Pickleball is a fun and challenging sport that is becoming more popular each year. With that in mind, this guide will provide a few important tips on how to play pickleball. Because they are listed in order of importance, applying them in the order they are presented will help you gradually improve your game.
9. Serve in the Middle
Although it may not be easily noticed by people who don’t know how to play pickleball, it’s a fact that the net is 2 inches lower in the middle. As a result, it’s always a good strategy to serve near this area and as close to the net as possible. Apart from being a lot more difficult for them to answer, a serve this low and well centered may confuse opponents regarding who should go after the ball.
8. Learn How to Spin the Ball
Without a doubt, top-spinning the ball is one of the most useful techniques a pickleball player can learn. Apart from making it change direction in mid-air, this technique will cause the ball to bounce low. As a result, perplexed opponents will have a more difficult time reaching the ball, let alone answering it properly.
7. Allow the Ball to Go Out of Bounds
Another great tip for learning how to play pickleball is refraining from hitting the ball every time it heads your way. Due to its strict line rules and the specifications of its court, pickleball is a sport that requires a great deal of precision when hitting the ball.
For that reason, it would not be rare for your opponent to hit a ball that is destined to go out of bound. In that case, simply refraining from touching the ball is the easiest and most beneficial choice. Dodge the ball whenever you are sure you can score a point without hitting it.
6. Mind Your Stance
In order to react quickly and efficiently to the hits of your opponents, it’s vital to have an appropriate stance at all times during the game. You can do that by following these tips:
- Maintain your feet as far apart from each other as the width of your shoulders.
- Keep your knees slightly bent.
- Try to put most of your weight on the front part of your feet instead of the heels.
- Maintain your shoulders and upper body as relaxed and limber as possible.
- Maintain your arms out in front of you in a stand-by position.
5. Be a Moderate Slammer
In the beginning, it may be tempting to slam every ball you hit hoping that the force of the shot will be enough to overpower your opponent. However, slams may not always be the most effective way to score a point in pickleball. As a matter of fact, a precise dink or a well-placed volley may be much more effective when it comes to defeating your opponent.
Bonus Read: Complete Pickleball Rules Guide
4. Learn How to Dink
As previously mentioned, the type of hit that is known as a dink can provide a powerful upper hand when learning how to play pickleball. A dink is a soft, short drop shot. Typically, a dink shot comes from near the non-volley line, elevating over the net and then dropping into the opposing non-volley zone.
Even though this type of shot requires much more patience than regular slams or volleys, it has been proven to be incredibly effective as a way to slowly gain possession of the court. This slow and soft pickleball playing can be a fantastic tool against a powerful opponent as it gradually erodes their strategy. In the end, it is the combination of both power shots and soft dinks that result in the most dynamic and effective type of play.
3. Practice Your Third Shot
As its name implies, a third shot refers to the third time the ball is hit within the frame of a single point. In other words, a third shot is when, after a serve and its response, the server hits the ball again. Because it is the first hit that does not need to bounce before being answered, the third shot sets the tone and pace of the point.
In simple terms, the third shot is a transition shot that can help you get closer to the net, setting up a slow game or drawing your opponent in for a slam. As a result, during your training, you can start practicing directly for this moment only.
2. Communicate with Your Partner
No matter how good you and your partner are, if you don’t communicate properly, your team is destined to fail. To achieve a healthy communication on the court, take into account the following tips:
- Call the shot: Partners that don’t communicate often go after the same shot. As a result, there will be confusion, lost points, and sometimes even injury. To avoid this, get used to calling out shots as “mine” or “yours.” This is especially important for answering mid-court shots.
- Help with line calls: A great way in which you can help your partner while they are answering a ball is helping them with line calls. By taking that responsibility off their shoulders, you can help your partners focus on answering the ball to the best of their abilities.
- Establish signals: If you play with the same partner for a long-enough period of time, you will probably develop body language and other types of signals. This will help you communicate in a more efficient way during the game. However, if you are not that familiar with your partner, it is always a good idea to agree on a few signals beforehand. Such prep will ensure you are on the same page during the game and avoid confusion.
1. Avoid the No Man’s Land
Anyone who knows how to play pickleball well is aware of the area commonly referred to as no man’s land. This sector is located halfway between the no-volley line and the baseline. It represents a huge disadvantage to anyone who dares to cross it. That’s because it opens all angles for your opponent to score using a dink or a well-placed volley.
Without a doubt, learning how to play pickleball is mainly about training and consistency. However, being open to a few key tips will provide the edge you need to take your game to the next level. Did you find these tips useful? Let us know in the comment section!