Relishing Pickleball: 12 Common Mistakes and How to Fix Them (Mistakes 11 and 12)

David Zapatka

This 12-common-mistakes column began after playing with some very excited, highly-motivated, new pickleball players at our community courts recently. After playing a couple games, this question was posed to me: “What should we do to improve and become 3.5 players?” We reviewed the first 10 mistakes the past five months. This month, we look at the final two.

11. Using the power game as your only strategy. So many of us want to hit the ball hard. It’s fun! It works when people can’t handle the pace. Against more experienced players, this just doesn’t work. The risk is too high, and the reward is too low. Hard-hit third balls often fly out of the court or into the net. If they’re going into the court, an experienced player simply blocks them into your kitchen softly or angle blocks them through one of your sidelines. In either case, we often find there’s not enough time to get to these balls before they bounce twice. The rally is over, and we lose! Use power as a weapon in your arsenal, not as a full-time strategy if you want to improve your game.

12. Trying to spin the ball too much. Pickleball is a game of placement and strategy. You can’t get as much spin on a pickleball as you can on a tennis or table tennis ball. That being said, you can add spin to your game with practice. Topspin and sidespin serves are effective. Topspin service returns and drives can be an effective way to keep the ball in the court. Underspin shots are effective in rallies, and especially when returning serves, as they keep the ball low. These shots require a high level of skill and accuracy. Trying to spin the ball all the time is a losing strategy. Hitting a spin shot requires a swiping motion across the ball which increases risk of a mishit. Striking the ball with a stroke in the flight plane of the ball is a much higher-percentage shot. Just like the power game in number 11 above, use spin shots selectively, not as a full-time strategy.

Want to know more about the sport, the rules, equipment, or have some pickilicious news you would like to share? Email David Zapatka at [email protected].