3 Strategy Tips for Pickleball Players + Bonus Tip
After a few practice sessions, many of the beginner pickleball players we see are actually quite good and pick up the game rather quickly. But one thing we consistently hear is that their practices don’t translate well to actual match play right away.
They are able to do everything well in practice, following all of their coach’s directions, but without that direct coaching, things seem to fall apart in matches.
Many of these failures can be traced back to not skill errors, but errors in strategy. Rather than making the right play, too many beginners try to make a highlight reel shot or try to hit a “winner” right away.
Let’s take a look at three basic strategy tips that will help you in practice and will hopefully translate into more victories during your matches.
1. Move To The Net Quickly
We see too many beginners that hang back, even when their opponent is not pressuring them with hard shots. Remember, you have the advantage at the net, so unless the other team is keeping you back, it’s always good to get to the net first and seize the advantage.
If you are playing with a partner, make sure you communicate your movements so that you are on the same page. When you move to the net, make sure you move in sync so that you don’t leave your partner back while you rush the net - this leaves many opportunities for your opponent(s) to hit a winner.
So, start moving up every chance you can to seize the advantage and avoid hanging out in the back when you aren’t being pressured to.
2. Avoid The Highlight Reel Plays for Now
Like we said in our opening, too many beginners try to make a highlight reel shot or try to hit a “winner” right away. Sure, when the highlight reel play works and you smash a winner down the line on your opponent, it feels awesome. But, many times for beginners the highlight-reel play ends in an unforced error - when a simple move to keep the ball in play would have worked just as well.
Instead, focus on getting the ball over the net, and allow your opponent to make the mistake. Oftentimes, keeping the ball alive in a volley will lead to your opponent’s unforced error. Points are more likely to come from an unforced opponent error than a highlight reel winner.
3. The Lob Shot Strategy
At number 3, the lob shot strategy! The lob shot is a shot that is practiced over and over by beginner level players, but when it comes time to use it in a game, most players shy away from the shot. To be fair, the lob shot is a difficult shot for any player.
Often times, players avoid this shot for fear of messing it up or looking “dumb”. But our advice - try it anyways! Because when the lob shot is used correctly, it can be a very effective strategy leading to some very winnable points.
This lob shot strategy is great for when your opponent has already approached the net, and you need to buy some time to get to the net as well. Hitting a nicely timed lob shot over their heads is the split second you need to approach the net and either level the advantage or take back the advantage for your team.
A great strategy to practice that will pay dividends as you gain more experience.
Bonus Tip: Play In Third Gear
While we often see players apprehensive to approach the net or a player focused on hitting a “winner”, the thing we see most is player’s hitting the ball way too hard. It helps to slow your mind down by thinking of playing the game at 3/4th speed, it slows you down. Playing in third gear also helps to avoid the need to want to power smash the ball and allows you to be patient and wait for your opponents' mistakes rather than rushing to make your own.
Check back next week for more pickleball stories, tips, and strategies!