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Advanced Pickleball Techniques: Insights from a 5+ Pro Player

If you’re as dedicated to enhancing your pickleball prowess as I am, you’ll appreciate that every nuanced tip and technique can significantly elevate your game. Recently, I had the privilege of observing a seasoned pro player, whose insights have been instrumental in refining my skills.

In this article, I’ll share some valuable strategies on returns, drops, and drives, enriched with feedback from our dynamic pickleball community.

Mastering Pickleball Returns

Initially, I was making a critical error in my returns by “running” into the ball instead of correctly “loading and transferring” my weight. This might seem like a minor adjustment, but it has revolutionized my game!

Rather than approaching the ball with a jog-like lunge, I’ve learned to load my weight onto my right foot just before making contact, then seamlessly transfer my weight forward. This technique has resulted in more consistent and powerful returns. While this movement appears simple when observed in professional play, perfecting the timing of this weight shift is crucial for effective execution.

Community Reactions: Fine-Tuning the Return Technique

A fellow player remarked, “Just to clarify your advice on returns, the foot you load on depends on whether you’re hitting a forehand or a backhand, right?”

Absolutely, and it’s these subtleties that make all the difference.

Enhancing Drop Shots

Drops were always a bit of a challenge for me; they felt awkward. Then I discovered a game-changing tip: hit the ball “in front and inside” my body. Imagine tossing a bean bag—that’s how I approach my drop shots now. This small adjustment not only made my shots look smoother but also significantly increased their effectiveness.

Additionally, adding a slight curve to the paddle while keeping my wrist steady introduced some nice top/side spin, making the ball dip precisely where I intended. Total game changer!

To practice this technique, try a unique drill using a bean bag. Place the bean bag on your paddle and practice moving it back and forth to get used to pushing without relying on wrist action.

Community Success Stories: Improved Drops and Returns

“I tried the return and drop techniques today and noticed a significant improvement—my returns were consistently deeper, and the drops were much easier!” shared a community member, highlighting the practical benefits of these adjustments.

Driving with Precision: Mastering the Closed Stance

I learned about using a closed stance for drives, which involves coiling around the ball to maximize the transfer of energy into the shot—it’s quite impressive to see in action! Initially, this stance felt a bit awkward for me, often resulting in jammed shots and not quite achieving the power I wanted.

But as I better understood the importance of proper positioning and how to effectively coil my body, it really started to click. Understanding how to use my body to fuel the shot has been a game-changer.

Community Insights: The Power of the Closed Stance

One enthusiast explained the benefits of mastering this technique: “Using a closed stance to drive the ball makes it really tricky for opponents to predict whether I’ll go for an ‘inside-out’ shot across the court or drive it straight down the sideline.”

Learning from the Pros: A Step-by-Step Approach

Learning from pros isn’t just about watching them play; it’s about deeply studying their game to understand the nuances that make them exceptional. When you’re watching, pay close attention to how they position themselves on the court, how they handle different shots, and what strategies they employ in various situations.

For instance, you might notice a pro’s footwork during a volley or how they adjust their paddle angle for a tricky drop shot.

Step-by-Step Approach to Learning from Pros

  • Choose One Skill to Focus On: Instead of trying to capture everything a pro does, zero in on one specific skill during a match. It could be something as simple as their serving technique or how they execute a particular shot you struggle with.
  • Take Notes: Yes, really! Jot down what stands out about their technique—how they move, the timing of their shots, their court positioning. These notes can be a great reference when you practice.
  • Practice One Thing at a Time: Take that one skill you focused on and work it into your practice sessions. For example, if you’ve been watching how a pro serves, spend a week or two just improving your serve, mimicking the mechanics you observed.
  • Use Video Feedback: Record your own practice sessions. Compare your videos with clips of the pros. This side-by-side analysis can be incredibly eye-opening and is a great way to monitor your progress.
  • Expand Gradually: Once you feel you’ve improved in one area, add another element to your practice sessions. Gradually building your skills this way keeps you from feeling overwhelmed and helps solidify the improvements you’re making.
  • Seek Feedback: Share what you’ve learned and practiced with a coach or a more experienced player. They can offer additional insights and help refine your technique.

What We Can Learn from Watching Pros

The key takeaway is to approach your development with a proactive and observant mindset. Learning from the pros doesn’t just involve mimicking their moves; it’s about absorbing the underlying principles that govern their play. It’s watching their positioning, understanding their decision-making, and applying similar discipline to your practice routines.

Above all, be patient and persistent. Mastery is a gradual process, and every bit of effort you put in brings you one step closer to your goals.

So, keep your enthusiasm for improvement alive. Use each session on the court to refine a skill, each game to test a new strategy, and each tournament to gauge your development.


Improving your pickleball game involves a combination of learning from seasoned players, practicing diligently, and being observant of the finer details.

By mastering weight transfer in returns, refining your drop shots, and adopting a closed stance for drives, you can elevate your performance on the court. Remember to approach your development with patience and persistence, and use each opportunity to refine your skills and strategies. 


Q. What is the importance of weight transfer in pickleball returns?

Weight transfer is crucial in pickleball returns as it helps generate power and consistency. By properly loading and transferring your weight, you can achieve more forceful and accurate returns.

Q. How can I improve my drop shots?

To improve your drop shots, focus on hitting the ball “in front and inside” your body. Practice using a bean bag on your paddle to get accustomed to pushing without relying on wrist action. Adding a slight curve to the paddle can also introduce top/side spin for more effective drops.

Q. What is a closed stance in pickleball drives?

A closed stance in pickleball drives involves coiling around the ball to maximize energy transfer into the shot. This stance can make it difficult for opponents to predict your shot direction, adding an element of surprise to your game.

Q. How can I effectively learn from professional pickleball players?

To effectively learn from pros, focus on one specific skill at a time, take detailed notes, practice the skill in your sessions, use video feedback to compare your technique, expand your skills gradually, and seek feedback from experienced players or coaches.

Q. Why is it important to focus on one skill at a time when learning from pros?

Focusing on one skill at a time prevents you from feeling overwhelmed and helps solidify improvements. By gradually building your skills, you can ensure that each new technique is well-practiced and integrated into your game.

What do you think?

Written by Billy Pickles

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