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8 min read

Back to Pickleball Basics: Focus on Fundamentals to Improve Your Pickleball Game 

Strategy & Technique Pickle4 Team 05-29-2024

Pickleball is an ever-evolving sport. With the sport becoming faster and flashy shots making their way onto the court, don’t let yourself be distracted. It’s important to remain focused on the all-important fundamental skills of pickleball. If you are new to pickleball or looking for some quick tips to quickly improve on the pickleball court, here are a few basic pickleball tips to improve your pickleball game:

1. First and foremost, have fun. At its core, pickleball is all about play and having a ton of fun. One of the best parts about the sport of pickleball is meeting new people and being social with the pickleball community. So, embrace your time on the court. Never forget that the most important thing is to enjoy the game and socialize with friends. 

2. Target the middle backhand. The second quick tip is to target two areas on your opponents. The first area to target is down the middle of the court, as this will create confusion, cause your opponents to fight over the pickleball, and you will be less likely to hit the ball out of bounds. A shot down the middle is a high-percentage shot, giving you a higher chance for success. The second area to target is your opponents’ backhands. Pickleball players generally have weaker backhand shots than forehand shots. When you put these two targets together and focus on targeting your opponents’ backhand in the middle of the pickleball court, you can expose the weaknesses of your pickleball opponents.

3. Play to your strengths. If you are good at dinking, make sure to get to the line and engage your opponents in a dink war. If you are good at driving, use your drive and speed up the pickleball and pace of the game. Focus on what you’re good at to elevate your game. With that said, it is also important to be unpredictable on the pickleball court. While the general rule is to play to your strengths (and/or attack the middle of the pickleball court), it is important to mix up your shots and remain unpredictable. Constantly evaluate your strategy on the pickleball court to counter your opponents’ strategy. It is important to evolve during a pickleball match—from game to game, point to point, and even shot to shot. 

4. Serve deep, return deep. A deep serve and deep return of serve will put additional pressure on your opponents. This is because a deep serve will likely cause your opponents to hit a short return, making for an easier third shot for you and your partner. On the other hand, a deep return of serve puts pressure on your opponents by making their third shot more difficult. While a deep serve and a deep return are typically the way to go, make sure you never hit a shot with too small of a margin for error and risk sending your shot out of bounds. Hitting the pickleball out of bounds will cause you to lose the serve or, in the case of a return of serve, will result in a point for your opponents. 

5. Perfect your third shot. As you probably know, the third shot in a rally is the most critical shot in pickleball. Most points are won and lost at the Non-Volley Zone or Kitchen Line. But, you have to be able to get there and your third shot is what will help you accomplish that. Whether you like to drop or drive the third shot, be sure to spend extra time to drill, drill, drill and practice, practice, practice that critical third shot. By perfecting the critical third shot, you will increase your ability to move into the Non-Volley Zone or Kitchen Line and your chances of winning the point will go up dramatically.

6. Diffuse the banger. The sport of pickleball is changing. It is becoming faster and there are more drives than ever. So, how do you defeat the pickleball player that is constantly banging the pickleball at you and your partner? To defeat the banger, try the following strategies:

  • Always Be Ready – Always expect the drive from the banger. If the banger decides to mix it up and dink or drop the pickleball, you will have plenty of time to react. So, be ready and anticipate the drive.
  • Hit a Deep Return of Serve – With bangers, it is particularly important to keep them back toward the baseline with a deep return of serve. This will require the banger to hit a stronger drive, and give you more time to react to the pickleball. Also, consider hitting your return of serve so that the pickleball stays low to the ground. By hitting a return that stays low to the ground, the banger will have to hit up on the pickleball, which may send the banger’s drive out of bounds.
  • Be Wary of Out Balls – After a few drives, the banger will generally drive the pickleball out of bounds. Look for the pickleball that gets about chest high or higher, as the pickleball will likely go out of bounds. Chest high, let it fly!
  • Engage the Soft Game – Most pickleball players have either a strong hard game or a strong soft game, and are not likely strong in both areas. If you are good at dinking, engage the banger in dinking. Engage the soft game to make the banger uncomfortable by exploiting their weakness. 
  • Be a Wall – Be a wall and block the drive. Good blocks require little to no backswing, a loose paddle grip, and quiet hands. If you have a tight grip you will likely hit the pickleball too hard. A tight grip will cause your paddle to act as a stronger backboard for the pickleball to bounce off of. A good block will deaden the pickleball and help you to avoid inadvertently hitting the banger’s drives beyond the baseline and out of bounds.

WANT MORE PICKLEBALL TIPS AND STRATEGIES?

If you want more tips and more in-depth coaching to really take your game to the next level, check out Pickler’s video lesson collection called My Pro Pickleball Coach. My Pro Pickleball Coach is a fraction of the price of one clinic or 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 break down every aspect of the sport of pickleball, including pickleball mechanics, fundamentals, strategy, advanced concepts, and drills, so you will play your best pickleball.

Online Pickleball Video Lessons | Pickler Pickleball

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