If you want to LEVEL UP in Pickleball -- below are 6 useful tips, tricks, and strategies to optimize your Pickleball game.
1) HOW TO RETURN BALLS THAT LAND SHORT AND HIGH !
If you're receiving a ball SHORT and HIGH -- it's best to DRIVE the ball as opposed to executing a DROP SHOT. Since the ball is higher up in the air -- it will be easier for you to AIM down and DRIVE the shot with more accuracy to your target area. A standard Pickleball DROP SHOT in this scenario doesn't take advantage of a weak return made by the opposing team. So DRIVE that Pickleball just like Roger Federer!
2) KEEP YOUR PADDLE UP ON YOUR WAY TO THE KITCHEN
Most people will tell you to get to the kitchen line ASAP. Not so fast! Before you take off like Forest Gump, make sure to keep your Paddle Up in front of your chest -- so you handle any quick return shots with plenty of time to react. DO NOT run to the kitchen line with your paddle down at your side.
3) GETTING YOUR TEAMMATE INVOLVED AT THE NET
If you're in a dink battle, try and hit the ball across the court to the other side. This will help get your teammate involved in the play. You want to avoid dinking back and forth with the player directly in front of you. This leaves you open to an ERNE shot and it will also leave your partner out of the play. So try and dink the ball across to the other court forcing the other team to deal with your entire team when they return the ball. Teamwork makes the dreamwork!
4) SEVERAL DROP SHOTS SET UP A SUPRISE DRIVE SHOT
Once you've hit a few DROP SHOTS during a game -- the opposing team will not be expecting a DRIVE SHOT coming! So, when the opportunity presents itself, look for an opportunity to DRIVE the ball when they're preparing for you to DINK it again. This will keep them off-balance, not knowing when you're going to DROP vs DRIVE the ball during the rest of the game making you less predictable. If you tend to DRIVE the ball a lot, try to mix in a few DROP SHOTS for the same reason! Then your opponents may respond like James Van Der Beek!
5) MAKING YOUR WAY TO THE KITCHEN LINE, SMARTLY
You'll see professional Pickleball players do this all of the time. They don't ever CHASE bad balls (aka Garbage), just to get to the Kitchen line. They hit the ball back and efficiently make their way to the Kitchen line sometimes after 2, 3, or 4 shots. So don't take off to the Kitchen line irrespective of the situation. Assess each play and be smart about your approach. Albeit, if you know or feel like you hit a good DROP SHOT into the kitchen, you can be more aggressive and run to the net looking for a SMASH shot -- but do so at your own risk (or reward)!
6) THE BEST TIME TO POACH A BALL
A lot of people don't like it when you poach their ball(s). But if you do it at the right time, it can go over extremely well. One of the BEST and safest times to poach a ball in Pickleball is when you're teammate must return the serve first and you're already at the net. If you're a good player, it's unlikely the other team is going to hit the ball directly at you while you're at the net. So look for opportunities to cover your side and the middle net area and poach a ball taking them by surprise with a quick return shot to side them out. To combat this, as the team dealing with the Poacher -- keep them honest by hitting a few shots down the line to their backhand side -- so they don't creep to the middle so much.
Comment below if you have any thoughts or suggestions of what works for you when you're playing Pickleball.