Top 20 Pickleball Strategy and Tips for Beginners

a adult playing pickleball

Pickleball is a rapidly growing sport that requires a combination of skill, strategy, and technique. In this blog, we will explore 20 pickleball strategy and tips specifically designed to help beginners master the fundamentals of pickleball and develop a solid foundation for their game.

Top 20 Pickleball strategy and Tips

1. Master Your Grip

It’s crucial to master grip for achieving accuracy and control while playing shots. The grip serves as your connection to the paddle, influencing your ability to play the ball effectively. You should experiment with different pickleball grip styles, such as the continental, eastern or the western grip. As a result, it will help you to find the one that most likely feels comfortable and natural for you. Whether you prefer the continental or the eastern grip, practicing your chosen grip will always allow you to generate power, precision, and consistency in your shots.

Remember to maintain a relaxed and flexible hand and wrist alignment to optimize your grip’s effectiveness. Above all, you have to lay a solid foundation by mastering grip which will improve your overall performance on the pickleball court.

2. Focus On Footwork

Two individuals intensely focused on refining their footwork skills, demonstrating dedication and concentration in their pickleball training.

Good footwork is crucial for players to excel in pickleball. It plays a vital role in your ability to move swiftly and efficiently around the court. It make sure that you’re always in the right position to make the best shot possible. If you want to improve your footwork, dedicate time to practice quick and precise movements. Start with mastering the split step, a small hop just before your opponent strikes the ball. It will help you to anticipate their shot and react quickly. Practice shuffling sideways to cover ground and maintain a balanced stance.

Additionally, try to rotate your footwork smoothly to change direction and reach shots more effectively. You must focus on learning footwork skills which will give you a better court coverage and improved balance. It will also enhanced your agility which will give you a competitive edge in every match. So, lace up your shoes, hit the court, and focus on refining your footwork for pickleball success.

3. Practice The Third Shot Drop

A player executing a third consecutive drop shot in pickleball, showcasing strategic play by softly placing the ball close to the net to surprise their opponent.

The third shot drop is a vital technique that can give you a significant advantage in pickleball. This shot aims to regain control of the net by strategically placing a soft shot into the pickleball kitchen. It’s important to execute a well-practiced third shot drop will force your opponents to retreat towards the baseline. As a result, you will be able to put them on the defensive.

Try to focus on developing touch and finesse in your shots. This way you can create a gentle arc that lands softly in the kitchen. Instead of power, this shot requires precision and control. Experiment with different paddle angles and ball placement to find what works best for you. Just a quick reminder, the aim of executing the third shot drop is to make it difficult for your opponents to attack and regain control of the net. After all, practicing this technique will give you an edge to keep the opponents at bay while positioning yourself for offensive opportunities.

4. Develop a Strong Serve

Serve is the starting point of every rally which makes it a crucial element of the game. If you improve your serve, it will give you an immediate advantage and set the tone for the rest of the match. It’s essential to practice different types of pickleball serve like the deep serve, short serve, or spin serve. This can make it harder for your opponents to predict your moves.

The deep serve aims to push your opponents back. It will give you time to move forward and take control of the net. Try to hit the ball with enough power and accuracy to land it deep in opponents’ court, close to the baseline. On the other hand, the short serve can be an effective pickleball strategy to catch opponents off guard. You have to work on touch and placement to play short serve. At the same time, you must aim to land the ball just over the net and within the non-volley zone. This forces opponents to make a difficult return and puts you in a favorable position to dominate the rally.

Additionally, the spin serve adds an extra element of complexity to your game. Try to experiment with different spins, such as topspin or sidespin, to make the ball curve or bounce unpredictably. This can create confusion and make it challenging for opponents to anticipate and return your serve effectively. Remember, developing a strong serve takes time and practice, but the effort is well worth it. A well-executed serve can give you a significant advantage. It will put pressure on your opponents and set the stage for a successful rally.

5. Improve Your Dinking Skills

Dinking is a fundamental aspect of pickleball that requires precision, touch, and finesse. It’s necessary to master this skill which will greatly enhance your ability to control the pace of the game and dominate your opponents. You should dedicate time to practice and specific drills to enhance your dinking skills.

Two-Line Dinking Drill

One effective drill to improve dinking is the “two-line dinking drill.” Set up two lines for players on each side of the net, facing each other. The objective is to engage in a controlled dinking rally, aiming to keep the ball low, close to the net within the non-volley zone. This drill helps you develop the necessary touch and control needed for successful dinking exchanges.

Drop and Block Drill

Another drill to improve your dinking skills is the “drop and block” drill. In this drill, one player initiates a dink, while the other player practices blocking it back. The focus is on maintaining a soft touch while redirecting the ball with accuracy. This drill improves both your dinking and blocking abilities, allowing you to respond effectively to opponents’ shots. During practice sessions, pay attention to your paddle angle, wrist control, and the amount of force you apply to the ball. Dinking requires a delicate touch, so strive for consistent, gentle contact with the ball. In order to dink strategically, aim to place it close to the net and away from your opponent’s reach.

Furthermore, practicing dinking drills with a partner can help you develop your shot placement and decision-making skills. Try to communicate with your partner, as it allows you to coordinate dinks, anticipate opponents’ shots, and maintain control of the rally. It’s important to work consistently on dinking drills and apply them into your practice routine. As a result, you’ll notice improvements in your control, accuracy, and ability to engage in successful dinking exchanges. This skill will give you an edge in rallies, allowing you to dictate the tempo of the game and set up offensive opportunities.

Remember, dinking is not just about keeping the ball in play but also strategically placing shots to force your opponents into difficult positions. So, invest time in refining your dinking skills, and watch as your ability to control the game.

6. Work on Volleys

Dedicated players practicing their volley skills in a pickleball match, emphasizing quick hand-eye coordination and controlled shot placement near the net.

Volley is a skill that allows you to maintain control of the game. It puts pressure on your opponents and seize offensive opportunities. You need to focus on key elements to excel in volleys, such as hand-eye coordination, timing, and controlled paddle contact.

Hand-Eye Coordination

Hand-eye coordination is vital for successful volleys. You have to train your eyes to track the ball as it approaches, enabling you to make precise paddle contact. In addition, keep your eyes fixed on the ball throughout the volley, adjusting your paddle position accordingly.

Timing

Timing is another critical factor in mastering volleys. You have to anticipate the incoming shot and position yourself accordingly, using split-second timing to meet the ball at the optimal point. With practice, you’ll develop a sense of timing that allows you to volley with confidence and accuracy.

Controlled Paddle Contact

Controlled paddle contact is essential for executing effective volleys. It’s important to have a firm yet relaxed grip on paddle to improve your game. Focus on making solid and controlled contact with the ball for better results. Try to aim to strike the center of the paddle face, as this maximizes control and minimizes the chance of mishits.

If you want to improve your volleying skills, incorporate specific drills into your practice routine. One such drill is the “two-line volley drill.” You should stand in the middle of two lines of players and engage in controlled volley exchanges. Focus on maintaining a consistent rhythm, adjusting your footwork, and a strong and stable posture. Additionally, volleys can be practice from different positions on the court. You can practice volleys from the baseline, mid-court, and close to the net, as each requires different adjustments and techniques. This can help you to become comfortable in volleying from various positions and increase your versatility on the court.

Remember, volleys are not just defensive shots but can also be used as offensive weapons. Look for opportunities to put away volleys, take advantage of weak returns, and position yourself to intercept the ball before it bounces. So, dedicate time to working on volleys, refining your hand-eye coordination, timing, and controlled paddle contact. After all, practicing volleys will increase your ability to control the game’s pace and set yourself up for success.

7. Maintain Court Awareness

In this fast-paced game, maintaining pickleball court awareness is essential to stay one step ahead of your opponents. Here are some tips to help you enhance your court awareness:

Be Mindful of Your Position

Constantly assess your position on the court. Are you in an optimal spot to make the next shot? Being aware of your positioning allows you to quickly react and move to the right spot to handle incoming shots.

Monitor Partner’s Position

Communication and coordination with your partner are key in pickleball doubles play. You should pay attention to your partner position’s on the court. This awareness helps you anticipate their shots and ensures you don’t collide or leave open areas on the court.

Observe Opponents’ Movement

It’s essential to keep an eye on your opponents’ positioning and movement patterns. This can provide valuable information about their pickleball strategy, strengths, and weaknesses. You can anticipate their shots and adjust your positioning accordingly by studying their movements.

Anticipate Shots

It’s important to develop mindset to read your opponents’ shots before they hit them. Try to watch their body language, paddle positioning, and court positioning to gain insights into their shot selection. You must anticipate shots that allows you to react quickly and position yourself for a better chance of making a successful return.

In Conclusion, court awareness is a skill that can be developed with practice and experience. The more you practice, the more you’ll become adept at reading the game and making intelligent choices. So, keep your eyes open, stay alert, and let your court awareness guide your actions on the pickleball court.

8. Communicate with Your Partner

Effective communication with your partner during doubles play is absolutely crucial to succeed on the court. A clear and timely communication allows you and your partner to coordinate your pickleball strategy movements, shot selection. Here are some tips to enhance communication with your partner :

Establish Signals or Cues

Try to develop a set of signals or cues that you and your partner can use to communicate on the pickleball court. These can be hand gestures, nods, or specific calls that indicate your intentions or desired actions. For example, a tap on the shoulder may signal a switch in court position or a specific hand gesture may indicate a desired shot placement.

Use Verbal Communication

Verbal communication is crucial for conveying immediate information during fast-paced rallies. Use simple and concise commands or calls to direct your partner’s attention or indicate your intention. Communication should be clear and audible without causing distractions or confusion for your opponents.

Discuss Pickleball Strategy and Game Plans

Before and during the game, have open discussions with your partner about your overall pickleball strategy and specific game plans. While communicating talk about your strengths, weaknesses, and how you can complement each other’s skills. Understanding each other’s game style and objectives will help you make better decisions on the court.

Provide Encouragement and Support

Using positive reinforcement can greatly enhance the bond between partners. During challenging moments, always try to encourage and support your partner. This helps create a positive and supportive environment, boosting confidence and motivation for both of you.

Maintain a Constructive Feedback Loop

Effective communication also involves providing constructive feedback to each other. It’s important for both of the players to share their observations and insights after each point or during breaks. This feedback loop helps to pinpoint areas that need improvement, reinforces successful pickleball strategy, and enhances understanding of each other’s game.

Adapt and Adjust

As the game progresses, it’s important to remain flexible and open to adjusting your pickleball strategy and communication style. Pickleball is dynamic, and situations can change rapidly. Continuously assess and discuss adjustments to your communication and game plan based on the evolving circumstances on the court.

Remember, effective communication is a two-way street. You should actively listen to your partner’s cues, be responsive, and adapt your actions accordingly. The more you communicate and synchronize your efforts, the stronger your partnership will become, and the more successful you’ll be as a team.

9. Vary Your Shot Selection

a adult playing pickleball

Varying your shot selection is a crucial aspect of pickleball strategy, especially in pickleball singles, that can keep your opponents guessing and off balance. You must avoid falling into a predictable pattern by incorporating a diverse range of shots into your game. Try to mix it up with lobs, drops, and angled shots to keep your opponents on their toes and prevent them from anticipating your next move.

Lobs can be an effective shot to disrupt your opponent’s positioning and buy yourself some time to regain control of the point. Use lobs strategically when your opponents are close to the net or when you’re in a defensive position.

Drop shots are softer shots that land close to the net, forcing your opponents to move forward quickly and putting pressure on their ability to control the ball. Use drop shots to catch your opponents off guard and create opportunities for winning points.

By varying your shot selection, you make it challenging for your opponents to find out your next move. It will more likely make them to do errors or be caught out of position. It also keeps the game exciting and dynamic, allowing you to exploit openings and capitalize on your opponent’s weaknesses.

10. Use Angles to Your Advantage

Angles are a game-changer in pickleball. It’s vital to utilize the corners of the court, which can put your opponents at a disadvantage. As a result, they will have to cover more ground and make difficult shots. One of the effective pickleball strategy to improve scoring is aiming your shots to the corners and keep your opponents on their toes. Mastering the art of using angles can give you a significant edge in the game. Therefore, it will make harder for your opponents to defend and increasing your chances of winning rallies. So, keep in mind the power of angles and incorporate them into your shot selection to take your pickleball game to the next level.

11. Find Your Rhythm

It’s recommended to establish a rhythm which will provide you with a sense of control, momentum, and stability. You need to maintain a consistent pace and shot tempo to create a flow that makes it harder for opponents to disrupt your play. It’s vital to find your rhythm and maintaining it throughout the game to increase your confidence. So, embrace the concept of rhythm, work on your shot consistency, and enjoy the game’s flow as you find your groove on the pickleball court.

12. Play Smart, Not Just Hard

Playing smart not only increases your chances of winning points but also reduces unforced errors. It allows you to control the pace of the game, keep your opponents guessing, and exploit their weaknesses. So, practice shot placement with strategic decision-making to elevate your game to become a more better pickleball player. Remember, it’s not only about hitting the ball hard but also using your skills and intelligence to outmaneuver your opponents and make calculated moves.

13. Stay Patient in Rallies

Rallies can be intense and require a great deal of patience. It’s important to resist the urge to play rush shots and instead maintain composure and wait for the right opportunity to strike. Remember, staying patient can give you an edge to capitalize on your opponents’ mistakes and make strategic decisions that lead to winning points.

14. Keep a Positive Mindset

A positive mindset can make all the difference in your performance. It’s important to have a positive attitude during matches. It not only boosts your confidence but also helps you overcome challenges and perform at your best.

Remember, a positive mindset is a choice you make. Even in challenging moments or when facing tough opponents, you have the power to maintain a positive attitude. Try to surround yourself with supportive teammates and coaches who uplift your spirits and reinforce a positive outlook. So, approach each match with positivity, belief in your abilities, and a desire to improve and develop. After all, positive mindset can unlock your full potential on the pickleball court.

15. Work on Your Fitness

A pickleball player engaged in a fitness routine, highlighting the commitment to physical training and conditioning to enhance performance on the court.

Pickleball is a physically demanding sport that requires a combination of endurance, agility, and strength. It’s essential to prioritize your fitness to excel on the court and prevent injuries. Regular exercise will enhance your performance and contribute to your overall well-being.

  • Agility: Quick movements and agile footwork are essential in pickleball. There are some agility exercises that you can apply to your training routines, such as ladder drills, cone drills, and lateral movements. These exercises improve your ability to change direction rapidly, react to shots effectively, and cover the court efficiently.
  • Strength: The more you develop strength, the more you’ll have the power and stability to play great shots. It’s crucial to have stronger muscles that provide a solid foundation for your shots. It also increases shot speed and helps prevent injuries by supporting your joints and improving overall stability.
  • Mental Well-being: Regular exercise releases endorphins which promote a positive mood and reduce stress. So, engaging in fitness activities is vital for enhancing both your physical health and mental well-being. A clear and focused mind contributes to better decision-making, concentration, and overall performance on the court.

16. Learn from Experienced Players

In any sport, learning from experienced players can significantly enhance your skills and understanding of the game. It’s vital to observe their pickleball strategy, techniques and decision-making on the court. This way you will be able to obtain valuable insights and accelerate your progress.

Technique and Form

Experienced players have honed their techniques over time, refining their strokes, footwork, and overall mechanics. It’s mandatory to observe them closely as you can learn proper form and technique. It will improve your shot execution, consistency, and overall game. Pay attention to their grip, body positioning, swing mechanics, and timing to apply these elements to your own play.

Mental Approach and Composure

Learning from experienced players goes beyond just physical skills. It also involves understanding their mental approach and composure on the court. The competitive players often exhibit a calm and focused mindset which helps them make better decisions under pressure. It’s essential to observe how they handle mistakes, maintain a positive attitude, and stay composed during challenging moments. So, emulating their mental approach can elevate your game and improve your ability to handle competitive situations.

Advice and Feedback

It’s always a good idea to ask for advice and feedback from more experienced players. They can provide valuable insights specific to your game and offer personalized suggestions for improvement. Ask questions, engage in discussions, and seek their guidance to help identify areas of strength and areas that need improvement. Their feedback can be instrumental in refining your skills and taking your game to the next level.

Learn Sportsmanship and Etiquette

Experienced players often embody good sportsmanship and adhere to proper pickleball etiquette. Try observe how they interact with their opponents, show respect, and uphold the spirit of the game. Learning from their conduct on and off the court will help you develop a strong sense of sportsmanship and contribute to a positive playing environment.

Additionally, take advantage of opportunities to learn from experienced players, whether it’s through organized clinics, workshops, or friendly matches. Similarly, seek out online resources, instructional videos, and forums where experienced players share their insights and knowledge.

Remember, learning from experienced players is a continuous process. Try to stay open-minded, be receptive to feedback, and always strive to expand your knowledge and skills. After all, combining both observation and active engagement can maximize your learning potential and accelerate your growth as a pickleball player.

17. Play Tournaments and Compete

If you’re looking to take your pickleball skills to the next level, participating in tournaments and competing against different opponents is a fantastic way to challenge yourself and grow as a player. Tournaments offer a unique opportunity to gain valuable experience, test your skills, and elevate your game. 

If you want to start your competitive journey, research local pickleball tournaments in your area or consider participating in regional or national events. Start with tournaments that align with your skill level and gradually challenge yourself by entering higher-level competitions as you progress. Remember to approach tournaments with a growth mindset, focusing on learning and improvement rather than solely on winning. So, embrace the opportunity to compete, enjoy the experience, and celebrate your achievements along the way.

18. Analyze and Reflect on Your Matches

It’s recommended to take time to analyze and reflect on your matches which will provide insights into your performance. This can help you to make necessary adjustments. Here’s why analyzing and reflecting on your matches is crucial for your development as a pickleball player:

Identify Strengths

You should reflect on your matches as it allows you to recognize your strengths and areas where you can excel. It could be your powerful serve, accurate dinking, or effective volleying skills. Understanding your strengths enables you to capitalize on them and build your game around them. 

Identify Weaknesses

Self-reflection also helps you identify areas of weakness in your game. Maybe you have trouble with a particular shot, your gameplay isn’t consistent, or there is a pickleball strategy you need to improve. Recognizing your weaknesses is the first step toward addressing them and working on targeted improvements. 

Set Goals

Reflection helps you set meaningful and achievable goals for your pickleball journey. Once you have identified your strengths and weaknesses, now you can set up specific goals that align with your desired areas of improvement. These goals could be related to shot consistency, footwork, strategic decision-making, or any other aspect of the game that you want to focus on. It’s important to set clear goals that provides direction and motivation for your training, and driving your progress.

Track Progress

Regularly analyzing and reflecting on your matches allows you to track your progress over time. As you make adjustments to your training and strategies, you can observe how these changes impact your game. Reflecting on your performance after each match provides valuable data points to measure your growth and improvement. Remember to acknowledge and celebrate your milestones and accomplishments. They remind you of your progress and motivate you to keep going.

Additionally, keeping a journal or notes is helpful for analyzing and reflecting on your matches. Similarly, you can record your observations, insights, and areas for improvement. You can use video recordings of your matches, if available, to get a complete understanding of how you performed. Lastly, seek feedback from coaches, training partners, or experienced players who can provide an outside perspective and offer constructive advice.

Remember that self-reflection is an ongoing process. It’s important to make it a habit to review and reflect on your matches consistently. After all, analyzing and reflecting on your matches continuously can give you valuable knowledge about your game. As a result, you will be able to make targeted improvements and progress toward becoming a better pickleball player.

19. Be Adaptable to Changing Game Conditions

Pickleball games can be unpredictable, and the conditions on the court might vary. It’s important to stay adaptable and be open to adjusting your pickleball strategy and shot selection based on factors such as wind, court surface, or the opponent’s playing style. Moreover, adapting to changing game conditions could give you a competitive edge.

20. Enjoy the Game and Have Fun

Above all, remember to enjoy the game of pickleball. Embrace the challenges, celebrate your successes, and cherish special moments with fellow players. It’s important to play with joy and enthusiasm to enhance your overall experience.

Conclusion

To sum up, implementing these 20 pickleball strategy and tips, beginners can develop a strong foundation in pickleball and set themselves on a path towards improvement. Remember to practice regularly, stay positive, and enjoy the journey of mastering this exciting sport!

Sayham
Sayham

Hello, fellow pickleball enthusiasts! My name is Sayham, and I am the proud solo founder of PickleDrive. As an avid pickleball player, expert, and editor of Pickledrive, I am thrilled to welcome you to our ultimate destination for all things pickleball.