Pickleball is a sport that most of us pick up for fun, but once you’ve been playing a while, you want to start seeing improvement. Is your game always stuck at the baseline?
Do you whiff returns because you aren’t prepared for what your opponent sends your way? Or do you struggle to respond with a limited shot range?
These tips and tricks for getting better at pickleball help you develop your skill set without losing the fun of the game. The best way to get better at pickleball is to keep playing, so grab your paddle and head to the court!
How To Get Better At Pickleball
Ready to take your pickleball play to the next level? Try these tips and tricks.
Stay In The Ready Position
Your posture and body position when you play pickleball might be stopping you from improving. If you’re always standing upright, waiting to see what the ball is doing, then you limit your reaction time.
Easy shots will end up flying past because you weren’t prepared to go for them.To get into the ready position, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your knees slightly bent.
Your weight should be on the balls of your feet, but not perched on your toes. Keep the upper body relaxed and open, with your paddle in front of the body, pointing up.
After every shot, return to the ready position so you’re better prepared for a quick response.
Get Close To The Kitchen
The kitchen, sometimes known as the non-volley zone, is the seven-foot area that extends either side of the net. The kitchen is marked by the no-volley line. When you pass over the line, you aren’t allowed to volley the ball.
But just behind the line is the best place to be on the pickleball court, even if it isn’t the most comfortable place for you new players to linger. From behind the no-volley line, you can hit the winner.
Because you’re close to the net, the opponent has less time to react, and fewer options to return.
Most players use the lob shot way too much, and it can seriously affect your play. There’s no harm in the occasional lob. In fact, a well-placed lob can score you points.
But relentless lob, while it might win you some games, will ultimately limit you from advancing as a player.
Lobs become predictable, and if you’re always lobbing, your opponent will soon learn to predict your movements. Instead, save the lob shots for when you know they’re going to get you points and instead experiment with a diversified shot selection.
You don’t have to lose the lob entirely, and you don’t want to start throwing every shot you have during a game. Find a balance between the extremes, and you’ll see your play go up a notch.
Practice The Dink Shot
A dink shot is a short and soft drop from close to the no-volley line. It passes just over the net, before dropping straight into your opponent’s kitchen. It’s a vital skill for any serious pickleball player to know, and an important technique to add to your toolkit.
When you first start playing pickleball, the natural impulse is to rely on longer shots. Short dink shots are hard to get right, and they can put you in a vulnerable position.
But if you don’t know how to dink, or respond to a dink shot, you’ll never advance your game.The dink is a strategic shot. It can effectively neutralize hard hitters, which can be tough to defend from the baseline.
Keep Your Eye On The Ball
Where does your eye go during a game of pickleball? If you answered anywhere other than “the ball”, then you’re probably missing shots you would have made if you were ready.
It sounds like a cliche, but it really is good advice. During a game of pickleball, you need to keep your eye on the ball at all times. Don’t be distracted watching your opponent or your paddle. Definitely don’t glance across to see what’s happening on the other courts!
Keep your eye on the ball as it makes contact with your paddle, as it flies towards your opponent, and as they send it back to you. This will help you anticipate the movement of the ball, so you can respond correctly.
Play Against Opponents (Slightly) Above Your Skill Level
If you want to get better at pickleball, you need to play against people who are going to force you to use your skills. The majority of your playing time should be spent with opponents at your skill level or slightly above it.
Avoid playing against opponents who are significantly better than you. It might seem like a good learning opportunity, but it’s more likely to leave you disheartened by a heavy loss. But watching a game between two highly skilled players has advantages!
You also don’t want to spend too much time playing against opponents significantly less skilled than you. However, it’s considered good pickleball etiquette to help them with a game from time to time.
Practice Drills, And Then Practice Some More
You knew it was coming, but it has to be said — practicing drills is the best way to improve your pickleball game. Practice, practice, and practice some more.
Choose drills that will help you master the shots you aren’t so good at, but don’t abandon drills once you’ve gained proficiency.
Practice drills against opponents. Together, you can watch your skills improve, and you’ll get a realistic view of how the shot will work in the game.
You also want to find some drills you can play on your own. Find a wall, and start hitting the ball back and forth to improve your speed and reactions. Get tactical, and set up targets on the other side of the court to aim for. And don’t forget your serve!
If your pickleball game seems to have stagnated, try these tips to take it to the next level. Don’t be afraid to try something new, fail, and then try again! The only way you’ll start to see improvements is by pushing yourself further.
I am Michael Wanner, an experienced and educated expert in the field of pickleball. I hold a degree in Sports Science from Cleveland State University, Ohio, USA. My expertise lies in the technical aspects of pickleball and how to play it effectively. I have spent many years playing and coaching pickleball and have a wealth of knowledge to share with my readers. I am a valuable resource for anyone looking to improve their pickleball skills and strategies.