25 Pickleball Tips to Improve Your Game

It is no surprise that pickleball, at first sight, may be a bit difficult to some. We believe that anyone can learn how to really get the hang of the sport. There are so many pickleball tips we can tell you about in great detail to help you improve. Becoming a great pickleball player means more than just practicing all your shots, as there are little habits that you can use on and off the ball to truly become an excellent player.

Here are our 25 pickleball tips for you to improve your pickleball game.

Move in Sync With Your Teammate

To help minimize this risk of leaving too much space unprotected, always keep a constant distance away from your teammate while also moving and stopping in whichever direction they shift. For example, if your teammate decides to move exactly six steps up the court, walk exactly six steps as well as they are doing this.

To truly immerse yourself in the habit of walking in sync with your teammate, practice it before games by walking and then running to areas such as the net and kitchen and back to the baseline repeatedly. The pattern caused by continually doing this exercise will help you be more alert in getting the ball.

Maintain Communication With Your Teammate

Teamwork is always important when playing pickleball, and therefore you must keep communicating with your teammate to avoid confusion that can lead to errors. Be sure to communicate both verbally and through gestures, especially when deciding who takes a shot, whether the ball is in or out of play for your teammate, and other key moments.

When Dinking, Try to Do so With a Volley

Dinking the ball is essential to the gameplay of pickleball.  Therefore, when you are receiving the ball and intend to dink it to your opponent, always hit the ball before it bounces inside the kitchen.

Repeating this technique is helpful because you will give your opponents less time to prepare a shot. Keeping your gameplay at a consistent rate will save you time from having to think about how to dink the ball and take away time from your opponent to prepare for their next move.

To see an example, click here.

Dink a Bouncing Ball as it Goes Up.

There will come a time where it will be impossible to dink a ball before it bounces. Should you find yourself in this situation, you should follow these two steps:

  1. Take as close a step near the bouncing ball as possible.
  2. After the ball bounces, be sure to take the dink as the ball remains in its ascending motion.

By following this step, you can easily set a faster pace for the game while also giving your opponent less time to prepare for their next shot.

To see an example of how to dink the ball in an upward motion, click here.

Move Your Dink Around

Dinking the ball is more than just a basic shot in the game of pickleball. You can strategically use it to your advantage by dinking the ball in different directions as the game goes on. By dinking the ball towards multiple directions, you can increase your chances of one of the following things:

  • The opponent hits a pop up shot, giving you an easy chance to score on your opponent.
  • The opponent is less prepared to hit a powerful shot.

While Serving, Use Your Entire Body Strength

When you find yourself serving the ball, use your entire body, including your arms, legs, and core, to do so. By serving in this method, you can effectively maximize your potential at serving the ball properly, especially when you learn different kinds of serves.

Notice how in this video, the man slightly moves his legs and upper body while serving. He does not use his full strength but instead uses his upper body and legs to support his strength in the serve to ensure that the ball crosses over the net.

Be Sure That You are Serving in a Loose and Smooth Motion

Instead of serving the ball while holding the racquet tightly and swinging fastly, you should instead try to hold the racquet loosely and swing smoothly. This provides a more consistent and reliable serving technique.

To learn more on how to perfect serving in a loose and smooth motion, click here.

Notice the minimal amount of tension the instructor has as he holds the racquet, as he purposefully does not have a strong grip on the racquet.

Practice Your Stances While Serving

While it may initially seem ideal to serve the ball in an open stance, which is a stance where you are facing the net, you should also practice a closed stance or a semi-open stance. A closed stance is when your shoulders are facing parallel to the net, while a semi-open stance is when you are positioned between the open and closed stance, essentially facing the court at a diagonal point of view.

Use The Serve To Your Absolute Advantage

Though you cannot score on a serve, you can still use it to your advantage. If your playing style is very fast-paced and you wish to start on your offensive game immediately, then serve the ball in the deeper end of your opponent’s half. By doing this, you can immediately put your opponent under pressure, increasing the chance of them committing an error.

Be Aware of Your Stance While Playing the Game As Well

At any moment during a pickleball game, you must be ready for a sudden change in pace, as an attack can come up at any time after a serve. To help keep yourself always prepared for the game to intensify, we recommend that no matter which direction you face or where you are on the court, that you are doing the following at all times:

  • Hold your paddle out in a parallel direction to your body with your hand pointing towards the left.
  • Always bend your knees but keep your back straight at the same time.

This video shows how to properly stand in position depending on the shot you are about to take during gameplay compared to when you serve the ball. Notice how the footwork and the body language changes once the game is in full swing.

Drop The Ball While Serving, Not Throw

Another way to serve the ball effectively and consistently is to drop the ball, instead of throwing it up in the air. Throwing the ball up and then serving the ball can easily lead to inconsistent serving, as your serve may be either too strong or too weak. Be sure to drop the ball at waist level right before you perform your serve.

Defend Tough Shots By Properly Positioning your Paddle

If at any moment during a match, you or your teammate hit a pop-up ball, prepare for the tough shot by following these steps:

  1. Do not move from the spot you are standing.
  2. Drop your paddle down quickly near the area that the ball will bounce.

By doing this, you set yourself up for organized defense against a shot that would otherwise lead to the opponent scoring.

When Anticipating a Tougher Shot, Take a Step Back

Because pop-up shots take slightly longer to land than other shots and usually lead to stronger and more powerful shots, it is best to prepare for these shots by taking one or two steps back. By doing this, you allow more room for yourself to defend against the shot properly. 

To do this effectively, be sure to properly be in your stance before the shot arrives at you, and not in motion. If you are in motion, it will be tougher for you to handle the shot properly.

Master the Lob, But Do Not Overuse It

Both the offensive and defensive lobs require much practice to master, but they are worth your time and effort. 

The offensive lob occurs when you take an overhead shot against opponents that are anticipating a closer shot. Be sure that all players (including yourself) are in the kitchen when taking an offensive lob. If performed successfully, opponents will have trouble playing offensively, giving you a temporary advantage.

The defensive lob should be performed when opponents are not positioned in the kitchen. It is not used as often as the offensive lob, as its primary goal is to give you and your teammate enough time to get back into the proper position.

Therefore, while we do not recommend you to frequently use the lob as it is a lower percentage shot, we recommend that you master the lob to help you properly keep the game on either a balanced level or to your advantage.

Defend Yourself Against the Offensive Lob

While being a rare type of shot, the offensive lob usually catches players off guard with little to no time to adjust to the situation. To prepare yourself against an offensive lob, make sure that you are doing the following:

  • As your partner keeps on dinking the ball back and forth with your opponent, be sure to be farther behind to be properly positioned.
  • When stepping back for the ball after the lob, make sure that your entire body is positioned behind the ball, as you will be in a safer and more comfortable position to take the shot.

In Offense, Don’t Let Your Opponents Be Too Close

When playing offense against your opponents, it is best to make sure to keep your opponents towards the back of the court, away from the kitchen. By attempting powerful shots towards the opposing team behind their kitchen, they will have more space to cover and, therefore, will be pressured to take softer shots to correct the imbalance. 

This is not to mention the scoring opportunities presented by this strategy, as you and your teammate can find much space to score on your opponent.

Practice Your Backhand

Many players see the weakness of their opponent’s backhand as a simple strategy to score points, especially after serving the ball. Either the opponent produces a weak shot, or their shot will be too strong due to being out of their comfort zone.

Practicing your backhand skills with the ball in pickleball helps with your defensive output, as you stop your opponent from gaining what they thought would be simple points. You can have just as much control over the ball’s trajectory with your backhand as you would in a normal position.

Always Check The Space Available

Space on both sides of the court is an essential aspect of the game of pickleball. On the opponent’s side of the court, it is the uncovered spaces that give you scoring opportunities.

Therefore, when playing offensively, be sure to check for unguarded spaces on your opponent’s side of the court. By checking for these empty spaces, you can easily find a scoring chance and prepare for your epic shot.

Use Your Third Shot as a Set-Up 

In pickleball, having an excellent third shot will provide more chances to score points. But rather than immediately use your third shot to directly score on your opponent, use your third shot to set yourself up to score when the ball returns to your end of the court.

Remember, your opponents will be forced into their kitchen when you take a third shot, which will give you much more space to earn points. If you master taking a strong but not too strong shot, you can set yourself up for scoring chances.

Wait For The Easier Opportunities

While pickleball’s overall goal is to score more points than your opponent, taking a shot every single time, your team gains possession of the ball is not a good idea. Taking a shot every single time only increases the risk of the opposing team gaining points.

Instead, keep the ball in play until you see an easy opportunity that presents itself through the errors of your opponents. Most points are scored as either a direct or indirect result of opponent errors. Mistakes that opponents make lead to open spaces, and therefore gives you a chance.

When Taking A Powerful Shot, Remain In Control

While taking a powerful smash of a shot, it is easy to let your eagerness get the better of you. The result is the risk of you smashing the shot so hard it does not cross the net. To prevent this from happening, be sure not to outright smash the ball. Instead, make sure that you retain at least some level of control over the shot, which reduces the chance of the shot coming up too short.

Do Not Poach The Ball During Practice

In pickleball, poaching is when you pace the length of the court to hit a shot that your teammate would have taken otherwise. Though many end up poaching the ball with good intentions, this interrupts your teammate from properly handling the ball. Repetition is key to enforcing any habit into muscle memory, and therefore practicing uninterrupted is the clearest way to getting the hang of pickleball.

Wear Tennis or Lightweight Shoes

While pickleball is an easy sport for people of all ages to play, it still requires good traction and footwork. Tennis or other lightweight sports shoes allow for you to (literally) be quick on your feet and be in better control of your footwork. Furthermore, wearing these shoes reduces your risk of injury.

Aim For The Feet

This tip is relatively simple. Remember, the most challenging shots for you to handle are the ones that are aimed towards your feet. This often leads to giving a point away. Therefore, the quickest way to catch your opponent off guard is to aim the ball near the feet, as this gives them little to no chance to deal with the ball properly.

Practice Using A Wall

Using a practice wall can be very helpful to immerse yourself in the habit of reacting quickly to shots. Hitting against a flat and hard surface means the ball will deflect towards all directions. Since the ball will go in all directions, it will make you move towards varying areas to keep the play going. Practicing this routine frequently will increase your reaction time to the ball, regardless of where it goes throughout the practice session.

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