Pickleball Skills and Techniques Every Player Needs to Know

Introduction

Did you know that pickleball is a backyard invention? Pickleball, one of the most played sports in the United States, was invented by 2 people in a backyard, who wanted to have something to enjoy with their families, and fast forward to 2024, it is the #1 sport in the US alone. 

Pickleball has become famous because of several reasons. Firstly, it is fun to play, and is easily accessible for everyone. Secondly, people from all age groups can enjoy this sport. And lastly, it combines elements of tennis, badminton, and ping pong to create a fast-paced and exhilarating game that appeals to players of all skill levels.

Pickleball has evolved a lot, and so there are many skills and strategies you must know if you want to enjoy the game to the fullest. Here, in this guide, we will be discussing the top pickleball skills and drills you need to know if you too want to excel. Let’s get started!

Getting Started: Pickleball Basics

First things first, let’s cover the basics. Pickleball is a unique and exciting sport that combines elements of tennis, badminton, and ping pong. Played on a court with a net, pickleball mainly is all about hitting a perforated plastic ball over the net using a paddle. The ultimate goal is to outplay your opponent and score points by landing the ball within the boundaries of the court.

Pickleball Skills for Beginners

If you are new to pickleball, you need to master the basic pickleball skills. What are the 3 key things you should focus on in pickleball? Well, let’s first discuss these three basics things before we move onto some advanced things  

Paddle Grip:

The first thing you need to focus on as a beginner is how you hold a paddle. When holding the paddle, make sure your fingers are wrapped around the handle comfortably. Keep a relaxed grip to maintain control and avoid tensing up during play. You can obviously experiment with different grips to find what feels most natural and effective for you. 

Dinks and Volleys:

The second most important thing you might want to know as a beginner in pickleball is learning dunks and volleys. You want to practice hitting the ball softly over the net with a gentle touch, known as dinking. When volleying, try to meet the ball in front of you to keep it from bouncing and maintain control. Your entire focus should be on using your wrist to control the direction and placement of your shots. Also, you might want to keep your eyes on the ball as well and stay light on your feet to react quickly to each shot.

Footwork and Positioning:

The last basic skill you need to have a grip on is your footwork. Pay attention to your footwork, moving in small steps to adjust your position on the court. Stay balanced and ready to move in any direction to reach the ball. Position yourself slightly behind the kitchen line to maintain a good vantage point while still being ready to attack.

Always be aware of your positioning relative to the ball and your opponent to set up for the next shot effectively.

Serve and Return:

An additional skill you also need to know as a beginner is how to serve and return. Remember, a strong serve sets the tone for the entire point, so practice different serving techniques to keep your opponents guessing. Focus on consistency and accuracy. Your aim should be placement rather than power. And when returning serves, predict your opponent’s shot and position yourself accordingly to gain the upper hand.

Taking Your Game to the Next Level with Pickleball Skills and Drills

Pickleball Skills and Drills

Once you have mastered the basics, it’s time to learn more advanced techniques to elevate your game. Here are a few very important skills to focus on:

1. Third Shot Drop:

The third shot drop is a strategic move that allows you to regain control of the point after serving. Instead of hitting the ball hard, focus on softly dropping it over the net, forcing your opponents to move forward and setting up your next shot.

2. Volleys and Smashes:

Want to gain an upper hand in the court? Don’t worry. Mastering volleys and smashes can give you a significant advantage on the court. Practice your reflexes and timing to execute crisp volleys, and work on generating power and precision for devastating smashes that leave your opponents scrambling.

3. Erne Shot:

You might come across this term a bit too much on the court. An Erne shot is basically an exciting move where you approach the kitchen on the side and hit the ball out of the air, adding unpredictability to your game.

4. Spin Techniques:

If you master the spin technique on the court, you will be able to add variety and control to your shots, including top spin for added bounce and slice for deceptive movement.

5. Poaching:

This involves moving quickly to block your opponent’s shot intended for your partner, putting pressure on your opponents and disrupting their strategy.

Additional Pickleball Techniques: 

Here are a few more pickleball specialities you might want to learn about: 

When you’re serving, remember these tips:

  • Toss the ball in the same spot every time to keep it consistent.
  • Make sure your contact point is below your waist.
  • Get into a routine and relax before serving.

For returns:

  • Take a short backswing and follow through long for deep returns.
  • Move your body to get in position before hitting the ball.
  • Aim for a spot about 3 feet above the net.

When you are using the third shot drop:

  • Lean forward and hit the ball directly in front of you.
  • Hold the paddle loosely to keep the ball low.
  • Use your shoulder to guide the ball, not your wrist.

For drives:

  • Hit a drive if the ball is too deep for a drop shot.
  • Keep your drives low and aim down the line or through the middle.
  • Dinking is important for setting up winning shots with your partner.

When attacking:

  • Look for opportunities to attack, especially when the ball is above your shoulder.
  • Follow the green, yellow, and red-light method to decide when to attack.
  • Green light:
    • When you see a ball coming above the shoulder, you can always hit down on your shot. Attack every time but make sure you get your body into position.
  • Yellow light:
    • When a ball lands in the kitchen and bounces higher than the net, you and your partner can get in position to hit the next ball back and go for the attack.
  • Red light:
    • If at any time you hit the ball below the top of the net, don’t attack this shot.
    • Block shots when needed to stay in control of the point.

Strategies to Improve Pickleball Skills

 Improve Pickleball Skills

Wondering how to improve pickleball skills? Well, improving your pickleball techniques and skills requires dedication and practice. Here are some strategies to help you continually improve:

  •  Practice Regularly:

Practice, practice and practice. Consistent practice is important for improving your skills. Set aside time each week to practice your serves, returns, volleys, and footwork drills.

  • Seek Feedback:

Remember, be it pickleball or anything else, always be open to positive criticism. Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback from more experienced players or coaches. They can provide valuable insights and tips for improving your technique.

  • Watch and Learn:

Watch videos of professional pickleball matches to observe the strategies and techniques they use. Pay attention to their footwork, shot selection, and court positioning, and try to implement all those strategies to make sure you ace the game. 

  • Play Matches:

The best way to improve is by playing matches against players of varying skill levels. Playing against stronger opponents will challenge you to make your game better, while playing against weaker opponents will give you the opportunity to work on specific skills and strategies.

FAQs

What equipment do I need to play pickleball?

To play pickleball, all you need is a paddle, a perforated plastic ball, and a pickleball court with a net. Wear comfortable athletic clothing and supportive shoes for optimal performance.

How to develop pickleball skills? 

Developing pickleball skills is a fun journey! Here’s how you can do it:
1. Practice regularly to build muscle memory and improve your skills.
Start with basics like grip, footwork, and basic shots before moving on to advanced techniques.
2. Play with more experienced players or take lessons to receive feedback on your technique and areas for improvement.
3. Watch videos of professional players to study their technique and strategy, then try to replicate what you see on the court.
4. Include drills and exercises into your practice routine to focus on specific skills such as volleys, dinking, or footwork.
5. Participate in friendly matches or tournaments to apply your skills in a competitive setting and gain valuable experience.
6. Improvement takes time, so be patient with yourself and stay positive throughout your learning journey.

What are dynamic doubles pickleball? 

Dynamic doubles pickleball is all about moving fast, talking with your partner, and working together to win. In this style, you and your partner are always on the go, adjusting your positions and backing each other up during the game. So, instead of just standing still, you are constantly in motion, ready to pounce on the ball and outsmart your opponents. It is all about teamwork!

Conclusion:

In short, pickleball is a dynamic and exciting sport that offers something for everyone, from beginners to seasoned pros. By focusing on mastering the fundamental skills, sharpening your techniques, and developing strategic thinking, you can definitely take your game to the next level and enjoy success on the court.

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