The sport of pickleball is most commonly played as a doubles game. However, pickleball can also be played as a singles game. The two games—doubles pickleball and singles pickleball—are very different, as, in singles pickleball, you are alone on your side of the pickleball court and have to rely on yourself to cover the entire court, make every shot, and spot the right strategy.
One common question when it comes to singles pickleball is whether playing singles will help a player’s doubles game. The short answer is a resounding yes. This pickleball blog will break down the reasons why playing singles will help your doubles pickleball game.
Improve the Major Components of Your Doubles Pickleball Game
In singles pickleball, the basics of doubles pickleball apply, which include (1) a deep, strong serve, (2) a deep, strong return of serve, and (3) a quality third shot. In fact, the serve and the return of serve become even more important to success on the pickleball court. As a result, singles pickleball is an opportunity to work on, improve, perfect, and make even stronger or more aggressive each of the serve and return of serve. It also is an opportunity to improve and work on the third shot, which could be a passing shot, rolling shot, or drop shot. Further, since you are the only player on your side of the pickleball court, you have more opportunities to work on these shots.
Get Aggressive on Your Shots
With more of the pickleball court to cover, it is important to put pressure on your opponents and take advantage of the entire court space. Otherwise, your opponent will likely do the same to you. With that said, it is more important in singles pickleball (as opposed to doubles pickleball) to hit penetrating, aggressive shots. Singles pickleball gives the opportunity to practice being aggressive on the pickleball court.
Master the Baseline Game
At times, singles pickleball can be a baseline game, meaning that you hit multiple shots from the baseline. Singles pickleball forces you to get comfortable with playing from the baseline and being aggressive from the baseline.
It is important to note that, in singles pickleball, like doubles pickleball, it is generally important to move in and get to the Non-Volley Zone line. This is because, by coming in to the Kitchen line, you are able to cut off your opponent’s angles on the pickleball court. This is difficult to execute at times, as you can get stuck at the baseline hitting groundstroke after groundstroke and, generally speaking, 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.
Practice Your Footwork and Transition Game
Singles pickleball provides plenty of opportunities to work on your footwork and transition game, as you are responsible for covering the entire half of the pickleball court—sideline to sideline, baseline to the net. Quick and efficient footwork is essential in order to cover as much of the pickleball court as possible.
And, as noted above, singles pickleball requires you to work on transitioning to the Non-Volley Zone line (and, even further, you will have an additional element of pressure when transitioning because you have to cover the entire side of the pickleball court, rather than only one side).
Improve Your Endurance on the Pickleball Court
It probably goes without saying, but singles pickleball can really be taxing on your body and challenging for your endurance. Singles pickleball requires you to cover your entire side of the pickleball court. Plus, singles pickleball requires quick, one-yard sprints to each shot. As a result, by playing singles pickleball, you will quickly improve your stamina and endurance on the pickleball court for doubles.
Get Out of Your Comfort Zone and Get Stronger Mentally
If you are a doubles pickleball player (especially one that is not, or was not, a tennis player), then singles pickleball can be daunting. You are responsible for every shot, which includes a lot of big, aggressive groundstrokes. You have no partner to rely on. You also have to push yourself to understand, strategize, and execute on a very different game (as singles pickleball is very different than doubles pickleball).
With that said, what may be the most challenging in singles pickleball is relying on yourself from a mental perspective. If you lose a few consecutive points, it is easy to quickly spiral down and feel like you are on an island. In other words, it is easy to get down on yourself and let one mistake turn into ten mistakes, as you do not have a partner to help relieve pressure and keep you mentally engaged and positive.
So, by playing singles pickleball, you have an opportunity to push yourself out of your comfort zone, as well as develop your mental capacity on the pickleball court. These skills on learning how to carry yourself through hard times will make you a stronger doubles pickleball player, as well as a better partner on the court.
Practice Strategy and Improve Shot Selection
Although singles pickleball is very different than doubles pickleball, some on-court strategies are the same. For instance, quickly analyzing and identifying your opponents’ weaknesses is imperative. Shot selection within fractions of a second is also imperative. These are skills that are transferable from singles pickleball to doubles pickleball, and vice versa. By playing singles pickleball, you can practice these strategy skills and shot-selection skills on every shot.
In summary, singles pickleball certainly will help improve your doubles pickleball game. If have never played singles pickleball, you can learn the straightforward singles pickleball rules here, as well as some key singles pickleball strategy tips here. Whether you are first-timer or a singles pro, get out there on the pickleball courts and play some singles pickleball… you may be surprised at how much it helps your doubles game.