If you finally have a good understanding of the rules of pickleball and can hit somewhat consistent shots, it is time to start setting new goals as a player. Here are three key things to consider for players that are starting to move on from the basics of the game.
Get To The Non-Volley Line If you have been able to consistently hit crosscourt forehand and backhand groundstrokes, start moving up to the non-volley zone line more frequently. Oftentimes, players that have the most skill near this zone enjoy the most success. When serving, the easiest way to get to the line is by utilizing the drop shot, a slow-moving third shot that lands in the kitchen of your opponent. For more on how to effectively hit a drop shot, check out Pickleball Channel's helpful video here. Once you're up at the line, don't forget to stay in a ready position and pay close attention to the angle of your paddle face as you hit. Try to keep your shots low and look for weaknesses in your opponent’s game to exploit.
Mix In New Shots Besides just groundstrokes and volleys, there are some additional shots that you should work on. A pivotal shot to for anyone progressing with the game to learn is the dink shot. The dink shot is a low and soft shot that bounces in the opponent’s non-volley zone. Being able to hit and return this shot is key to competing against more skilled opponents. Although it is similar to the drop shot, the difference is that the drop shot is hit from deep in the court, while the dink shot is for short range rallies. Read more about the dink shot here. Another useful shot to add to your arsenal is the lob. The lob is helpful in defensive situations and as a change of pace shot to keep your opponents guessing. When lobbing, pay very close attention to the setting. When outside, carefully adjust your paddle angle and strength depending on the wind. If you are inside, be aware of the ceiling.
Focus On Accuracy Having established the correct form and mechanics, it is now important to begin focusing on aiming your shots. Improving shot placement is both a mental and physical challenge. Be thinking about where your opponents are placed on the court and consider which parts of their game are weaker. For example, if your opponent is near the middle of the court and has a weak forehand, try to hit your shot low to exploit their poor placement and on their weaker forehand side. Hitting to your opponents feet can be very effective.