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10 best pickleball tips for beginners

Pickleball Tips For Beginners

TL;DR: This article provides 10 tips for beginners to play pickleball, a fast-growing sport that offers great physical activity and socialisation. The article first emphasises the benefits of pickleball before highlighting the importance of choosing the right equipment, such as a light and appropriately-sized paddle, consistent pickleballs, and supportive court shoes. It then offers strategic advice for playing pickleball, including keeping the game simple, planning shots, focusing on one side of the court, using basic shots first, controlling the power and placement of shots, and familiarising oneself with the court.

Highlights

  • Pickleball is a fast-paced and fun game that is easy to learn and a great way to socialize, make new friends, and improve physical fitness.
  • Pickleball isn’t all about winning and losing; it’s about having fun and enjoying the camaraderie of the sport.
  • When starting with pickleball, it is important to choose the right equipment, focus on accuracy and control of shots, and become familiar with the court size, net height, and lines.

Intro

Fancy yourself as the pickleball-playing version of Roger Federer or Serena Williams? It’s time to prove it! Pickleball has become a popular game around the world and is a fun, competitive sport for all ages. If you’re keen to succeed in pickleball, then you need to be prepared with the right skills and knowledge.

That’s why we’ve put together this list of 11 beginner tips to help you get started. These beginner pickleball tips will give you the confidence and knowledge to play with less hesitation and more precision. Whether you’re a complete beginner or someone looking to brush up on their pickleball skills, this article has something for everyone. Let’s get started!

Hey there! Before you dive in, if you want to read up a little more on the background of the sport, try this guide next:

Why playing pickleball is fun

With its fast-paced and fun gameplay, pickleball is one of the fastest-growing sports out there. You’ll love the challenge that comes with mastering your skills!

Besides the physical activity, pickleball is also a great way to socialise. It’s easy to learn, it’s a team sport, and it’s an enjoyable way to make new friends. Plus, playing pickleball outdoors in the sun might even be scientifically proven to help improve your mood.

And if you stick with it, you’ll quickly see the rewards of your hard work. From building a strong foundation of skills to winning court battles or matches against other players, pickleball puts you in great shape and gives you a real sense of accomplishment too!

So take on a new challenge and have some fun along the way—give pickleball a try! Whatever your age or skill level is, there’s no doubt that this sport will keep you active and motivated.

Still not sure if it’s right for you? Let us convince you with this: “Why Play Pickleball

1. Start with the right equipment

At first glance, a pickleball paddle may look like a tennis racquet, but it is actually very different. Paddles for pickleball are much smaller, lighter, and made from different materials than those used in other sports. Not to mention, the balls are different too!

When it comes to selecting the right equipment to get started with pickleball, there are several factors to consider. First, you want to make sure that your paddle is lightweight and the right size for your hand (your grip should be comfortable). You also want to make sure the materials used in the paddle are appropriate for your level—graphite or alloy paddles are great for beginners.

When it comes to pickleballs and footwear, here’s what you should keep in mind: look for balls that have a consistent bounce when they hit a hard surface. As far as footwear goes, make sure you’re wearing sneakers or court shoes with good support and cushioning—pickleball courts can be harder on your feet than other sports!

2. Know When to Just Keep It Simple

Sometimes the best thing to do is just keep it simple. Pickleball is a game of few rules and is easy to learn, but when the game gets complicated and moves faster, it might be hard to keep up. Knowing when to keep things simple can help you stay on top of the game.

Have a plan

When playing pickleball, you’ll want to have a plan for each rally. Figure out which shots will give you an edge over your opponent, then choose one and stick with it. You don’t want to be caught second-guessing yourself or trying too many different shots.

Pick one side of the court

Pickleball is all about putting the ball in a spot where your opponent will struggle to get it back. To do this, pick one side of the court that you want to aim for each time you hit the ball, and stick with that until your opponent can figure out how to return it effectively. This will help you control the game and gain an advantage over your opponent.

Don’t try too many different shots

When playing pickleball, there are so many different shots you can try, from lobs to drop shots, but if you’re just starting out, it’s best not to complicate matters by trying too many different ones at once. Stick with basic shots until you get comfortable with them before moving on to more advanced ones like dinks or dropshots.

3. Control Your Power and Placement

One of the key elements of pickleball is having control over your shots, which means you need to avoid hitting the ball too hard, and focus more on accuracy. Yes, it’s fun to hit that powerful overhead shot, but remember, you’re a beginner! You want to learn manual control and accuracy first.

Here’s how you can focus on accuracy and placement rather than power:

  • Make sure that your balls land within the boundaries of the court. You don’t want your shots going out of bounds!
  • Position your body properly so there’s a solid connection between your paddle and the ball. This will help ensure you don’t overswing and lose control of the shot.
  • Aim for each corner of your opponent’s court with every shot, as long as you’re confident that they won’t be able to return it successfully—this will increase your chances of winning points.
  • Always keep an eye out for unexpected shots around the net—you may be surprised by a few!
  • Refrain from using too much power when you hit volleys around the net, as this can make them fly off court quickly, resulting in a loss of points.

4. Get Familiar With The Court

The court is the centrepiece of pickleball, and it’s important to get to know it. Its dimensions and lines will dictate where you play, which shots you can make, and how you move around the court.

Court Size

The court is smaller than a tennis court, so you’ll want to be aware of that when positioning yourself during rallies. It measures 20 feet by 44 feet (6.1 metres by 13.4 metres).

Net Height and Width

You’ll also want to be familiar with the net’s height—it’s 36 inches (0.91 metres) tall at its centre—and width—it stretches 35 feet (10.7 metres) between posts.

Court Lines & Divisions

Finally, there are a few court lines and divisions you should get comfortable with:

  • The No Volley Zone: Known as the ‘kitchen’, this 7-foot (2.13 metre) zone sits in the doubles alley on either side of the net. Once the ball passes over the net, players cannot enter the kitchen to volley or hit a groundstroke until their opponents have had a chance to return it back over the net first.
  • The Service Line: This line runs in front of each side of the court, beginning five feet (1.5 metres) from either side of each sideline, and extending 15 feet (4.5 metres) from either side of each sideline towards the centre line. [1]
  • The Centre Line: This line divides both sides of the court lengthwise into two equal courts for doubles play. [2]

5. Learn The Rules

Now that you’ve learned the basics of the court, paddles, and balls, it’s time to learn a few rules. Learning the rules of pickleball is essential to taking your skills to the next level. Here’s a quick breakdown of what you need to know:

Scoring

In pickleball, the first team or player to score 11 points (with a 2-point lead) wins the game. Every time one team scores a point, they rotate service back and forth until one team reaches 11 points.

Serving

To serve in pickleball, players must stand behind the baseline on their side of the court and hit underarm serves; lobs aren’t allowed. Serves always start from one side of the court and move back and forth until one team wins.

Faults

Faults occur when a player doesn’t serve in an acceptable way (such as overhand serves or hitting the ball out) or when a ball fails to reach the other side of the court within bounds. When this happens, players get another try at serving or bring their opponent back into play by continuing with their current serve.

By learning these basic rules of pickleball, you’re well on your way to honing your skills even more!

6. Practise The Basic Strokes

Once you’ve got the basics down, it’s time to start mastering your strokes. Pickleball is a game that requires precision, power, and speed. Practice of the basic strokes is an essential part of getting better at pickleball.

Forehand and Backhand Groundstrokes

The forehand and backhand groundstrokes are the two most important shots in pickleball. You can use them to hit both close and long shots, so mastering these will give you an advantage over the competition. To practise your forehand and backhand groundstrokes, work on hitting low shots at different speeds while keeping your body balanced between the shots. You should also focus on timing your shots to create maximum power and accuracy.

Volleys

Volleys are also a key part of playing successful pickleball. By learning how to control your volleys, you can keep your opponents from taking advantage of any mistakes you make in your baseline game. To practise pickleball volleys, focus on using “soft hands” when hitting the ball, and always hit it in front of you so you can adjust your shot if need be.

Serves

Serving is one of the most important aspects of playing pickleball successfully; it sets up an offensive or defensive play depending on how well it’s executed. To practise serving, set up goals or targets such as a specific spot in the court or a designated area for each serve type (forehand serve, backhand serve, etc.). Practise aiming for those targets with precision and accuracy to really master the serve.

7. Keep to Your Designated Area

It’s important for beginners to remember to stay in their designated area of the court. This will help you avoid getting in your partner’s way and focus on making the correct shot. The court is split in two, and each player has their own area to stay in, so it’s important to respect this.

So what are some tips for staying in your designated area?

Don’t Move Around Too Much

When you’re playing pickleball, it can be tempting to move out of your zone, but it’s best if you stay put and develop a good feeling for your part of the court. This will help you maintain a defensive stance and practise good control over the ball.

Watch Your Opponents Play

Being aware of your opponent’s position on the court is key. If they are further away than usual, you have more space available, which means you can take bigger swings and make long shots without worrying about getting into the other half of the court. On the other hand, if their opponent is close by, then taking longer swings might not be a wise choice, as you might get in their way or put them off their game.

By focusing on staying in your designated area and understanding when you have more or less space available to work with, you’ll quickly become better at pickleball!

8. Communicate With Your Partner

Communication is key in doubles play. You need to talk to your partner to let them know where you are on the court and who will take the shot. This can be hard at first, but you’ll eventually get into a rhythm if you keep practising.

Don’t forget to be aware of your body language and facial expressions too, as these can often convey more than words can. In doubles play, you should also try to make eye contact with your partner frequently to ensure that you are both on the same page.

Make sure both players are taking turns.

In a doubles match, it’s important that both players take turns playing and picking up shots from all over the court. Make sure that neither of you is hogging all of the shots—it’s much more fun when everyone gets involved!

Keep talking about placement

Throughout the game, make sure that you’re talking about where each player should be positioned on the court. Don’t forget that you want to give your opponents as little space as possible when playing defence, so having good positioning is key!

9. Stay Light On Your Feet

The tenth and final tip is to stay light on your feet while playing. Pickleball is a fast-paced game, so you’ll need to be ready to move quickly and get to the ball. Here are some ideas on how to stay light:

  • Focus on footwork: Make sure your feet are quick and nimble as you move around the court. Work on side-stepping, slapping the ground with your feet, and using small hops whenever necessary.
  • Wear comfortable shoes: Buy a pair of shoes specifically made for pickleball that have good traction so you won’t slip as you run from side to side. The last thing you want is for your feet to get tangled up!
  • Don’t be afraid of the bounce: You can use the bounce of the ball off your racket and the court walls to your advantage by returning shots quickly in rapid succession. This requires you to stay light on your feet in order to get back into position between shots.

Want to learn more about the importance of pickleball footwork? Hit that link to learn more next.

10. Learn To Dink

One of the most important skills for any pickleball player to learn is dinking. Dinking is a soft shot that’s used to keep the ball in play, and it’s an essential part of the game. Here are a few tips to help you get started dinking like a pro:

  • Start with a modified continental grip. This grip helps control the racket and make precise shots.
  • Bring your feet closer together. This will help with balance, and balance is key when dinking.
  • Keep your elbow close to your body. This will help you keep your shots low and close to the net.
  • Contact the ball in front of your body. Doing this will give you more accuracy and control over your shots.
  • Don’t hit too hard: Hitting too hard won’t give you any additional power—it’ll just send the ball out of bounds. Keep it soft and steady!

By following these tips, you’ll be well on your way to mastering dinks in no time. Just remember—practise makes perfect! Check out our deeper guide on pickleball shots to really bring your game on.

11. Have Fun

One of the best pickleball tips for beginners is to have fun! Don’t be too hard on yourself when you make mistakes, and take the time to enjoy playing with your friends. Pickleball is a great social game when you’re with friends, so don’t let it become an extra source of stress.

Enjoying the Physical Benefits

In addition to the social benefits, playing pickleball can provide some great physical benefits too—it can improve your cardiovascular health, act as a form of exercise, and help relieve stress. So while it can be great practise to push yourself and improve, don’t forget to also let yourself embrace the physical benefits of playing, like enjoying some mindful meditation or making new connections with people who share a similar interest.

Making Friends

Pickleball is a great way to meet new people who share your same interests. With all that time spent on the court, you will have plenty of opportunity to make some new friends—so don’t forget to enjoy yourself and make the most out of it!

At The Net – Summary

Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pickleball player, these 11 useful pickleball tips for beginners are sure to come in handy. Remember to keep your eye on the ball, don’t forget your footwork, and use your paddle strategically. Also, if you’re playing with someone more experienced, don’t be afraid to ask for tips and advice.

With a few essentials and the right attitude, you’ll be able to start pickleball with a bang. Pickleball isn’t all about winning and losing; it’s about having fun and enjoying the camaraderie of the sport. So, don’t be afraid to take risks, be creative, and you’ll soon be a pickleball champion.

David Mason
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