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15 Pickleball Tips I Wish I’d Known Sooner

When I first grabbed a paddle, I jumped into pickleball with enthusiasm but little direction, learning mostly through trial and error. Along the way, I’ve picked up some invaluable insights from experienced players that have significantly improved my game.

Whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned player, I want to share some of these tips with you.

15. Master the Split Step

Incorporating a proper split step at the start of each rally keeps you nimble and ready to move in any direction, enhancing your ability to quickly respond to your opponent’s shots.

14. Serve Deep

A deep serve forces your opponent to return the ball from a less advantageous position, setting you up for a stronger play. It’s not about power; it’s about placement.

13. Strategic Service Returns

Focus on placing your service returns deep into your opponent’s court. A deeper return can disrupt their positioning and give you more time to approach the net.

12. Avoid Net Errors on Drop Shots

When playing drop shots, it’s better to be a little high than too low. A shot that’s too low gifts the point away by hitting the net, while a slightly higher shot still keeps you in play.

11. Drill to Build Skills

Regular drilling focuses on specific skills, helping you develop muscle memory and improve faster than game play alone.

10. Consistency in Serving

Consistent serves are more effective than powerful ones. Ensuring your serve is in play every time builds pressure and reduces your own unforced errors.

9. Patience in Play Strategy

Embrace a patient approach to the game. Waiting for the right moment to strike and letting your opponent make mistakes can often lead to more wins than a purely aggressive style.

8. Moderate Your Power

When hitting powerful shots, keep your effort at about 80%. This helps maintain control and reduces the chance of errors, keeping more balls in play.

7. High-Percentage Shot Selection

Choosing shots that have a high success rate is crucial. Avoid tricky shots that could lead to easy points for your opponents and focus on keeping the ball in challenging areas for them to return.

6. Effective Middle Coverage

Adjust your position based on your and your opponent’s tendencies. Sometimes, one player might take up to 75% of the court based on the play direction, optimizing both defense and attack.

5. Proactive Net Play

Taking dinks out of the air at the net keeps you from being pushed back and helps maintain an aggressive position in the kitchen, allowing for quicker volleys and less time for your opponent to react.

4. Reduce Backswing

Limiting your backswing helps maintain control over your shots and improves your reaction time. This is especially useful in fast-paced exchanges at the net.

3. Practice Visualization

Work on mental drills like visualization and positive self-talk to boost your confidence and focus during crucial points.

2. Refine the Reset Shot

Refining the reset shot is key to turning defensive plays into offensive opportunities. It helps stabilize your game when under pressure, allowing you to reset the point’s rhythm.

1. Master the Art of the ‘Third Shot Drive’

While everyone focuses on perfecting the third shot drop, perfecting the third shot drive can catch opponents off guard and add a powerful dimension to your game. It’s less expected than a drop, but when executed well, it can be just as effective at gaining the upper hand in a rally.

Your Game, Your Strategy

As we wrap up this treasure trove of tips, it’s important to remember that not every piece of advice will be the golden ticket for every player. We all have our unique styles, strengths, and areas of growth on the pickleball court. Some tips might resonate with you immediately, completely transforming the way you approach each game, while others might not quite fit the way you play.

When I started playing, I tried to soak up every tip I could get my hands on, but it was the unexpected ones that often had the biggest impact (like limiting my backswing!), changing my game in ways I never anticipated.

FAQ

Q. Why is the split step important in pickleball?

The split step is crucial because it keeps you nimble and ready to move in any direction, enhancing your ability to quickly respond to your opponent’s shots.

Q. How can I improve my service returns?

Focus on placing your service returns deep into your opponent’s court. A deeper return can disrupt their positioning and give you more time to approach the net.

Q. What is the best way to avoid net errors on drop shots?

When playing drop shots, it’s better to be a little high than too low. A shot that’s too low gifts the point away by hitting the net, while a slightly higher shot still keeps you in play.

Q. How can drilling improve my pickleball skills?

Regular drilling focuses on specific skills, helping you develop muscle memory and improve faster than game play alone.

Q. What is the benefit of mastering the third shot drive?

Perfecting the third shot drive can catch opponents off guard and add a powerful dimension to your game. It’s less expected than a drop, but when executed well, it can be just as effective at gaining the upper hand in a rally.

What do you think?

Written by Billy Pickles

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