There can be some growing pains when you are just starting to learn the game of pickleball, especially when competing against more experienced players. Here are a few key techniques and strategic tips for beginners to help you win matches and improve your game more quickly.
1) Power Is Overrated When starting out, there can be a false sense of control and many players are tempted to try and hit the ball as hard as they can. This usually leads to many shots in the net or out of bounds. Remember, control is key in pickleball. Get a feel for your paddle, the court, and the ball and work on your accuracy without worrying about smashing it as hard as you can. Ex-tennis players, in particular, have a tendency to rely on the power game when starting out. Placement trumps power in pickleball. Focus on your placement and control when starting out.
2) Be Ready & In Proper Court Position It’s easy to overlook how important staying in a ready position is. When waiting for the next shot to come, keep your knees bent and shoulders squared so you are ready to position your body for your return shot. Once you follow through on your shot, get back to a central position on the court and return to a ready stance. This is especially important when you're at the no volley zone line (kitchen). Here you have to be ready to react quickly so staying in the ready position is very important.
Further, your court positioning is also very important... you want to get to no volley zone line (kitchen) as soon as possible. This gives you the best chance of winning the point. There are really only two spots you want to be positioned on the pickleball court: 1) at the baseline and 2) at the no volley zone line. You don't want to get caught in "no man's land". Make your way to the no volley zone line as soon as you can as this is the optimal court position to win points. And once there, be in "ready position" so you are prepared for anything that comes your way!
3) Focus On Error Prevention Pickleball is a game of consistency, and the player with the least errors generally wins. When you are serving, focus on getting consistently deep serves with no faults before anything else. A well-placed serve will always set you up for success in the rest of the rally. On other strokes, focus on returning the ball without errors before you try to smash powerful winners or incorporate spin. Don't go for low probability winners when starting out. Work on getting the ball in bounds and continue the point. When in doubt, aim down the middle of the court. You have more margin for error when placing shots down the middle and it often causes confusion between your opponents on who's ball it is.
Although some of these tips may seem like common sense, it is easy to get caught up in the game and forget about the fundamentals when starting out. Be sure you are constantly thinking about these three elements while playing and before long they will become second nature. Have you found any other tips to be helpful for beginners? Share them with us!