Most pickleball players want to get better at the game. This typically means improving their reaction time, reducing unforced errors and becoming tournament-ready.
Developing these traits takes time and dedication. To help, we have gathered some tips from our coaches on solid position, movement strategies, patience and predictability. Here are 5 ways to take your pickleball skills to the next level: 1. Solidify your fundamental techniques.
1. Practice makes perfect
Coaches can help improve a pickleball player’s game by working with them in either an individual or group setting. This may include private lessons, camps and clinics, or even online coaching.
One tip that several coaches had to offer revolved around practicing the short hits known as dinks. Kenneth Oliver and Deb Harrison both advise players to learn and develop the proper technique for hitting these shots. The goal is to keep your opponent from aggressively volleying the ball, so that they can’t score points.
Another important tip is to limit the use of lob shots. Too many of these shots will give your opponents a chance to anticipate them and knock them out of play. Instead, try to reserve a carefully placed lob shot for when it is most needed. Lastly, be sure to practice your serve. Most serving faults come from rushing the shot, so it is important to slow down and focus. This will help you avoid making costly mistakes and increase your scoring potential. Taking the time to establish simple signaling with your partner can also prevent confusion while playing.
2. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
One of the best ways to improve your pickleball game is to get coaching. Many coaches offer private and group lessons and clinics, which are great ways to learn new strategies, techniques and drills.
It’s also important to be open to feedback from other players. However, some players may not be comfortable receiving unsolicited tips during a recreational game. This is especially true for beginners, who may find the criticism frustrating or discouraging.
Developing a solid foundation with basic skills and techniques, such as footwork and paddle control, is crucial to sustainable growth in the sport. Mastering the fundamentals allows players to focus on more advanced maneuvers, such as dink and volley shots.
In addition to learning from coaches and other experienced players, players can improve their game by embracing a mindset of continuous learning. This includes attending clinics, watching instructional videos and reading books. It also means being receptive to feedback from coaches and other players and being open to trying new tactics on the court. This could include things like changing your strategy during a rally based on your opponent’s positioning.
3. Be patient with yourself
Most pickleball players say they play the sport because it’s fun and gets them into a healthy lifestyle. But the majority also admit that they’d like to improve their game so they can play competitively against better players.
To do that, players must be patient with themselves. They must take the advice of coaches and fellow players, but they should also be willing to experiment with different strategies, shot selections, and court positioning.
The key to getting the ball into a position to hit is proper footwork. Having solid footwork allows a player to move in any direction on the court, quickly and without hesitation. This tip is important because it is one that many pickleball players fail to practice on a regular basis.
Being patient with yourself is a skill that requires some work, especially for those who are impatient by nature. Some researchers have found that nonjudgmentally journaling about being impatient can help a person become aware of the harsh, intolerant voice inside their head and learn to replace it with a more compassionate one.
4. Be flexible
The ability to move quickly is one of the most important qualities for a good pickleball player. A great way to improve your movement is through flexibility training. There are many different flexibility exercises you can do, such as stretches for your hip flexors and quadriceps muscles. These exercises will help you to increase your mobility and speed on the court, while also reducing your risk of injury.
Another way to improve your movement is through footwork exercises. It’s important to have quick lateral movements in order to get around your opponents and take advantage of opportunities like dink shots and third shot drops. Try doing some footwork drills at home, such as ladder drills or lateral shuffles.
Aerobic and endurance exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, and can be very beneficial for your pickleball game. Aim for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week. This could include activities like jogging, cycling, swimming or jumping rope. Alternatively, interval training can be helpful, as it alternates high-intensity exercise with short periods of rest to mimic the intensity of play.
5. Be a positive force
Most pickleball players want to play at a better level, and most of them think that they can get there by playing more often, competing against better players, trying harder, etc. The truth is that these things might help to some extent, but they won’t necessarily turn you into a great player.
The best way to improve your pickleball game is by using proven strategies. This is why many pro pickleball coaches have backgrounds in other racquet sports, as they know how to teach beginners time-tested techniques that work.
One of the most important things to remember when playing pickleball is to let out balls go. This will prevent your opponents from staying in the point by hitting an aggressive shot. You can also avoid out balls by paying attention to the height at which your opponents hit the ball. For example, if they drive the ball to you at chest or shoulder height, it is likely out. It’s also helpful to pay attention to your opponents’ body language and paddle face. For example, if they have a closed paddle angle and a big backswing, it is probably a drive.