As a beginner, you’re just trying o see if you enjoy the game. It can be challenging to pick up a new hobby or skill. When I first started playing pickleball, I assumed improvement was slow and came after months of practice (Which it does.) BUT… having a basic pickleball strategy for your singles or doubles game that is repeatable and simple can be instantly game-changing. Having a strategy in place makes the game more enjoyable, it can deepen your relationship with your playing partner, and overall make you a more confident player.
Here are 5 beginner pickleball strategies to keep in mind next time you’re playing.
More Stategy Resources:
Just like any relationship, communication is key. This is especially true for any doubles Pickleball strategy.
You can be a good, heck, even a great player, but if you look like a deer in the headlights when a shot is returned down the middle, then you have a problem.
Communication is one of the top beginner strategies that took me from a losing streak that lasted weeks to winning much more frequently and overall having more fun
Who takes the middle shot?
This is massive to your team’s success in the sport of pickleball. Electing one person for the middle shot can save you a lot of stress later down the line.
Usually, the person who has the forehand takes it, but it’s always better to talk about it rather than assume.
- When you think the ball is going out of bounds, Don’t be afraid to yell at your partner.
You have to take advantage of the easy points.
I get it, sometimes it’s questionable, or the shot simply looks too juicy to just let go, but take the easy point rather than gambling on it and risk losing the rally.
Overall communication will strengthen your relationship with your partner and give you a better plan of action going forward.
2. Get Control Over The Net
When discussing pickleball strategy for beginners, getting up behind the kitchen or the non-volley zone is always near the top of the list for both advanced strategy and newbies.
A common saying is, “whoever controls the net, controls the game.”
Make sure you and your partner dominate the net, and by dominate I mean get your toes right up on that line.
Playing back, even just 12 inches, leaves the other team the chance to attack your feet.
If you and your partner dominate the net you will have to move less, and have more opportunities to attack and control the pace of the rally,
Getting to the net before your opponents gives you the opportunity to keep them back, and that opens up more court for you to attack.
The team that is doing more running in pickleball, has the highest chance of losing.
TIP: To keep your opponents back try to return the serve as deep as possible while you and your teammate charge the net. The longer you can keep them back, the better chance you have at winning the rally.
Resource: 7 Steps to Improve Your Return Of Serve In Pickleball
3. Keep The Ball in Play
Seems pretty obvious right?
When it comes to points in pickleball I’d rather feed my opponent a shot and force him to SCORE a point, rather than getting too cute and hitting it into the net or hitting it long and GIVING them a point.
Obviously, you probably don’t want either of those options, but for the most part, consistency is better than placement.
If you can master consistency first to the point where you can simply put the ball over the net in play, you can slowly start to hit lower shots in hard places or at your opponent’s feet.
Keeping the ball in play is especially important when your opponent is good at hitting shots with spin.
When a shot is hit with spin is it usually harder to judge how the ball is going to come off your paddle so be patient and don’t try to put them away until the opportunity presents itself.
4. Placement Over Power
Once you have mastered consistency, you can start to watch and study your opponents. Look for weaknesses.
Do they have a better forehand or backhand? Do they have a lot of range? Are they better at dinks, or long hard shots? What player is the weak link?
Now attack that weakness.
Another tip when thinking about placement is to always notice where the players are.
Are they a little too far back and left? Dink one in the right corner. Are they covering the corners? Hit one low and down the middle.
Here are two resources that may help you get a better understanding.
5. Master The Drop Shot
This is a very important shot to have in your pickleball arsenal. This strategy allows you to control the pace of the game when the rally starts to pick up.
If you can master the drop shot you ultimately take the advantage away from your opponents so they cannot attack, and give yourself opportunities to attack.
Always try to control and change up the tempo of the rally. If your opponents are playing fast and long, hit the drop shot to slow them down.
Bonus Pickleball Strategy: The 3rd shot drop Strategy
The 3rd shot drop strategy is one of the most common and most effective strategies for singles or doubles pickleball when executed correctly.
The Idea is on the 3rd shot, you hit a low, soft, drop shot into the non-volley zone or the kitchen. This gives you a chance to charge the net, take control, and set the pace early in the rally.
As a beginner, it good to start practicing this shot but don’t get discouraged if you can’t pull it off. I know a lot of intermediate and advanced pickleball players who still haven’t quite mastered this shot.
It cliche, but really the most important thing is having a great time. If you truly enjoy the game and get out as much as you can, you’ll learn a ton. More importantly, your confidence will develop and you’ll feel more comfortable hitting those tough shots.