An Intro to Pickleball Strategies
As with all sports, pickleball has certain strategies that can help you to win the game and improve your skill. More importantly, strategies increase the camaraderie as you learn a new game that’s taken flight over recent years. Like with other sports, you will have some terminology to learn as well as movements. Find out the best strategies so you can enjoy the game without sweating except on the court. We offer strategies for both singles and doubles to help you no matter what type of game you prefer. Get answers to a few of your questions too.
Playing singles allows you a friendly game between you and one opponent. No need to try and communicate with another player or added pressure to your performance. Let’s look at some strategies to get you winning against a single opponent.
Stick to simple shorts until you move up in skill. Beginners need to stick to deep serves to get the ball past the middle to avoid the chance for your opponent to get a wide hit. Serving may be the most important aspect of pickleball as it lines up your return. Make sure to focus on your position instead of your location to the net.
Start strong with a firm and deep hit into your opponent’s court. Even after the third introduction shot, keep the momentum going as points are won through errors and faults more so than hits. Vary your direction to keep your opponent on the defense as they will not know where to expect the next shot.
Stick to the center of the court as a single player so you can better anticipate where to move around the court. This allows you to go to the left, right, or back without expending too much energy. Now you are ready to line up your aim for deep returns towards the corners to keep your opponent moving. Staying in the back center is another great idea as most hits will go toward the back.
Returning the Ball
When returning the ball, you want to keep your opponent moving and surprised. Your opponent will probably be in the middle of the court and ready to go in either direction, so send them off to the far end of either direction. Getting them running to either corner gives you the advantage.
While Pickleball requires you to move, it is not a highly mobile game as you stay in a small area. Keep your paddle in front of you and at the ready. However, you need to be prepared and agile for the entire game. Stay light on your feet, preferably on the balls of each foot, for quicker response times. Anticipate the other player’s next move by paying close attention to the position of their paddle and aim towards that direction, especially for backhands. Also, make sure you have the right shoes for playing pickleball.
Exasperate Your Opponent
Pickleball wins are often due to point lost from errors. If you stick to the basics, your opponent will get irritated and impatient and probably try something a little fancy, which could lead to errors in the game. You play basic and let your opponent make the extravagant moves that might not work.
To find weaknesses, you need to keep a constant eye on your opponent. Know their skill level first as you can know what to expect if they try anything fancy. Watch their hand motion to find out if they are planning a power move or a low shot.
Doubles allow to increase the players and create two teams. It’s double the fun but also includes different strategies. Let’s take a look and get you on the court winning against a team.
First things first, you need to get comfortable in your own skin and not stress out. Focus on communicating with your partner and tracking the ball. Try to keep things simple, too, and keep your opponent on the move. Get your opponents confused with both you and your partner working in unison.
Try to return the ball to the center to force your opponents to keep moving and confused with two people trying to go the same way. Also, see if you can get the ball bounce around the foot of the baseline to maximize your return to the net.
Focus on accurate shots and leave the fancy stuff to the other side so they can gain the errors. Again, keep the hits low and deep while keeping an eye out for the other team’s weaknesses. For week backhands, on the other side, have your partner hit hard that way for the most advantage.
Turn your game into a dance with your partner by staying in-sync as much as possible. Find a way to dance around each other without getting in each other’s way. Both of you should pick a side but stay close to the center so you can move with ease where you need to go. If you can keep one player back a little, it will help to move without bumping.
When the ball is in the air, it’s time to think of how to hit the ball without giving away your intentions to the other player. If possible, return the ball to the center of the court on the other side to keep both opponents moving in the same direction and cause them to fall out of sync.
As with most things, when it comes to couples, you need to make communication key. Talk about strategies before the game and skill levels too. Find out each other favorite position and paddles strengths along with what extravagant moves they like to try and vice versa. Also, make sure both teammates clearly call out whose ball it is before running off for the ball. Lack of communication can cause you to lose the game.
Like with singles, keep on the balls of your feet. Find a clear path away from your partner, so you both have easy access to moving around without bumping. Try to avoid random movement and keep an eye on your partner when moving around the net. Pre-established boundaries can help.
Third Shot Strategy
A game does not really start until the third shot. Now that the game is really moving, and you can try fun moves like the middle drop shot where you hit low over the net into the center of the other side. As you move up in skill, move on to trying fancier moves like dinking, drilling the net, and other moves. Be careful using elaborate moves with skilled players.
An important strategy in pickleball is poaching; you may need to poach on your partner’s space, that is, cross over into their side of the court to get a hit. With the right level of trust and communication, this move can save the day. Finally, be clear and decisive about your move.
Skill levels start with beginners all the way up to level four which is pro. With each level you achieve, the more skill you can gain. Try not to focus on levels too much and more on reading the game. The only difference between a beginner and upper levels is time playing, natural ability, and the ability to branch out and try new moves. Focus more on reading your opponents and the court and playing people above your level as you can learn a lot from advanced players.
FAQ’s About Pickleball Strategies
What constitutes a pickleball fault?
A pickleball fault includes when the ball is volleyed before the bounce on each side, it hits outside the bounds, it does not clear the net, the ball volleys from the non-volley zone, and if the ball touches any part of the non-volley zone on the serve. If you aren’t sure, ask a seasoned player.
What is dinking?
Dinking refers to procrastinating! Extending the game as long as you can allow your opponent to make mistakes before you, which is the point of dinking. Hit the ball softly just over the net into the NVZ of your opponent for a soft low bounce. This method can help you win the game but only depending on how your opponent plays and responds to your procrastination. Basically, dinking can set the game to your advantage while also ruining your opponent’s ability to drive a shot back your way. Use this method to prevent losing, if not to win.
What is Spin?
Spinning refers to making the ball spin in order to get again on your opponent. You can use a topspin serve or side spin to get a different spin on the ball and create a more unsteady ball your opponent will hopefully miss.
Final Thoughts About Pickleball Strategy
Pickleball offers fun for any age but requires some knowledge and strategy. Once you have a few moves down and strategies under your belt, you will be ready to start leveling your skill up and taking your game anywhere you would like to go. So get a pickleball set and a bag to carry it all in, take your time, learn everything you can, and most importantly, have fun!