Sometimes, even the best of us need to get back to basics. The basics are the foundations for success—even on the pickleball court. Without a strong foundation, there can be weaknesses in your game as you add more advanced shots and strategies to your repertoire.
Next time you hit the pickleball court, ask yourself whether you are perfecting these 5 pickleball basics for success:
- Keep Your Pickleball Paddle Up – It is important to be as efficient as possible on the pickleball court because you do not have much time to react—especially at the Kitchen line during a “firefight” with your opponents. As a result, it is critical to start from the best ready position, so that you eliminate any wasted movement from your starting point to your point of contact with the pickleball. The general goal is to have the greatest coverage of shots (that are staying in the pickleball court) in the least amount of time possible. One important component of the best ready position is your paddle position. Keep your paddle up and ready—instead of down below your waist. Also, stay ready to cover shots to both sides of your body by keeping your paddle face at 10 or 11 o’clock if you imagine that you are standing on a clock face (or 2 or 1 o’clock position if you are a lefty).
- Short Backswings – The goal with your shots on the pickleball court should be to take short backswings. The more you limit your backswing, the faster reaction time you will have, the more consistent your shots will become, and the more you will be able to disguise your shots on the pickleball court. Also, to note, while your follow-through on your shot is important, a big follow-through after your shot is not always necessary. Sometimes, all you need to do is push the pickleball and hold your finish. Without a big follow-through, you will be able to improve your reload time and be ready for the next shot even quicker.
- Be Intentional with the Tip of Your Paddle – Oftentimes, pickleball players will do “too much” with their paddles in an effort to put more “action” on the pickleball. This can lead to inconsistency on the court. Focus on putting the pickleball where you can by being intentional with the tip of your paddle. Push and guide the pickleball in the direction you want it to go with the tip of your paddle (as opposed to focusing on the handle of your paddle). Further, to note, contact should always be out in front of your body and through your point of contact (instead of pulling off of or “short-arming” your contact with the pickleball). And, keep your eye on the ball!
- Use Your Legs – Your legs are generally your strongest muscle group, so it is important to engage your legs on every shot. One key to engaging your legs is weight transfer. For instance, you should be transferring your weight from back-to-front on your groundstrokes. And, transferring to your paddle side when parallel to the Kitchen line on a swing volley. Your legs and lower half are so critical to your pickleball game that many pro players acknowledge that moving your feet is their #1 tip!
- No Free Real Estate – Keep your opponents back. Do not give them any “free real estate” on the pickleball court. The more you can keep your opponents back near the baseline, the tougher you will make their shots, as they will need to hit the pickleball farther in the court. So, hit a deep serve. Hit a deep return. On the fourth shot, push the pickleball deep in the court to the opponent that is near the baseline. And, on each succeeding shot, push the pickleball near your opponents’ feet to make it difficult for them to hit the pickleball out in front of their body or otherwise be aggressive. Challenge yourself with how much “real estate” you can take away from your opponents.
How strong is your pickleball foundation? Even the best work on the basics. Next time you are on the pickleball court, check-in with your pickleball basics.