Nobody is born a Pickleballer. When you first pick up a paddle, there are a few instincts you’ll have to fight. Even if you’ve been playing for years, some of these common mistakes can plague some of the sharpest players.
Don’t worry, they’re all are easy to correct — and, once they’re pointed out, you won’t be able to unsee them. Not only can these tips help you look like you know what you’re doing, but good fundamentals can help make any player better.
Next time you play, keep an eye out for these:
Moving after your serve
In almost every sport, beginners instinctively want to run to where the ball is. But as in most sports, you can save a lot of effort by just staying in position. This can be especially bad after serves. Beginners tend to move forward after a serve, but it’s best to stay behind the baseline. Remember, the return has to bounce first, so hang back and give yourself adequate room to make the play.
Not moving after your serve
I know, I know, you were just told to stay put at the baseline; but once their return has bounced, so should you. Once it’s open volley time, you’ll want to be at the non-volley line and ready to play. Don’t worry, this one’s easy, just know that as soon as that third shot is hit, The Kitchen is where you’ll want to be.
Not playing your position
You might be eager as a new player to hit everything that comes your way, but if you’re part of a team, it’s not your job to hit every shot. When you play in position, you’ll hit more controlled shots and will cover the court effectively with your partner; plus, you don’t want to poach your partner’s shots. If you want to be a good teammate, just remember that you don’t have to do it all — save that for a singles match.
We get it. It’s fun. But there’s more to the game than hitting hard and hitting deep. In fact, giving it all you’ve got usually does more harm than good, especially if you’re a beginner. So unless you’re in a good position under a lob or high bounce, it’s best to focus on making a solid, well-placed shot — that way you’ll end up spending more time playing, and less time chasing home run balls that landed three courts over. You can read more about it here.
Hitting to your opponents
It only makes sense when you start learning the game — you want to hit the ball to your opponent so they can hit it back. But this isn’t a game of catch, this is all-out war. Sending an easily returnable ball is all fine and good when you want some nice, long rallies, but as you advance in your game, you’ll want to start keeping those shots out of reach from your opponents.
Becoming a better Pickleball player takes time, and the fastest way to get better is to get out and play with a partner or opponent who is willing to teach and has a little more experience. It helps to know the rules beforehand so you don’t waste valuable court time learning the things you could have learned at home. (If you need a refresher course, you can watch one here.) Every new player has questions, and everyone makes mistakes, just keep playing, learning, and, most important, having fun, and you’ll be king of the court in no time.