Tips & Strategy Videos
Pickleball can be a simple game—keep the pickleball over the net and between the lines of the court one more time than your opponents. And, to accomplish this there are some basic fundamentals that are an absolute must on the pickleball court. These pickleball fundamentals include:
1. Move Your Feet & Bend Your Knees – This sounds simple, but it is more difficult and more neglected than you think. Consciously tell yourself to move your feet and bend your knees. You’d be surprised with the difference in your shot execution!
2. Watch the Pickleball & Hit the Pickleball Out in Front – How can you hit the pickleball if you are not watching it? Watch the pickleball hit your paddle and ignore everything else—the opposing players, spectators, your partner, your next shot, etc. And, to help you watch the pickleball, be sure that you are hitting the pickleball out in front of your body.
3. Be in “Pickleball Ready” with Your Pickleball Paddle Up – The game of pickleball can happen so fast. To give yourself the best chance to react to a fast-moving pickleball, your paddle should be up in front of your body. This will cut down on your reaction time, as it is one less thing to do.
Also, always anticipate that the pickleball will come back! Do not let your guard down because you think you hit a good shot. Expect the pickleball to come back.
4. Stay Patient – Patience is so important in the sport of pickleball. Exercising patience as a player on the pickleball court is a skill that too many players do not have. Many times, the player who first speeds up the pickleball will lose the point, as the counterattack by his or her opponents is better than the initial speed up. So, be patient! Only attack attackable pickleballs at or above the top of the pickleball net, rather than unattackable pickleballs below the net.
5. Keep the Pickleball Low (While Still Over the Net) – A low pickleball will prevent your opponents from being able to go on the offensive with an aggressive shot. So, pay attention to your paddle angles and the pace of your shots in order to keep the pickleball low, but above, the pickleball net.
6. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate – You and your partner should communicate during a rally and between shots. For instance, communicating who takes pickleballs that land in the middle, who is running down the lob, and whether or not to let certain shots go by that will be landing out of bounds. And, don’t forget to communicate strategy and some words of encouragement—like “Go partner!”— between points.
7. Let the Out Balls Go – One of the hardest shots in pickleball is the one that you shouldn’t hit—the out balls! Be on the lookout for out balls! Duck and dodge those out balls, so you do not help your opponents stay in the point.
Master these fundamentals and you will be on your way to better pickleball!
Strategy is so important in the game of pickleball, as pickleball is not only a physical game, but also a mental game. Some say pickleball is like chess—easy to play and hard to master. With that said, we will give you some pickleball strategy tips to get you started on the right track for your road to mastery.
1. Consistently Serve Deep, to Backhands & in the Court – The first pickleball strategy tip starts with the first shot of every pickleball rally—the serve. The serve is the one shot in a pickleball rally that you have complete control over (but for, maybe, wind), so it is within your control to have a great shot to start a rally.
When hitting your serve, try to target your opponents’ weaker side, which is usually their backhand side (as most pickleball players have stronger forehand shots than backhand shots), and hit your serve deep into the service box, which will make for a more difficult, longer return for your opponents. However, avoid hitting your serve out of bounds by giving yourself a little margin for error and aiming about two to three feet inside the boundary lines of the court.
2. Return Deep, to Backhands & to the Opponent with a Weaker Third Shot – The second pickleball strategy tip relates to the second shot of every pickleball rally—the return of serve. Like the serve, the return of serve should be deep in your opponents’ side of the pickleball court. And, again, give yourself a margin for error because a missed return is an easy point for your opponents. Consider hitting most returns in the middle of the court to give yourself the most margin for error.
The return of serve should also target not only your opponents’ weaker sides (which is often their backhand sides), but also the player of the opposing team that has a weaker third shot.
3. Get to the Kitchen Line – Most points are won at the Kitchen Line. So, as soon as you oblige by pickleball’s two- bounce rule by letting both the serve and return of serve bounce, you should be trying to make your way to the Kitchen line.
4. Make a Decision on Shot Selection & Commit to It – Where pickleball players often make mistakes is by second guessing themselves or changing their mind on their shot selection. The time to make a decision on a shot and execute that shot is only fractions of a second. As a result, if you change your mind, you will likely make a mistake because you will not give yourself enough time to execute the change. So, make a decision on your shot selection and commit to it!
5. Play to Your Strengths & Your Opponents’ Weaknesses – The basic cornerstone of pickleball strategy is to play to your strengths and your opponents’ weaknesses. For instance, if you have a great drive and power game, while your opponents have a great soft game and dinking game, then drive the pickleball more often and try to speed the pickleball up. Avoid the dink rallies. If you have a great lob and your opponents have a terrible overhead or have poor mobility, then try to lob your opponents. If your opponents have amazing forehand drives, but weak backhand drives, hit to their backhands.
Know your strengths on the pickleball court and use them! Figure out your opponents’ weaknesses and exploit them!
6. Dink Crosscourt (Most of the Time) – One tip for strong dinking is to hit most dinks crosscourt (as opposed to straightforward or in the middle of the pickleball court). This is because a crosscourt dink gives you the most margin for error, as a crosscourt dink will travel over the lowest part of the pickleball net—which is in the middle.
However, not all dinks should be crosscourt. Like any shot, mix it up to stay unpredictable in your pickleball strategy.
7. Over the Pickleball Net, Between the Lines & Mostly Down the Middle – Whether you are playing doubles pickleball or singles pickleball, the key to winning at pickleball is hitting the pickleball over the pickleball net and between the lines of the pickleball court one more time than your opponents. One tip to help accomplish this is to hit most of your shots on the pickleball court down the middle—with the exception of dinks, which most of your dinks should go crosscourt. As the saying goes, “down the middle solves the riddle.” This is usually true because the middle part of the pickleball court provides you with the highest margin of error to keep the pickleball in play. And, if you can target your opponent with his or her backhand in the middle (since backhands are usually weaker for most players)… even better.
With that said, the most important tip is to have fun. Pickleball is America’s fastest growing sport and soon to be America’s favorite pastime for a reason—because it is fun!
Singles pickleball is a very different game than doubles pickleball. In singles pickleball, you are alone on your side of the pickleball court— it is only you versus your opponent. You do not have a partner. This means that you have to rely on yourself—both physically and mentally—to cover the entire court, make every shot, and spot the right strategy on the pickleball court. And, the strategy in singles pickleball is what makes singles pickleball so different than doubles pickleball.
So, what is the strategy in singles pickleball? Whether you are looking to try your first singles pickleball game, or an old pro, these pickleball tips will help you improve your singles pickleball strategy.
1. Consistently Serve Deep in the Pickleball Court – Although a deep serve is an important strategy for doubles pickleball, a big, deep serve is even more important, and absolutely essential, in singles pickleball. You should hit a big, deep serve to push your opponent back beyond the baseline and make for a more difficult longer return for your opponent.
Although a deep serve is the rule of thumb, be sure to avoid hitting your serve out of bounds due to giving yourself too small of a margin for error.
2. Serve Near the “T” on the Pickleball Court – Another singles pickleball strategy tip on the serve is to consider hitting your serve towards the middle of your opponent’s side of the pickleball court, but still within the correct service box. In other words, serve near the “T” on the pickleball court (which is the intersection of the baseline and the centerline on the pickleball court). By serving near the “T” on the court, you will reduce the amount of time that it takes you to prepare for your next shot after the serve and you will also cut down on your opponent’s ability to hit a lot of angles with the return of serve. Although serving near the “T” on the pickleball court is a good rule of thumb, be sure to mix up the placement on your serves.
3. Consistently Hit a Deep Return of Serve – A big, deep return of serve is important in singles pickleball. The return of serve should be deep in your opponent’s side of the pickleball court (in other words, close to the baseline, but within the court). By keeping the pickleball deep in the pickleball court, you will make for a more difficult third shot for your opponent and give yourself more time to react and get in toward the pickleball net.
Also, consider hitting to your opponent’s weaker side— oftentimes, the backhand side—and give yourself enough margin for error.
4. Know What to Do When You Hit a Bad Return of Serve – Now, we know a big, deep return of serve is the preferred singles pickleball strategy. However, what if you hit a bad return of serve? What should you do? You generally have two options:
a. Stay back at the baseline and play defensively to get yourself back in the rally; or
b. Move in, but stop a few feet behind the Non-Volley Zone line in order to prepare for your opponent’s third shot. By moving in, you are playing more aggressive and your goal is to reduce the angles created by your poor return of serve.
The correct decision of these two options may depend on your strengths, your opponent’s strengths, and, maybe, just how bad your return of serve was.
5. Momentum Is More Important than Space – Momentum is oftentimes more important than open court space. Although open space on the pickleball court is definitely a great spot to hit a shot, sometimes your opponent’s momentum is more important than how much court that he or she leaves open. It is very difficult to stop momentum and change directions. As a result, consider where your opponent’s momentum is taking him/her and hit shots in the opposite direction that your opponent’s momentum is taking him/her.
6. Track Your Shot on the Pickleball Court – After you hit your shot, follow the flight path of your shot. By following the flight of the pickleball, you will be between your opponent and your side of the pickleball court that is closest to your opponent. In other words, you will be standing in the middle of the shortest distance between your opponent and your side of the pickleball court. This is important because this forces your opponent to hit the pickleball either (a) to the side of the pickleball court that you are already covering, or (b) crosscourt, which is a much more difficult shot for your opponent. So, follow the flight of the pickleball and track your shot to put pressure on your opponent!
7. Come In to the Kitchen Line! – One common theme between doubles pickleball and singles pickleball is that the overwhelming majority of points are won at the Non-Volley Zone line. As a result, it is important to move in and get to the Non-Volley Zone line. This is especially true in singles pickleball because, by coming in to the Kitchen line, you are able to cut off your opponent’s angles on the pickleball court.
To note, with this pickleball strategy tip, you may get burned a time or two—meaning that your opponent may win a few rallies with a good passing shot. However, the overwhelming majority of points are won at the Kitchen line, so it is important to put yourself in a position to win by moving in to the Kitchen line.
8. Let Your Opponent Make the Mistake –Sometimes pickleball players—especially singles pickleball players—go for “too much.” In other words, they try to hit winning shots.
One strategy in singles pickleball is to put pressure on your opponent and allow your opponent to make the mistakes. Force your opponent to make a bad shot by going for a “winner,” rather than making those mistakes yourself.
9. Up Your Cardio! – Singles pickleball is a one-yard sprint to each shot, as you are the only one on your side of the pickleball court. Sometimes, the player that wins in singles pickleball is simply the player that can last the longest on the pickleball court! You do not want to lose a singles pickleball game just because you are too tired to carry on. Be sure to work on your cardio and endurance off the court, so you can play better pickleball on the court.
Although singles pickleball is less common than doubles pickleball, it is just as loved. And, with these strategy tips, you will be on your way to love it even more.