A Complete Guide to Easy-to-Practice Pickleball Tips & Tricks (Proven)
Whether you’re just starting out playing pickleball or if you’re looking to improve your established pickleball game, some tips and tricks can help you.
Even small changes to your technique or your overall conditioning can do wonders for you on the court and take you from an average player to an exceptional one.
Here are some easy-to-practice pickleball tips and tricks that can help you be a better pickleball player.
So let’s begin
Practice Often and Well
Yes, it’s a cliché, but practice does make perfect. Even the top pickleball players in the world perform drills often and work with trainers or partners to practice. Pickleball, just like any sport, requires time, effort and dedication. You have to take the time to practice whenever you can. Perform drills, play practice matches with a partner, and work with a coach to improve your technique if possible. You’re never too good to skip practice.
Know All of the Rules
Of course, you should always know all of the rules of whatever game you’re playing. If you’re more experienced, this shouldn’t be a real issue, but if you’re new to the game, this applies to you. Before you set foot on the court, you have to familiarize yourself with the rule.
For pickleball, this is most important in terms of the faults. Faults are committed in different ways in pickleball:
- You hit the ball out of bounds
- The ball touches a part of the no-volley zone
- The ball fails to go over the net
- You hit the ball before it bounces on each side
- You volley the ball in the no-volley zone
When you know the rules of pickleball backward and forwards, you’re much less likely to commit a fault and hurt your on-court performance. You also won’t be at the mercy of your opponent. For example, if your opponent knows you’re not very experienced, they might try to take advantage of you and say you’ve committed faults when you didn’t. If you know the rules, this can’t happen.
Always Warm-up Before Playing
Any physical activity has to start with a good warm-up. When you fail to warm up before playing pickleball, or any sport, you not only leave yourself open to injury but also hinder your body from properly functioning.
When you warm up before playing, you’re helping your body pump oxygen into your blood and then helping your circulatory system move that blood throughout your body. This oxygen-laden blood is pumped to your muscles to help you perform better and to help keep aches and pains away post-play.
When circulation is increased in this gradual fashion, it’s safer than blood rushing at a quick pace during exertion. Warming up before playing allows for this continuous release that will continue throughout your match.
Furthermore, muscles that haven’t been properly warmed up won’t be able to handle the shocks from impacts or strenuous use. This is what makes you more susceptible to injury when you skip a warm-up.
Serve and Stay in the Middle
In pickleball, you can serve from cross-court, in front of you, and in the middle. Since the net is lower in the middle than on the ends, it’s best to serve in the middle. Besides that, you can get into your opponents’ heads. This is because by shooting in the middle, they have to quickly decide who will take the shot which can confuse and, therefore, mistakes. Of course, this is only so if you’re playing doubles. As the game continues, you should also try to stay in the middle as much as possible and, if playing doubles, try not to be a court hog and encroach on their side.
Use Proper Serving Form
While discussing serving, it’s essential to use the proper form whenever serving the ball. When you use and maintain the correct serving form, you’re more likely to place the shot where you want to. You’ll have better control and better power behind your shot, too.
If you are completely new to the sport, you’ll benefit from talking to a coach or a more experienced player to see what the proper serving form looks like. However, if you understand the mechanics of a basic serve this description can help you: Keep your pickleball paddle parallel to the ground and also in line with the ball while at the top of your backswing. When you drop the ball, bring your arm forward using an upward arcing motion to impact the ball. Keep your weight on our back foot while at the top of your backswing with your knees bent a little. Then, shift your weight to your front foot once you impact the ball. Of course, keep your eye on the ball at all times.
Think About Shot Selection
When you play pickleball or any racquet sport, you can’t just hit the ball without thinking about where it’ll go and what will happen once it gets there. You have to think about shot selection so that you put the ball in the right spot every time you hit it.
In general, you always want to make a strong shot that keeps your opponent on the defensive. However, this isn’t always possible. When this is the case, you should try a dink or a drop shot. Similarly, if you’re looking to keep your opponent in the back of the court, hit deep shots that will keep them playing defense.
You should also avoid certain shots that have a larger margin of error. For example, crosscourt shots that are hit at an extreme angle can sometimes be effective, but they can also go out of bounds easily. If you aren’t as experienced, you may want to stay away from shots like this. Instead, shoot more shots down the middle of the court.
Anticipate Ball Movement
In the same vein, you want always to try to anticipate the movement of the ball. Know where the ball is going when you hit it and use some forethought to predict where it can go on the return. When you do this, you’ll know where to put yourself to make your return, or you’ll know to get out of the way to let a shot go out of bounds.
You can best react when you pay attention to the angle of the paddle during a return as well as the speed the shot is made with. Taking a look at your opponent’s feet can also help you anticipate where the ball is going. This can usually tell you what direction they’re aiming for. With experience, you’ll be able to shift your weight accordingly and get in position for a good shot of your own.
Spin the Ball When Possible
If you’re not as experienced in pickleball, you probably haven’t tried spinning the ball during your match. When you learn how to add a topspin to the ball, it can change the trajectory of the shot and keep your opponent on their toes. These shots will also stay low instead of going high after bouncing. When your opponent can’t predict where your shot is going, they are more likely to make mistakes.
Don’t Slam the Ball Often
A lot of players think they need to slam the ball to create a good offensive shot and overpower their opponent, but this isn’t always the case. If you’re playing against a good opponent, for example, the slam can result in a good offensive return or a soft dink that will put you on the defensive.
Learn to Properly Dink
Instead of slamming the ball, you should learn to properly dink. A dink, if you don’t already know, is a shot that barely clears the net. Your opponent won’t be able to attack the ball aggressively. For this reason, it’s one of the more useful shots in pickleball. You have to have the patience to achieve the proper dink. If you can wait for your opponent to be further away from the net, you can hit a dink and have them scurrying toward the net in an attempt to make the shot.
Stay Away from the Sidelines
Some pickleball players will use the sidelines of the court to try and trick their opponent. They will hit the ball near the sideline in a way where it will bounce near it but not hit it. The hope is that the opponent will let the ball go thinking it’s heading out of bounds when, instead, it’ll clear the sideline and remain in bounds. While this is a clever tactic, it can easily backfire and head out of bounds resulting in a fault. It’s best for you not to do this even if you are experienced; it’s more than likely not worth the risk.
Using the Lob
The offensive lob is an offensive shot that is quite effective, especially when your opponent isn’t expecting you to hit one. It’s also not a popular option, so the anticipating is low. Use the lob when your opponent is near the no-volley line of the court waiting for a dink or a drive. This is the perfect opportunity for a lob.
The defensive lob can be used to give you some time to get back into position on the court. By hitting a deep lob to the backcourt, you’ll have more time to move into a better spot on the court so you can make the best return possible.
It’s best to use the lob sporadically. When you use the lob too often, you take away the element of surprise that the lob has. Your opponent will expect it and be prepared to return it properly.
Avoid Injuries While Playing
No one ever wants to get hurt while playing any sport, pickleball included. One of the best tips is to do everything you can to avoid injury while playing. Properly warming up is one way to prevent injury. Knowing your limits as a player is another. Don’t push yourself too hard during a match or practice. When you’re tired, stop. If you feel pain or aches, stop.
You should also work on your overall stamina and health so that you are always in the best shape before and after playing. Meet with your doctor regularly and follow their directions, take care of injuries when they occur, rest, eat a healthy diet, and workout routinely.
Hopefully, these tips and tricks have given you some idea on how to improve your pickleball performance. Read through them and incorporate all of them into your next practice match or an actual game.