Pickleball is a game, so there are winners and losers. And, eventually, we all do it… we all lose on the pickleball court. While we try to avoid losing on the pickleball court, we cannot always win and come out on top.
What do you do if you are losing on the pickleball court? Is there anything that you can do during the game to help salvage a win? If you find yourself on the verge of losing a pickleball game, try these 7 tips to help turn the game around and grab a win:
1. Play Your Game Aggressively
Oftentimes, pickleball players will find themselves behind in pickleball games because they are playing conservatively or tight. They are worried about making a mistake, rather than going for their shots and playing freely. This is a recipe for failure on the pickleball court. To change this, aggressively play your game. This does not mean that you have to change your style of play and “bang” or drive your way through every point. However, this does mean that you should aggressively play your style of play and put pressure on your opponents when you can. Play loose, play free, and play your game.
2. Play to the High Percentages
Another common reason for losing on the pickleball court is that pickleball players go for “too much.” They go for what could be an impressive winning shot, but it has very little chance of success. If you find yourself going for too many of these risky shots, you may find yourself on the losing end of pickleball games.
To help change this, improve your shot selection and reduce your unforced errors by playing “high percentage pickleball.” High percentage pickleball is about hitting shots that give you the highest percentage of success and the lowest chance of making an unforced error. For instance, avoid attacking pickleballs that sit below the top of the pickleball net, and avoid going for shots that give you a slim margin for error (such as a shot an inch inside the sideline). Rather, wait for an attackable ball, and go for shots that give you more room for error (such as a shot a few feet inside the sideline).
It is important to note that high percentage pickleball does not mean highly predictable pickleball. It is important to remain unpredictable on the pickleball court. Rather, high percentage pickleball is about playing the percentages, which will still allow you to remain unpredictable.
3. Get All of Your Serves and Returns In
Missed serves are missed opportunities. You cannot score on the pickleball court unless you get your serve in. So, it is important to zone in on your serve and keep your serves in the correct service box.
Also, to note, while a good serve can give you an edge on the pickleball court, a good serve usually does not, in and of itself, win you a point. So, if you are pushing yourself to be aggressive on your serve, be conscious of the risk-reward ratio. Are you winning points because of your aggressive serve, or are you losing opportunities because you are hitting your serve out of bounds? If the latter, then it may be time to dial back your serve and make sure your serves are in the court.
When it comes to returns of serve, if you miss your return, then you give your opponents a point. As a result, missed returns are even more painful than a missed serve. If you find yourself behind in a pickleball game, ask yourself how many returns you and your partner have missed? If the answer is more than 0, then you know what you need to do… keep those returns in the pickleball court.
4. Get to the Kitchen Line
It is no secret… most points in pickleball are won at the Kitchen line. So, it is imperative that you make your way to the Kitchen line as soon as possible. From there, you can try to keep your opponents back and/or try to construct a point by dinking, moving your opponents around, and speeding up or attacking your opponents when the opportunity presents itself.
Many times, if you are behind in a game, you and your partner may not be getting to the Kitchen line. Your opponents may be keeping you back near the baseline or, even after you reached the Kitchen line, pushing you back into the dreaded transition area. To combat this, be sure to get to that Kitchen line and hold that line. And, if you have to take a step back to handle a good shot from your opponents, be sure to get back in. Whoever dominates the Kitchen line, will likely win the game.
5. Change Your Strategy
As the saying goes, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. If you are losing points, and you keep making the same shots with the same strategy, then you will continue to lose points. Something needs to change, and that something is your strategy.
Strategy is so important to the sport of pickleball. Your strategy needs to reflect your style of play, your partner’s style of play, and your opponents’ style of play. You need to play to your strengths, while also targeting your opponents’ weaknesses.
If you find yourself losing a pickleball game, ask yourself what is working and what is not working? What can you do differently to achieve a different result? Should you be targeting one opponent over the other? Should you try slowing the game down with more dinks and resets? Should you be speeding the game up? Should you be targeting backhands or forehands? Should you try drives at one opponent and dinks at the other? Regardless of your skill level, what can really set you apart on the pickleball court is your ability to strategize quickly and correctly, and then execute on that strategy.
6. Take a Time-Out
Momentum is a powerful component in pickleball. Momentum can result in large point swings on the pickleball court. One of the best ways to stop your opponents’ momentum in a competitive pickleball game is to call a time-out.
In competitive play (as opposed to recreational play), you typically have time-outs. Time-outs are a “use it or lose it” proposition, so they are important to use when necessary. A good rule of thumb is to call a time-out if your opponents have scored three points in a row. A time-out will give you and your partner the opportunity to think and re-focus. Also, consider strategizing with your support team during time-outs. Your support team could add a fresh perspective to your strategy if you need it.
7. Be a Good Partner
This one may be the most important… be a good partner. If you find yourself behind in a pickleball game, build your partner up. Most players play better in response to positivity (rather than negativity). If you are negative toward your partner—rude comments or lots of eye rolls—then you will likely only lose faster. Build your partner up and keep him or her motivated for a comeback.
Also, how you act when you are losing speaks more volumes about your character than when you are winning. Lose with grace (and win with grace). Be kind to your partner, your opponents, and yourself.
At times, we all find ourselves behind in a pickleball game—whether 10-0 or 10-9. Regardless of the score, mount a comeback and grab more wins by incorporating these 7 tips before your opponents reach 11 points.
WANT MORE PICKLEBALL TIPS AND STRATEGIES?
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