Relishing Pickleball: New Player Tips

David Zapatka

New to pickleball and want to improve quickly? Try these tips:

* Seek out a mentor to help you learn the game. Talk with experienced players to glean information and helpful tips. Try what they suggest. Practice using their advice.

* Serve deep and into the middle of the opponents’ court. Do not try to hit hard or hit severe angles or spins.

* Return serves high and deep in the opponents’ court. These returns will give you time to get to the non-volley line where the action is and the game is won. This is not tennis. Being a baseliner doesn’t help your cause.

* Remember the double-bounce rule. Both the serve and the service return must bounce before you can hit the ball. With this in mind, remember to stay behind the baseline after serving in preparation for the third shot.

* The strongest position on the court is the non-volley line. Get there as soon as possible. If you can’t get to the non-volley line before you have to hit the ball, be sure to stop and get into position before hitting. Play with control.

* Face the opponent hitting the ball. Do not face the net. You will pick up the ball quicker and be better prepared to hit a consistent shot.

* Keep your paddle high and near your chest. Your reaction time will be quicker.

* Keep the ball in play. Let your opponent make mistakes. The vast majority of rallies are lost due to unforced errors. Better them than you.

* Return your baseline shots to the opponents’ center line. This area often creates confusion resulting in errors. Make them talk to decide who will hit the ball.

* Use your forehand for power on serve returns and whenever you can during a rally. Develop a consistent backhand you can depend on.

* To hit the ball consistently, always stop moving, position your feet, watch the ball and hit it out in front of you.

* Placement is much more important than power. Think control over pace.

* Always notice whether your opponents are right or left-handed. Hitting to their backhands is a good strategy.

* Play equidistant from your partner no matter where your partner is on the court. This will give both of you room to hit your shots. Taking a partner’s shot is a no-no.

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