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What is a Chop in Pickleball?

A retro guy playing pickleball in court.

Pickleball is quickly becoming a favorite pastime for many in the U.S. While it is a sport that anyone can play, it seems to be popular with retired individuals. This sport provides excellent exercise, interaction, and a sense of community.

It is easy to learn, but it does have some specific rules that can take time and practice to master. To be able to master the plays in pickleball, you must first understand all the rules and the nuances of the game. This article explains more about a chop in pickleball.

Continue reading to find out all the details you need to know.

What is a Chop in Pickleball?

Male pickelball player reaches for the ball during a tournament.

Another name for a chop is a slice or a backspin. A chop is a downward stroke that puts a backspin on your pickleball. When you slide the lower and middle part of the ball, it spins downward and flies into your opponent’s area.

What Are the Different Versions of a Chop?

Pickleball player bends low for a volley of the wiffle ball duri.

There are three different versions or types of chop depending on the trajectory height.

Flat Ball

A flat ball is one that is hit so that the main cut to the ball is in the middle. This causes the ball to have a flat trajectory. It is also a more aggressive and faster ball.

Medium and High Ball

The medium and high ball is when the main chip is on the middle and rear of the ball. This gives a parabolic curve to the ball that is not high. This type of chop is used the most and is great to incorporate into your offensive strategy.

When using this chop, you want it to fall into the non-volley zone (NVZ). This prevents your opponent from being able to press down and attack.

High Ball

A high ball is when the slide is on the bottom of the ball. This allows the ball to travel at a higher arc. This also means that the ball is a little slower, and your opponent has more time to respond and return the ball to you.

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You typically want a high ball to land in the non-volley zone. This also prevents your opponent from pressing down and attacking.

When Should I Use a Chop?

A mixed doubles team competes in a pickleball tournament.

When your opponent has a strong backspin on the ball, you may want to use a chop. You can also use a chop when the hitting point of the ball is low. When the cutting action is small, it gives you a ball path that is easy to control.

You can also use a chop to set the net to give yourself more time to have the ball returned to you. You can also consider using the chop when your opponent has a high return that is in front of the net. You can change the placement and momentum of the ball, which may cause your opponent to make mistakes.

One of the main intents of a chop is to transition the ball and create a new opportunity for your next shot.

How Do I Become Better at a Chop?

Young man and woman playing pickleball in court.

Practice is one of the main things you should do to become a pro at chopping. However, when you are practicing a chop, there are some things to keep in mind. When you cut the ball, you want to wrap it as much as you can while trying to ace it.

This helps the ball create more rotation. When executing this movement, you want to remain relaxed and move in the direction to advance the ball forward. You also want to focus on kicking the ground and turning your waist to put more force on the ball.

A slice, or chop, is dependent on feel more than anything, making it imperative to practice the touch needed to chop the ball. Another way to practice is with a partner. You can have a partner serving the ball to you at different heights and speeds.

You will attempt to chop the ball into a specified area. You want to work on having more than 50 consecutive chops during one practice session. If you want to master the chop, you must practice every day.

You want to focus on at least ten sets of exercises to master the chop.