1. When you are learning to play pickleball, never avoid hitting your backhand ground strokes or volleys. If you avoid hitting your backhand you will never master the stroke.
2. When playing during a windy day keep track of the wind speed and direction constantly because it does change at times. If you play the wind properly then it will build confidence in yourself, in that, the wind is bothering your opponent more than yourself.
3. When you are feeling a little tight during a match, don’t hit tentatively or too slow. Hit at your normal steady pace, but give yourself more leeway to hit your target until your confidence returns.
4. Make a mental book on your own attributes and deficits. Only hit shots that you feel are a high percentage for your own ability. Know what shots you can make more than 50% of the time. Do what you do well and practice the things that you don’t do well then use them when you can make them 50% of the time.
5. Bounce up onto the balls of your feet, in the ready position, at the point of contact of the ball on your opponents paddle. A moving body reacts quicker than a stationary body.
6. If both backhands of your opponents are at the middle of the court, hit down the middle of the court.
7. If your shot makes your opponent take two steps or more your chance for winning the point increases immensely.
8. Don’t back up to play a dink off the bounce, when you can hit the ball in the air. Always try and hit the ball with your weight going towards the net.
9. Make contact with the ball at the highest possible point in the air when volleying and waist high on the bounce for your ground stroke. It will be a higher percentage shot and open up more angles with less chance of putting balls into the net.
Play Steady: The team with the most unforced errors loses. Not the team with the fewest winners.
Placement is more important than power.
Keep the ball as low as possible for every hit, unless you must make a defensive lob.
Place the ball at the opponent’s feet or bounce the ball right beside your opponent. He must hit the ball up, which quickly puts him on the defensive and you on the offensive. The team which must hit the ball up most of the time will lose. Keep the ball at your opponent’s feet no matter where he is on the court.
Only hit the ball as hard as you can control the placement. Do not sacrifice placement for power. Hit ¾ winners unless you get a put away shot for a full power winner.
When an opponent is planted at the net and you can’t make a shot at his feet, the next best place to hit it is at the right hip pocket of a right-handed player. This is a very difficult shot to return.
Patience is a virtue in pickleball
Do not try to win the point from the baseline. Just hit the ball softly and bounce the ball in the no volley zone and follow it to net.
Pick a good time to move forward, not when your opponent has an easy shot. Every second that you are playing, your goal should be to get to the net on a minimum of one step forward and split step at every touch of the ball by your opponent. Split step is when both feet are side by side and shoulder width apart.
The team that plays from the baseline exposes their feet to their opponents and will lose to a team as good as or better than they are.
If your partner is drawn out of the court on his side, you must move over to protect his area until he can get back into the court. If you think that you are playing an intelligent opponent, then give a head and shoulder fake, giving the impression that you are moving to cover for your partner. Don’t move from your position, however, and your opponent will probably put the ball on your paddle.
If you feel an opponent is anticipating your shot by watching the face of your paddle and moving before you make contact, then have your paddle face straight ahead and then at the last second, go cross court before your opponent has time to react. Do not have your paddle “read” cross court then try and surprise your opponent and go down line because paddle must be brought back first and the extra time it takes gives your opponent more time to react to your fake.
If you are playing a former racquet ball player (who very quickly flicks his paddle at the ball), you must prepare your ready position even earlier or you will be late punching your volleys or ground strokes.
Give your partner a second opinion on whether a ball is in or out. Do it early enough to give him time to back away from it.
Every once in a while, change the spin and speed of all your shots. The element of surprise will pay dividends.
Sometimes the best shot is no shot at all. When playing with a much better partner than yourself, let your partner take as many shots as he possible can, especially if he yells, “I have it.” Chances are good you are probably going to get the lion’s share of all the hits anyway. So the more your partner touches the ball, the better chance you will win.
There should be only positive communication between you and your partner. “Good try” “I have it” “Switch” “Yours” and “Bounce it” are as examples. Never say anything negative to your partner if he isn’t doing well because it will just make things worse. It shows you are not a confident player, and you are looking for an excuse to lose.
The second to last shot before the end of a point by you or your partner usually decides if your team either wins or loses the point. If you do not keep your shot low enough or placed well enough and your opponent slams a shot at your partner and he misses, the shot, then the point was lost by you. Sometimes the point could have been lost by the third or fourth to last shot because the team never could recover from being put on the defensive earlier in the point.
Keep a book in your mind about the people that you play regularly. Know what they are good at and also know their weaknesses. Many players always make certain shots in particular situations, and if you can anticipate these shots, you will have an edge. For example, some players, when running in for a ball that bounces near the post in the no volley zone, always try a cross court topspin shot to the other post.
When your team is a heavy favorite, play a whole game without being interested about winning and concentrate on just placing every single ball at your opponent’s feet or beside them. Practice not going for winners and being patient. No matter where your opponents are on the court, go for their feet. It is a safe shot, and it will steady your game and pay dividends.
On a cross court volley make contact a little farther out in front of you.
All strokes taken with your pickleball paddle are technically the same as all the tennis strokes with one exception, the serve. The only differences between the two are the feel of the ball on the paddle and the distance from your hand to the contact point of the ball on the paddle. .A person wanting to improve his pickleball strokes should read tennis books and magazines and become a student of the game.
Determine if your opponents are left-handed before the start of the game so that you won’t be hitting to their strength.
Before starting each game, let your partner know that you don’t mind his overruling any call you make as long as he is 100% sure you were wrong. If one person on a team feels a ball was in and the other doesn’t, then the point goes to the other team. If your feelings about the score or whether the ball is in or out are different from the other three players on the court, then right or wrong, you should concede.
Never yell anything that may help your opponent. Think of the shot that you just hit that was wrong. Don’t yell because your opponent may hit your out ball if you do not bring his attention to that possibility that it may go out.
Learn all the proper tennis stroking techniques to help improve your pickle ball game.
If two players with the same natural ability play pickle ball any and one uses the proper tennis technique, that player will be a steadier and better player.
If both players are self taught players then the one with the most athletic sense and ability will be the better player. Learn proper technique. It will give you an edge over your opponent.
A player should try not to have any bad out bursts after missing their shots. This type of reaction builds confidence in your opponents. Your partner will also lose confidence in you.
When two right hand players are playing together, the player facing the net on the left, who has his forehand to the middle of the court, takes the balls on his side of the court plus about 8 to 12 inches toward the center line.
When two left hand players are playing together, the player with his forehand toward the center of the court should take any ball on his side of the court plus any ball 8 to 12 inches to the left of center court.
When a right handed and a left handed player are playing together and both players backhands are to the middle of the court, the player facing the net on the on the left side should be considered the fore hand and cover his side plus 8 to 12 inches to the right of center court unless both players agree the other player has the stronger backhand.
If you like to hit with power and if your opponents cannot recognize when a ball is going out and they hit every ball that they can get their paddles on, then it is to your advantage to have the heavy wind at your back.
When your opponents stop hitting you the ball intentionally every time you play, it means your partners are very weak or you have become a very good player. Feel good about it.
There is no right or wrong way to play Pickleball. You should do things that work for you. Some advanced players have their unconventional ways of playing Pickleball and because they have exceptional athletic ability, they are successful more than 50% of the time. Beginners with average ability would be more successful if they used conventional tennis strokes and strategy before they pick up bad habits and are not able to change.
A player should not be one dimensional; they should try to develop a complete game of hitting with placement as well as power. Develop a good lob and drop volley as well a good soft game. A player will not be predictable if he is able to have a variety in his Pickleball game.
If your partner is a much weaker player than you are and your opponents are hitting as many balls as possible to him, then a soft dink into the no volley zone is not to your advantage because it gives your opponent more time to hit another ball to your partner.
After hitting the ball toward your opponent follow the same line that the ball is traveling when advancing toward the no volley line. This will give you a good angle and position for your opponents return shot.
If your team should hit the ball close to the opponent’s right sideline and the ball will be a volley or ground stroke then you and your partner should divide the court into 3 equal thirds when you are waiting at the NVZ line for the return. The player on the right side of the court protects his sideline and the right 1/3 of the court. The other player protects the middle third of the court and you leave the far left third of the court open. A crosscourt shot is a low percentage, it’s a sharp angle and the ball must have a lot of top spin. Most players cannot make this shot consistently so protect down the line and you will win much more points than you lose.
The better you get at Pickleball the less balls will be hit to you so it becomes harder to win. The thing to do to try and get your opponents to hit more balls to you only if your partner is weaker than your opponents and is interested in winning:
A. Fake like you are going to poach but hold your spot and they will hit you the ball by mistake.
B. Really poach occasionally to get into the point but tell your partner before you do so he or she will be ready to switch sides and coer for you. This will make your fakes more believable.
When you get a ball you must make hay when the sun shines and hit with a little more pace than you normally do and hope for the best.