Welcome to the Pickleball Paddles Plus Strategy Guide
Often, when players are first getting into Pickleball they receive a lot of information from a lot of sources. Over time you will realize that many of the tips you received were coming from players who knew only a
little bit more than you did. Players love to share their enthusiasm for the sport, and frequently fail to realize they're ending up in a blind-leading-the-blind situation. Take it from us, there are a lot of well-meaning people out there who just don't know enough about coaching, or about you as an individual player, to provide the best advice. So, we're here to help you along by offering tips and suggestions that players of any caliber can practice, absorb into their game, and use to improve to the next skill level.
1) Just Get It In!
Have you ever frustrated yourself in a game by making errors on seemingly easy shots and giving away points? Guess what, everyone has! So the best piece of advice we can provide to players just starting out is...focus only on returning a shot over the net. That's it! Don't look for that killer put-away shot and don't try to blow one past your opponent. These are rookie error which will put balls out of bounds or into the net more often than you'd like. Instead, just return the shot. Then return it again. Be consistent in getting your shots over the net and in bounds. If you maintain your patience longer than your opponent does, who is likely falling prey to the "hit it hard!" fallacy, you will win points all day long. In short, just return balls consistently and let
your opponent make the mistakes. Easy, right?
2) Hit It Down The Middle
Most pickleball is played in teams of doubles. And the most effective way to confuse your opposing team and win points is to place your shot down the middle of the court, between the players, forcing them to make the split-second decision of who should hit it back. This is an easy tip which works a surprisingly high percentage of the time. Pickleball players are gracious and really want to avoid getting in each other's way. So, make it difficult for the other team to decide who should be the aggressor and go after a shot hit between them. Try it, you'll see.
3) Soft Shots Rule The Day
For those with a tennis background, this tip is particularly counter-intuitive. Tennis players like to blast long shots from their own baseline to their opponent's baseline. While these shots can look and sound impressive, in Pickleball they're not winners because they're easy to return. Each point in Pickleball can quickly develop into a game of short "dinks" just barely over the net and into your opponent's No Volley Zone (or "Kitchen"). Knowing this, it is a
must that you work on your dinking. Even at the pro level, the vast majority of shots hit are short, strategic dinks. Develop soft hands; use your whole arm and shoulder moving as one unit to pop that ball barely over the net. You will be surprised at how often an opponent will put one into the net, giving you the point, when forced to dink for extended perios. Finally, when your opponent appears to be willing to engage you in a "dink war" and is actually getting them over the net consistently, they'll often accidentally pop one up too high; then, you attack!
4) Strategic Lobs
Using lob shots are a great way to move your opponent around the court and throw off their rhythm. When a number of shots have been hit low, or hard, and you're both proving comfortable in returning them, lob one over their head toward the baseline and send them hustling back to chase it down. If you've caught them by surprise with this shot, they'll find themselves out of position to even return it. If they do prove fast enough to get to it and return the shot, chances are it will be a shot you can also return easily to reset the rally. Or, after your lob and their return, drop another soft one just barely over the net to send them scrambling back up! This is a quick way to wear out your opponent, keep them guessing, and win some easy points.
5) Watch The Ball
Believe it or not, many players fail to keep this one simple tip in mind. That is because the pickleball court is a busy place. There are multiple players running around, it can be a fast game when all four players are at the kitchen line, and there are probably some other courts nearby with noise and distractions of their own, so recreational players tend to focus more on their opponent than on the ball itself. It's easy to do. However, training yourself to maintain a singular focus on the ball in play will help you anticipate where the next shot is going and will allow you to get into position to return it with ease. See the holes in the ball, notice how it is spinning, and watch it all the way to your paddle and through making contact with it. This takes discipline to maintain this focus all the way through a rally, much less a whole game. So practice locking onto the ball with your eyes, and you will surprise yourself with how this minimizes your tendency to mis-hit the ball. You will be amazed at what happens when you're no longer distracted by your opponents, or the action on the court. Consistent returns and great shots begin with
really seeing the ball.
Remember, this game is a lot of fun! How many times have you had a bad day, or find your self in a bad mood only to step onto a court with some friends (or making new friends!) only to have your disposition turn completely around within minutes? It happens all the time! This is because it's really difficult to maintain a bad mood when you're active. So head for the court, shake some hands, tap some paddles, trade some stories, be thankful for another beautiful day, and SMILE while you enjoy the fun game with the funny name that we've all grown to love so dearly. Enjoy!