Strategies and Tips for Elevating Your Pickleball Game: From Beginner to Intermediate Level
You may be ready to step up your game if you’ve enjoyed learning pickleball as a novice. Whether you’re interested in recreational or competitive gameplay, it’s always rewarding to improve your skills.
From applying new insights to improving your partner work and drilling essential pickleball techniques, there are so many ways to elevate your game. Check out a few tried and true tips for taking your pickleball game from the beginner to the intermediate level.
Play With Players at or Above Your Skill Level
Competing with and against players who match your talent or energy is an excellent way to maintain your skills. However, to elevate your game, seek out players already playing at a higher level. Doing so will inherently require you to improve your gameplay.
Maintain the Ready Position
As a beginner, you may look forward to the short breaks between volleys, but these breaks make you less reactive to return shots. Maintaining the proper stance, especially your footing, will keep you, literally and figuratively, on your toes.
By maintaining a ready position, you improve your success on the court. Your best positioning for reactive gameplay should include slightly bent knees, feet placed shoulder-width apart, and leading from the balls of your feet.
Control Your Backswing
An underdeveloped backswing contributes to many pickleball errors. Part of maintaining a good ready position includes keeping your paddle positioned in front of you.
Holding your paddle in front of you allows you better control, minimizing your backswing, especially when dinking and volleying from the kitchen line. Optimal control of your backswing means you’ll always be ready for your next best move.
Keep Your Feet in Motion
Pickleball is a game of motion, suggesting there should be little to no idleness during a match. Keeping your body, especially your feet, in constant motion ensures you’re always ready to strike.
You’ll never achieve proper balance or readiness if you’re playing from firmly-planted heels. Instead, remaining on your toes improves your agility and the swiftness to pivot, keeping you prepared to attack balls from any direction. Maintain a forward-facing, square body position and shuffle on your toes from side to side for optimal gameplay.
Hold the Kitchen Line
Playing from the kitchen line places you just a short distance, 14 feet to be exact, from your opponent’s shots. This inevitably makes playing from this position intimidating. Elevating your game necessitates playing from this placement which puts you in a better offensive position.
Playing returns from the kitchen line means you’re most likely hitting the ball out of the air, making your return shots more difficult for your opponent to attack. Although taking a step back in advance of your shots is tempting, playing from the kitchen line is a superior strategy.
Effectively Communicating With Your Partner
Effective pickleball communication occurs both on and off the court. If you’re playing with a partner, strategizing off the court before play begins can exponentially improve how you fare during a match. Here are some talking points to consider before each game:
- Candidly discuss each player’s strengths and weaknesses.
- Who will take lobs during a match?
- Which partner will take shots that come down the center of the court?
- Discuss which opponent each partner will hit to.
Although it’s essential to strategize before a match, communication must continue throughout the game. Calling shots is one of the best ways to communicate during gameplay. Here are the top ways to communicate during a pickleball match.
- Get in the habit of calling “mine” or “yours” for every incoming shot.
- Call “switch” if you’ll shift to your partner’s side of the court.
- Call “out” if a shot will land out of bounds.
- Encourage your partner throughout the game to boost their confidence.
Tips For Improving Shot Placement
As with most ball sports, steadfastly keeping your eye on the ball will help improve your shot accuracy and placement. As the ball approaches your paddle, your goal should be to extend your arm so that it’s aimed directly at your target.
A great way to practice this drill is to set up targets on the court and call each target by name (color, perhaps) as you strike the ball. Keep track of how many balls hit the mark. With the proper form and lots of practice, your stroke will elevate from beginner to intermediate.
Hit the Ball to Your Opponent’s Feet
One of the best ways to beat your opponent is to make it difficult for them to score. When possible, you should always aim your return shot at their feet. If placed well, a shot hit directly at your opponent’s feet makes it awkward for your opponent to return the shot.
When drilling your shot placement, practice with a moving target. The more comfortable you get with placing your shot at an opponent’s feet, the fewer shots they will successfully return.
Improve Your “Third Shot Drop”
Using a “third shot drop,” that masterful third shot in a volley that makes it difficult for your opponent to return, is a strategy that can bring your pickleball game to the next level. This shot perfectly places your shot just outside the illustrious “no volley zone.”
When placed well, it is awkward for your opponent to hit a strong shot. In turn, the “third shot drop” almost always gives you the advantage over your opponent. Drilling and perfecting the “third shot drop” makes you a more formidable opponent.
Pickleball Practice Makes Perfect
Even with all these strategies and tips in your arsenal, elevating your pickleball game from beginner to intermediate is all about practice. Whether getting on the court to drill shots or playing a match anytime the opportunity presents itself, the more you play, the better you’ll become.
Finding a great home court is half the battle for practice opportunities. Living in a community with pickleball courts or becoming a member of a club puts you in a prime position for clinics, pro lessons, practice time, and gameplay.
Bella Collina has new pickleball courts waiting for you. They are only one of many upscale amenities available to residents in the luxury gated community. Contact us today to find out more about our homes and amenities.