Whether you’re a newcomer to the sport or have been playing with passion for years now, the chances are good that you’re playing a lot of pickleball. Picklers are incredibly passionate about their game, so we’re here to give you Qranc’s Top Tips to compete the best you can, as often as you can.
Top Tips for Beginners:
1. Always Be Ready to Play
- Keep your feet shoulder width apart
- Bend your knees
- Lean your weight forward (balls of your feet)
- Relax your shoulders
- Keep your arms and paddle in front of your body
- Keep your head up
Keeping yourself in this athletic position consistently should quickly become a habit for those of you just starting out. The muscle memory of moving around for shots will help keep you at the ready the more you play. It gives you the best chance of defending a shot that’s been banged back at you or dinked in closer to the net – you always have to be ready in between the lines. When the ball is about to be served, being in any other position on the pickleball court is, well… simply for beginners.
2. Get a Dink Shot in Your Bag ASAP
While it might look like fun to smash a pickleball as hard as you can, according to USA Pickleball the dink shot is one of the basics every pickler needs to have in their bag. A dink is a soft, drop shot that targets the non-volley zone (NVZ) also known as the kitchen.
Like a dropshot at the net in tennis, dinks give your game a ton of nuance and allow you to start dictating the pace of a game – a key to leaving your beginner tag at home. It keeps your opponent off balance, as they don’t know which shot will come next.
Learning how to hit an effective dink takes practice, so start hitting them sooner rather than later. And hit them a lot.
It not only neutralizes power players who may have more experience than you, it’s the first strategic step to dictating the game. When serving, the third shot of the match is a great time to move towards the net and try to dink a shot into the NVZ, but don’t force it, which can give away your play to move towards the net.
3. Watch the Ball Hit Your Paddle
Keep your eyes on the ball isn’t a saying for some trivial reason – it’s just something you have to do. Like the first two tips, this will sound self-evident to picklers with some experience. But this one is a total must every time you hit the ball.
It’s pickleball 101 – but for beginners this can make a world of difference. Pickleballs can bounce unpredictably off your paddle at times, particularly when you don’t watch the ball hit your paddle.
For those new to pickleball, it makes a huge difference to keep your pickleballs fresh for a consistent feel when you play. Qranc offers a pickleball subscription which allows you to focus on your game, not your gear.
Tips for Advancing Your Game:
While most intermediate players will have the above tips locked down, the following tips will help you take your game to the next level. This will allow you to start dictating the pace of play strategically.
1. Return serves deep to your opponent’s backhand side
This tip comes for more experienced players who are looking to take control of the game when their opponent is serving. By mitigating the strength of your opponent’s third shot by playing your return to their weak side, preferably up against the baseline, you give yourself a much higher chance of taking control of the rally that will ensue.
To do this most effectively, it’s important to step up to the NVZ line (also known as the Kitchen Line) as quickly as possible. As soon as your return is hit, step up after your second shot. It should go without saying, to employ this strategy you need to keep your second shot in play.
Most points in pickleball are won at the Kitchen Line, so getting there quickly and lowering your opponent’s chance to hit a banger on their third shot will really help you take control of the game drastically.
2. Keep your shots low
To further take away your opponent’s chances to rally with power, keeping the ball as low as possible – while still clearing the net – is another big step in the right direction. The lower the ball can clear the net, the harder it is for your opponent to return the ball with pace.
To do this, closing your pickleball paddle is key. If your paddle is too open when you hit the ball, its trajectory is much higher which gives your opponent more time to position their shot, as well as the height to hit down on the ball versus just trying to keep the rally alive. This is a surefire way to be hit with a banger. Closing the paddle and playing the ball just over the net is the best possible way to mitigate this and dictate the pace of play.
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3. Stick to your shot placement and be patient
This is a facet of pickleball that players can take some time to adjust to, but when you have a shot in mind – take it! It’s likely going to be your best chance to keep the point alive. Changing your mind too late will result in masques.
Being patient enough to wait for a shot, whether it be a banger or dink, to win a point is paramount to keeping your chances alive. What’s the best sign of good pickleball play? Long rallies. This is because players at the highest level understand they need to wait for their chance to take a chance on a winner.
One thing you don’t need to be patient for? Playing with the highest quality gear – thanks to Qranc. No matter your skill level, subscribe to Qranc’s pickleball subscription to make sure you’re always ready to hit the court when the game gets going.