Beginner Pickleball Tips and Tricks to Upgrade Your Game (2.0-3.0+)

Pickleball Tips and Tricks

Pickleball is the fastest-growing sport in the country, with new players picking up paddles and hitting the courts every day.

Whether you’re new to pickleball or have just started recently, the following Pickleball Tips and Tricks will help you solidify your understanding of the game and provide you with the strategies needed to advance to the intermediate level.

This post is part of a tips series that includes:

Alright, let’s dive into the beginner’s tips!

Familiarize yourself with the basic rules of pickleball

Pickleball becomes much more enjoyable once you have a firm grasp of the basic rules. You don’t need to memorize every detail, but it’s important to understand the key points.

This includes serve rules, the two-bounce rule, and the NVZ/kitchen rules.

I have a dedicated post on pickleball rules that can help you understand the essential aspects.

Establish an effective, ready position

To level up in pickleball, adopting a strong, ready position is crucial. I can often tell whether a new player has potential or has received coaching just by observing their ready position.

Here are some ready position tips:

  • Keep your paddle high and near your chest. This helps you react quicker, especially at the net.
  • Maintain a low stance and be ready to spring. When preparing for the ball to come your way, slightly crouch with a wide-set base as if you’re ready to pounce. You don’t need to bend excessively, just avoid standing idly as if waiting for a bus. Bending your knees allows you to be more explosive and ready to get below the ball for dinks and to dig out hard low shots.
  • Adjust your paddle position based on your court position. When you’re at the kitchen line, keep your paddle up and ready to block or attack. When you step back from the kitchen line, lower your paddle to be prepared for shots aimed at your feet. If your opponent hits fast and high, you should be able to react in time, and if not, the ball might be going out anyway.
  • Stay consistent. Skilled players maintain their ready position without lapsing. Always keep your paddle up and ready between each shot when at the kitchen line. The moment you drop your positioning, your opponent will target you with a speed-up.

Keep your movements centered and your swings compact

One common mistake beginner pickleball players make on the court is swinging wildly and losing their center of balance.

In pickleball, you want to move like an athlete. Here are some essential tips:

  • Focus on developing proper footwork while maintaining a low and wide stance. Avoid resting your weight on the balls of your feet. Instead, stay on your toes when preparing for an incoming ball. This will help you move explosively from side to side and forward and backward.
  • Keep your head and torso movements minimal. When moving around the court, aim to remain as stable and fluid as possible. Maintaining control over your momentum is easiest when your torso is relatively still, and your legs are doing most of the work. If you flail around while moving, you’re more likely to become unbalanced and mishit the ball. You’ll also be less prepared for the next shot that comes your way.
  • Only move as much as necessary when swinging at the ball. Many beginners tend to swing with exaggerated motions and large follow-throughs. While this can be acceptable for big groundstrokes near the baseline, it’s not ideal when you’re closer to the net. At the kitchen line, use tight, compact swings. This will help you maintain a solid, ready position for the next shot.

Take your time to square up before hitting the ball

Beginner players often feel pressured to hit the ball as quickly as possible and don’t take advantage of the time they have to properly set their feet and prepare to hit a fundamentally sound shot.

Unlike other paddle sports like tennis and racquetball, pickleball usually gives you a decent amount of time to prepare for an incoming shot.

Be aware of the time available to you and avoid feeling rushed or pressured unnecessarily. You typically have more time than you think, which you can use to get ito the best possible position for your shot.

Shift to cover the court

As a beginner, it’s important to understand proper court coverage. You don’t want to crowd your partner and disrupt their shot, but you do need to focus on closing gaps.

The term for shifting to cover open gaps is “shading.” This refers to how players move side to side depending on where the ball is going.

Shading can be somewhat complicated, but the basics are that you want to follow the ball and stay in front of it. If the ball is hit to the left side of the court, you and your partner should shift to that side to cover the next shot.

Moving like this gives you the best chance to cover any advantageous angles your opponent might take, such as a shot down the outside line or one placed in the middle between you and your partner. Closing those gaps will keep you in the point.

Serve and return the ball deep

One of the main advantages of positioning in pickleball is being up at the kitchen/NVZ line. You should aim to move up to the kitchen line in every point while also keeping your opponent as far back as possible.

Since both the serve and return need to bounce before they can be hit in pickleball, hitting a deep shot to the back of the court ensures that your opponent will have to stay back to hit the ball after it bounces.

Not only does this strategy keep them back, but it also makes their shot more difficult. This is particularly true when you hit a deep return because you are able to move to the kitchen line while your opponent has to stay far back to hit your deep return. As a result, their third shot, one of the most challenging and important shots in pickleball, becomes even harder for them.

Stay back after you serve

Remember, the return has to bounce. So if you’ve hit a serve and the returning team is hitting their return back at you, you’ll need to let it bounce.

A lot of beginner pickleball players forget this and take steps into the court after hitting their serve. Typically, opponents will realize this and hit a deep return right to them, which they won’t be prepared for. Usually, this results in the server hitting the ball before it bounces (losing the point), popping it up, or hitting it out of bounces.

So, be sure to stay back after you’ve served. This way, you won’t have to react by backpedaling in an attempt to get behind a deeply-returned ball.

Prioritize keeping the ball in play

In pickleball, most rallies are determined by unforced errors, especially in games involving new players, where aggressive and risky shots are prevalent.

To progress, prioritize keeping the ball in play and allow your opponent to make mistakes instead of yourself.

To achieve this effectively, avoid attempting to hit every shot with maximum power or opting for low-percentage shots, such as difficult sideline shots or premature speed-ups. Instead, focus on placement over power and maintain control over the pace of the game.

Above all, exercise patience. Many players become impatient during long rallies and attempt to secure a winning shot prematurely. Unless there is a clear opportunity to make a winning shot, this strategy often leads to losing the point.

Summary of Pickleball Tips and Tricks

In pickleball, maintaining a solid, ready position is crucial for reacting quickly and effectively to incoming shots. By keeping your paddle high and near your chest, you can be prepared to block or attack the ball at a moment’s notice, especially when at the net.

Additionally, maintaining a low and ready stance with slightly bent knees allows you to be more explosive and agile, enabling you to move swiftly to cover the court. It’s important to adjust your paddle position based on your court position, keeping it up when at the kitchen line for quick reflexes and lowering it when stepped back to defend against shots aimed at your feet. Consistency is key, so strive to maintain your ready position between shots to ensure readiness for whatever comes your way.

FAQs about Pickleball Tips and Tricks

What are some essential tips for beginners in pickleball?

Beginners should focus on learning the rules, developing proper footwork and positioning, and practicing consistent and controlled shots. It’s also important to start with a reliable paddle and engage in regular practice sessions to improve skills.

How can I improve my serve in pickleball?

Answer: To improve your serve, focus on consistency and placement rather than power. Practice different types of serves, such as the deep serve, short serve, and spin serves, and experiment with various grips and techniques to find what works best for you.

How can I develop better footwork and positioning on the court?

Work on maintaining a low and wide stance, staying on your toes, and moving fluidly around the court. Practice drills specifically designed to improve agility, speed, and balance, and focus on keeping your body stable while making shots.

How can I avoid common mistakes and unforced errors during a game?

Focus on consistency, patience, and smart shot selection. Avoid trying to hit winners on every shot and instead aim to keep the ball in play, forcing your opponent to make mistakes. Stay mentally focused and avoid getting too frustrated or impatient.

How can I improve my consistency and control in my shots?

Practice regularly and focus on developing a smooth and repeatable stroke technique. Work on hitting the ball cleanly and crisply, aiming for the center of the paddle’s sweet spot. Pay attention to your grip, body positioning, and follow-through to maximize control.

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