Do you love tennis, badminton, and ping pong? Great news, you’ve come to the right place. Pickleball is a combination of all three, taking the best elements from each. Whether you’re a seasoned pickleball player or pickleball beginner, keep reading for our best pickleball tips that will have you playing like an expert in no time!
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Tip 1 - Know your Position!
Knowing where you stand during a pickleball match can actually help you and your partner beat the opposing team! The first rule of thumb is to stay in your quadrant, never step inside your partner’s. If you’re serving, here are some position pointers to help with your strategy:
- Line up anywhere beyond your baseline within your quadrant when it is your turn to serve.
- Pick a good diagonal position that will allow you to make a strong serve across the kitchen line while still staying in bounds
- It’s good to stand close to the baseline when serving, but be careful to not get too close. If you step over you will get a foot-fault by crossing over the line.
- Don’t serve facing directly forward! Position your dominant foot back, with your other foot facing the baseline.
Now that you have the basic strategy for serving, where should you be standing if you’re the server’s partner?
- Since you aren’t serving you can stand directly on the baseline in your quadrant.
- Give yourself enough space to be agile and respond to the team’s response to the serve. If the team continues to hit deep, stand further back in your quadrant. You want to be running forward to hit the ball rather than constantly moving backwards.
Knowing where to stand on the returning team is just as important as having a strategy for serving, check out these tips for returning in pickleball:
- Standing opposite the server means you should give yourself space to stand behind the baseline. Allowing 1-2 feet ensures that you have enough room to approach and hit the ball once it's served your way.
- The most common place for the returning team’s partner to stand is in the no-volley zone. Since you only need to let the serve bounce, you should be the first one at the net.
Tip 2 - Learn How to Dink
What is dinking?
Dinking in pickleball means that you and your partner work to extend the game as long as possible so that the opposing team makes a mistake before you do. The key strategy for dinking is hitting the ball so that it lands as close to the net as possible. If you dink correctly, it will force the opposing team to have to hit an awkward ball.
Why is it important to dink?
Dinking is purely a defense strategy in pickleball. By hitting the ball lightly over the net, it forces your opponent to awkwardly hit the ball in a way where they can’t smack the ball hard back your way. Learning how to dink properly is important, because if you don’t dink correctly, the strategy likely won’t work.
How to dink expertly
Dinking like an expert is all about the finesse. The key to an effective dink is keeping the ball low so that your opponent cannot slam it back to you. Because a dink is a slower hit relative to the game of pickleball, patience is crucial so that you don’t hit the ball into the net. Dinks can be hit underhand or backhand, but the most effective is to hit underhand while facing the opponent and the net.
Tip 3 - Practice your third shot drop
What is the third shot?
Practicing your third shot drop is one of the most important strategies in advanced pickleball, but it can also be the most difficult. The third shot drop is either a shot or long dink that is hit from the baseline that lands in the opponent’s kitchen. The purpose of the third shot drop is to hit a ball that your opponent simply cannot attack. The third shot refers to the third hit, after the server and returner have both hit the ball.
Tip 4 - Keep Talking!
Communication is key in pickleball, it’s a partner sport of course! Before you walk onto the court, chat with your partner about your pickleball strategy. Agree to both communicate when you commit to hitting a ball. This can be as simple as calling the ball when you hit it, or letting your partner know you’re doing a third shot drop on a hit. The more that you communicate before and throughout the game, the more likely your hits will be accurate. If you and your partner are on the same page, you can both play more relaxed knowing that you have each other’s backs. Pickleball isn’t just about hitting the ball over the net, it's about strategy and working as a team!
Tip 5 - Sync Your Movements with Your Partner
When you play a game of pickleball, imagine that you have a 10 foot invisible string attaching you and your partner. If your partner moves to the side to hit a ball, you move to the middle to cover. Moving together immediately strengthens your strategy, because you and your partner are consistently covering for each other, ensuring there are no holes for the opposing team to take advantage of.