General, My Pickleball Thoughts, pickleball, Teaching and helping others, Uncategorized

Becoming a better pickleball player requires shot variety and strategy

Making the move from a 3.5 to 4.0 player takes more than just skill. Many times, we see a 3.5 player join in a 4.0 group, and immediately bang away, using only power to win the point.  Why is that? 

One reason is that they have probably been playing against players in the 3.5 category who have just improved from 3.0, and quite frankly have enjoyed being one of the best in their group or tournament bracket.  Winning points with power against weaker players is easy. 

Another reason is that mentally, people tend to think that stronger is better.  Sometimes it is, when used at the right time, but certainly not always.   Improving players need to learn when to use their power most effectively.

Not only do players need to improve their paddle skills and embrace a combination of soft shots and power, they also must put more focus on the mental aspect of their game.   Strategy is key at the upper levels of pickleball.  You might score a few points with power against a higher level player, but quickly they will adjust, and you’ll find yourself getting beat at your own game.   

Here’s a few things to remember while you play your next game.

  • Getting to the kitchen line is your goal. Most points in good games come at the kitchen line. Continually driving the ball from the baseline will only keep you back and away from the kitchen line longer. It will also either keep your partner back as well, or if they move up, they will become a target. Opponents will be at their kitchen line, just waiting for you to make a mistake.
  • Remember this phrase, especially when you are at or near the kitchen line, “When it’s low, hit it slow. When it’s high, hit it hard.” Of course you are going to attempt a put away with power when a high ball comes at you! But if the ball is below your waist and you have to lower your paddle to hit it, your better choice would be to hit a soft, well placed dink.
  • When you are near or at mid court or at the kitchen line and hit a drive shot, one of two things will likely happen. Either the ball will go into the net, or it will sail high, offering your opponent an easy overhead put away. However, more experienced players will recognize that your shot is going long and let it go. Another phrase to remember, “Shoulder high, let it fly.”

I’ve said it before in other posts, I’d rather lose a game with someone who is working on getting better and misses some of their drop shots, than one who won’t try to hit them in a game for fear of losing. 

Lastly, remember that when you hit a ball hard at your opponent, they are using their reflexes to get to the ball and will often return the ball without even trying. Make them work for their return shot by changing up the pace and placement of your shots.

Becoming a better player involves learning new shots, incorporating power and touch to your advantage, seeing a wider picture on the other side of the net, identifying openings, and using strategy to take advantage of weak spots.  That’s when pickleball really becomes fun!

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8 thoughts on “Becoming a better pickleball player requires shot variety and strategy”

  1. Hi Betsy

    Hope you are keeping well and enjoying the sunshine, golf and pickleball.

    I’ve forwarded below to the Wimbledon girls & they all say hello. We have found a new hall and have competitive fun every week and the girls have really improved! Good advice thank you.

    Louis is planning to play in the APP in Plantation in early March & then Vic & I planning to come to continue to Bonita Springs mid March.

    Carolyn xx

    PS We are in Ras al Khaimah atm, struggling with email, so using my golf email!!

    Sent from my iPhone

    Sent from my iPhone >


    1. That’s wonderful news, Carolyn!! I plan to be back in SWFL in mid March!! We WILL get together!! Unfortunately, we will still be in Colorado when Louie plays in the APP….. but will try to stream any events he might be in! Love to all of you!


  2. Well said! I am a pro rec player,,,, so what’s that , you say? It’s a guy who plays a lot, plays pretty well, and helps players “see” the whole court. Mentally and physically. I play with all levels to work at my game and to offer help with others as needed. I tell willing players to think of the pace of game as 3 phases. Offense, defense and neutral. The offense is the winner shot., the defense is the shot that gets the play back to neutral, and the neutral shot is your ultimate goal to keep play in that mode until 1) your opponent screws up, or 2) the ball pops up or presents itself for that 1 absolute winner.
    Now all this seems simple and it really is, BUT, it’s the player ( with skills) who can possess that instant intellect and reaction who will win the point. It’s a cat and mouse game and you are the cat. Watch a video on a cat stalking a mouse. Like my dog who chases rabbits, while he is bigger, perhaps even smarter, it’s a loss cause. While the cat uses neutral, neutral, neutral to finally go into offense for the kill. Be that cat, help others and join the ranks of a pro rec player!


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