There are a lot of “P’s” to the sport of pickleball… pickleball, paddle, Pickler, etc. If you want to get the most out of your time on the pickleball court, learn how to mind your P’s.
Pickleball preparation can mean a variety of things. It could mean physically preparing for a shot, by being in a ready position with your feet shoulder width apart, knees bent, weight on the balls of your feet, and paddle up and out in front of your body. It could also mean being mentally prepared to play so that you do not have any distractions, having a good warm up to avoid injury, or otherwise preparing to play by taking care of your body by eating properly and staying hydrated even before you hit the courts. Each of these preparation items are important.
Sometimes, whether you win or lose on the pickleball court depends on whether you are in the right place at the right time. Court positioning is crucial. There are a couple basic rules of the game for court positioning, which include:
- Work your way to the Non-Volley Zone line as soon as possible, as most points in pickleball are won there.
- Be sure to follow the flight of the pickleball. For instance, if you hit the pickleball crosscourt, move on an angle and follow the pickleball crosscourt.
- It is imperative that you stay linked with your partner and work together as a team. To do this, you should imagine that a six- to eight-foot rope holds you and your partner together at all times. You and your partner should move up and back on the pickleball court together, as well as side to side—always staying within six to eight feet of each other.
Like in real estate, pickleball is all about location, location, location! Placement is crucial on the pickleball court and, oftentimes, placement is the determining factor of whether a shot is a winner or returnable by your opponents. The right placement at a certain time may depend on where you are, where your partner is, where your opponents are, and where the pickleball is on the pickleball court. Every pickleball player and every pickleball point is different, so it is important to evaluate the players and point in front of you. With that said, the most obvious shot is usually the right shot for you to take.
For some placement strategies when you are on the pickleball court, check out Pickler’s pickleball blog, Hit Your Spots! Why Placement Is More Important than Power.
Although placement may be more important than power, power on the pickleball court can be debilitating to an opposing team. Hard drives, well-timed speed ups, and penetrating overheads are impactful when trying to win points. So, use your power when you can on the pickleball court.
It is important to note that power starts from your legs. Engage your legs when you are trying to hit for power, rather than swinging only from your shoulder or your arms. Also, when it comes to power, it is your transfer of weight in your legs (from back to front) that is more important than simply bending your knees. So, work on transferring your weight—in a timely fashion—when you are striking the pickleball.
The old saying, “patience is a virtue,” holds true in pickleball. You generally want to be patient and construct or build a point. For instance, if you come out of a dink rally too early and try to speed up the point, you will likely lose the point. As a result, you must remain patient in your mind and in your body, and construct or build a point until you have an attackable shot. Wait for the attackable shot (like a high dink from your opponents), and then attack! Otherwise, remain patient and let the point continue to build.
If you carefully pay attention to the sport of pickleball, there are a lot of patterns that emerge during points. For instance, crosscourt dinking is a popular pattern, especially in mixed doubles. This pattern may continue until someone makes a mistake and pops up a crosscourt dink.
These pickleball patterns play into strategy, which is so important to the sport of pickleball. Pickleball could be considered a mental game, like chess. By paying attention to patterns—including what patterns are effective and which ones are not effective for both you and your partner, as well as your opponents—you will be able to pick up on clues for strategy and what shots you and your partner should be hitting in order to be successful.
For some doubles and singles strategies when you are on the pickleball court, check out Pickler’s pickleball blogs, Pickleball Strategy: 13 Tips & Techniques to Win Big and Pickleball Strategy: 9 Singles Pickleball Tips to Win Big.
Poise on the pickleball court essentially refers to staying cool, calm, and collected on the pickleball court, which is when you will play at your best. Although the physical part of the pickleball is important, the mental game can be even more important. So, keep your poise on the pickleball court, so that you can physically perform at your best.
As you may know, pickleball is popularly played in doubles. As a result, finding the right partner, as well as developing a strong partnership is important. To help be a better partner on the pickleball court, try the following:
- Ooze of positivity to help keep you and your partner playing at your best. Most pickleball players play better when in a positive space, rather than a negative one.
- Communicate on the pickleball court by calling shots and strategizing together on the pickleball court.
- Take responsibility for your shots. Give credit to your partner (and your opponents) for good pickleball play. Take the blame for bad shots—even bad shots by your partner, as you may have contributed to the bad shot, such as by having a poor shot before to set up the bad shot.
- Be consistent and not a showboat on the pickleball court. Pickleball is about consistency. One fancy shot will not win the match.
- Know both your and your partner’s strengths and weaknesses with respect to pickleball skills and personality on the pickleball court. If you really know your partner, you can create synergy between you and your partner. Your pickleball game will be better than the sum of your and your partner’s individual talents.
Just like anything else in life, if you want to improve your pickleball play, it is necessary to practice your skills. Drilling your pickleball mechanics and practicing your shots is important in order to commit those mechanics and shots to muscle memory and to make them second nature or habitual.
Generally speaking, you must do any skill, such as hit a particular pickleball shot, properly at least 10,000 times to master it. This is worth reiterating—you must hit 10,000 of each of your dinks, drops, drives, volleys, serves, returns, lobs, overheads, etc.—the PROPER way—to master each shot and each skill. This means that you may need to hit a particular shot more than 10,000 times—say 20,000 times—to hit 10,000 proper strokes. So, when you are drilling and practicing, emphasize quality on every shot.
For some pickleball drills tips, check out Pickler's pickleball blog, Pickleball Drills to Improve Your Pickleball Game.
Phun (i.e. Fun)
Pickleball is a game. So, at the end of the day—whether you win or lose—it is important that you are having fun. With that said, if you are out on the courts playing pickleball with your friends, you are already a winner!
Mind your "P's" so that you get the most out of your "Q's," which is your time playing the Quickest growing sport.
WANT MORE PICKLEBALL TIPS AND STRATEGIES?
Plus, if you want more pickleball tips and strategies on every aspect of your pickleball game, check out Pickler’s online video lesson collection called My Pro Pickleball Coach. My Pro Pickleball Coach is a fraction of the price of one clinic or even one lesson, and features over 140 video lessons (over 7 hours of instruction!), as well as a corresponding e-book. These online video lessons are available on demand 24/7 and breakdown every aspect of the sport of pickleball, including pickleball drills, strategy, and advanced concepts, so you will play your best pickleball.