Pickleball Strategy for Beginners: The Ultimate Guide
Get your paddle in position because it’s time to take your pickleball strategy to the next level. Whether you’re playing a singles or doubles match, you need to thoughtfully strategize your moves for a successful game. Before jumping in head first, check out this guide to help you strategize your next game.
Strategy for Singles
The great thing about playing a game of singles is not having to worry about another teammate or better yet two opponents. But instead, the pressure is on you to perform well at every hit.
To get the game going on a high note, you should try to hit your serve as firmly and deeply into your opponent’s court as possible. After the third introductory shot, keep the ball moving because most points are won in error or faults.
All your other hits in the game should vary in direction, so you can keep your opponent on their feet. Plus, it will make it difficult for them to anticipate your next shot.
For successful, more advanced hits, a good paddle is instrumental. Adding spin to the ball, for example, can give you the edge needed to win your next game!
While playing a singles game, position yourself as close to the center as you can. This allows you to move easily between the right side and the left side and saves you time and energy.
Once you are positioned correctly, aim your returns deep and towards corners causing your opponent to keep moving back and forth.
Strategy for Doubles
There are many similar strategies between a singles and a doubles match. The main difference between the two is that playing doubles means you have to work with a teammate and find a good rhythm.
A good tip to remember while playing a doubles match is that hitting angles wins you the most points. Make sure your hits are long and deep. You want to keep your opponents at the baseline while you advance towards the net. Generally, the team that dominates the net wins.
When returning the ball, try to return it towards the center, so both opponents move towards it. In addition to causing confusion between your opponents, returning the ball to the center forces right-handed players to use a backhand return.
Also, try to hit the ball at a downward angle towards your opponents’ feet. Returning a ball at your feet is hard to do. Just be sure to avoid hitting your opponent!
In a game of doubles, focus on consistency and precision with your serves. You want to consistently get the ball over the net while aiming for the center of the diagonally opposite service court.
And remember, you want to make your serves as deep as possible to keep your opponents at the baseline.
Positioning in a doubles game is a little bit different compared to a singles match. Each teammate will get a side of the court instead of positioning themselves towards the center.
You’ll want to eliminate any holes in the middle of the court because they become easy targets for your opponents to capitalize on. Eliminating the holes can be done by moving in sync with your partner and being a good communicator.
One of the most important things in a doubles match is communication. Without communication, your team will have a higher chance of errors like faults, running into each other, or assuming the other person has the ball.
Make sure both you and your teammate clearly call out whose ball it is and if you see it heading towards an out-of-bounds area.
The more you communicate, the less confusion your team has and the easier it becomes to win the game.
3rd Shot Strategy
A great strategy to follow that will help you win any kind of match is following a 3rd shot strategy. The goal is to hit a soft drop shot into the non-volley zone so you can get to the net after your opponent returns your serve.
You can achieve this strategy a few ways — dink, lob, down the line, side drop shot, or drilling the net person. If you need help better understanding these terms, check out the 25 Pickleball Terms You Need to Know Before You Play Your First Game.
You essentially want to drop shot in the kitchen by letting the ball hit at your opponent’s feet. In most cases, your opponent will have a difficult time returning a ball at their feet.
Generally, to have a successful game, you want to have a good serve, a good return, and a good 3rd shot. But, there are a few other strategies you’ll want to keep in mind for every game.
A key advantage while playing any game, especially Pickleball, is to use your opponent's weaknesses against them.
For example, if they have a weak backhand, try to serve as many hits that require them to use a backhand shot. Many right-hand players have a hard time hitting with a backhand because it isn’t a comfortable position for them.
The best way to learn about your opponent’s weaknesses is to watch as they warm-up. If you can’t find any weaknesses during the warm-up, watch and adjust during the match.
Pickleball isn’t necessarily a high mobility sport, but you do need to stay prepared and agile at all times. You need to stay light on your feet by staying on the balls of each foot. This lets you react quickly at all times.
You also need to anticipate your next move as well as your opponent’s next move. You can do this by watching how they hold their paddles. This indicates whether they will have a natural throw or will warn you of a backhand.
Also, keep your paddle up and in front of you, so you are ready at all times.
Now that you’ve got a good strategy at hand, it’s time to hit the court! For more beginner pickleball tips, check out a few of our most popular guides:
The Ultimate Pickleball Rules Guide
How to Play Pickleball - The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide
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