Pickleball is the fastest-growing sport. With the sport growing at a rapid pace, your game needs to keep up. More and more players are hopping on the pickleball train, bringing more and more players to the court. Is your pickleball game pacing with the growth of the game? Or are you getting into pickleball and want to pass up the competition? Don’t let your game fall by the wayside as the game continues to grow at a rapid pace. Below, the Paddle Experts at JustPaddles put together a list of the best pickleball tips to improve your game. Let's get into it.
Know the Rules
The rules of pickleball can be confusing and seem like a lot at first. Knowing the rules of pickleball can separate you from the competition from the beginning. Knowing where you can be, cannot be, and when the opposition is not following the rules will get you points on the board quicker than a huge forehand. Get to know the rules and watch how your score gets to 11 faster than your opposition.
Proper Grip Technique
The most important piece of equipment on the pickleball court is the pickleball paddle. The only piece of your body connecting to your pickleball paddle is your hand. Your hand is connected to the pickleball grip, making your grip on the paddle one of the key factors in success on the pickleball court. While there are more desired grips on the paddle, everyone's a little different. At JustPaddles, we like to suggest your most comfortable grip while maintaining a loose but stable feel as if you were trying to hold an injured bird. This will allow you to flow with the game of pickleball instead of squeezing the paddle grip to death. Balls will seem to fly off your paddle, at the same time, controlling the ball in the kitchen. If you are wanting to learn more about all of the proper grip techniques, learn the differences between eastern, western, and continental below.
Don’t forget to Protect your Grip with an overgrip from PickleSkins!
Learn and Adjust to the Ball
The game of pickleball is focused on one small plastic ball with holes in it that are constantly in motion. Rarely does the ball bounce in the same spot, move at the same speed, or meet your paddle in the same spot. Learning to adjust, adapt and anticipate where the pickleball is going to be is an art form. Learning this art form will take your game to new heights and to higher-level courts. The best way to learn this art form is to get out on the court and play! If you aren’t able to hop on the courts right away, tune into one of the many pickleball YouTube channels and see how they move to where the ball is ‘going to be’ instead of reacting to where the ball is.
Shorten your Strokes
Swing smarter, not harder, is something we should all tell ourselves while on the pickleball court. Many players are transitioning from a much larger court, with much more force needed. Tennis players often come to pickleball with a thunderous forehand and a large backswing. This often brings players great success as they come into pickleball with the skills needed to dominate lower-level players. As your game progresses and the skill level of your competition improves, you will start to see that the long swings will have you on your heels when balls start to come back your way faster and faster. Shorter up that backswing and be ready for the ball that’s coming back to your side of the court.
Correct Ready Position
Being ready before the ball gets to your paddle will keep your opponents on their heels. Being on the balls of your feet, paddle in a neutral and comfortable position with a slight knee bent. For a visual, imagine jumping off of a big step with a paddle in hand. Land with both feet hitting the ground at the same time. Do this a couple of times and see how you land on the ground. This is the correct way to be in a ready position on the court. Athletic and ready to attack and move to the fast-moving ball.
Get to the Kitchen
The dinner bell is ringing, hustle and bustle in the kitchen! On the pickleball court as well as dinner time, you want to get to the kitchen. The majority of points won in pickleball are won at the kitchen line. Any time you see an opportunity to get your toes to the kitchen line, take advantage and get to the line. Backline big swings can often be fun and powerful, but the points are won at the kitchen. And for your opponents, keep them off the kitchen line if possible. Pushing your opponent to the backline with you at the kitchen line will have you set up for success. You’ll start to see more put-away shots for you and your partner.
Use the NVZ to your advantage
The NVZ (non-volley zone), otherwise known as the ‘Kitchen,’ is where all the action happens. Firefights, ATP’s, Erne’s, and much more happen around the Non-Volley Zone. Knowing when to hop in, out, and around the non-volley zone can make for an enjoyable, exciting, and win-filled pickleball experience. Check out our in-depth blog below, explaining everything you need to know about the pickleball kitchen.
Learn how to Dink
To the new pickleball player, the soft, gentle hits over the net may seem insignificant, but to the experienced pickleball player, this is what separates the good from the greats. Dinking in pickleball puts you and your partner in a place for success. Although winning points are typically thunderous slams past your opponent, those slams are typically set up by a well-placed dink. The best way to learn to dink is by grabbing a friendly pickleball partner and standing across from the net from one another, both at the kitchen line. Lightly hit the ball over the net, attempting to land the pickleball at your partner's feet. A light grip and soft touch will have your dinks land softly into the kitchen. A good tip is to try to dink the pickleball with as little spin as possible. This tip will dial in your touch and have your dinks setting you and your partner up for success.
Watch The Ball
Keep your eye on the ball. You may have heard that as a youth on a baseball/softball field, but on the pickleball court, it's even more important. The name says it all, pickleball, and keep your eyes on it. Keeping your eyes locked on the ball will take your game to new heights. Once you stop the wandering eyes on the court and your focus is locked on the ball, you will see your game improve and take the next steps to the court. Just remember what your first baseball/softball coach told you, keep your eyes on the ball.
Looking for tips on how to improve your pickleball game? The above will give you a good starting point of how to accelerate the progression on the pickleball court. Take the 10 Tips on How to Improve your Pickleball game to the court and start your rise in DUPR rankings today!
Looking to take on the top professional players? You’d better start practicing! Check out our Pickleball Lesson Plan, and one day, you may just become the world’s best player. Have any questions? Ask our Paddle Experts! We're JustPaddles, and we're here for you from Click To Court. You can contact our Paddle Experts via phone/text at 866-382-3465, email at email@example.com, or you can click here to live chat!