and mini tennis. It uses pickleball or platform tennis paddles with an ITF Stage 2 or similar ball on a mini tennis court. With these moderately heavy paddles and very light balls, paddle mini is much easier on the arm than tennis or platform tennis, and it may be the best exercise of any racquet sport, as the typical point is fairly long with lots of chasing down angle shots and only a brief pause before the next point starts.

Rules

The court boundaries are the two service boxes on each side of the net. As in tennis, lines are in.

Serves must be hit underhand, without a bounce, from below the waist, with both feet behind the correct half of the service line, into the crosscourt service box. Once the ball is in play, it can be hit anywhere in bounds, either after one bounce or in the air. The server gets only one chance to make a good serve. Service lets are the same as in tennis.

Only the server can score a point. If the receiver wins a rally, he or she wins the serve. Points are tallied using regular counting numbers (1, 2, 3 . . .) until one player wins 11 points by a margin of 2 or more. If the score reaches 10-all, the earliest final score would be 12-10; play continues until one player has a 2-point margin.

If the sum of both players' scores is even, including 0-0, the server serves from the right side, if odd, from the left. Players change ends after each game.

The rest of the rules of paddle mini are the same as in tennis.

Tactics

Paddle mini is all about angles. Skilled players can make their opponents run well beyond the doubles sidelines to retrieve the ball. An exceptional angle shot may win a point outright, but more often, one angle is used to set up the next. You can have great fun running a speedy opponent back and forth a few times and then hitting behind (wrong-footing) her, but she may also turn the tables on you by using her wide position on reaching one of your angle shots to hit an even more severe angle against you.

Topspin will help you land the ball within the sidelines on your angle shots and within the service lines on power shots, but the paddles, the ball, and the shortness of the court all prevent hitting with the kind of pace you can produce in tennis, and it's almost impossible to make the ball kick enough to bother your opponent with height. Even though the result isn't tremendous ball speed, the whack you can give the ball is quite satisfying.

As in tennis, slice will help you keep the ball low, and the Stage 2 ball will stay even lower than a tennis ball. Low, skidding approach shots work nicely, and despite the shortness of the court, it's worth turning some of your slices into drop shots.

Net play is roughly as effective as in tennis; the keys are positioning and a good approach shot. Surprisingly, your opponent may be able to lob over you within the short court, and he has less to fear from your overhead than in tennis.

Below, in two formats, is a 17-second video clip of a paddle mini point.

WMV (Windows Media) Video (6 MB)

MOV (QuickTime) Video (3 MB)

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