There are so many things that you can do to improve your pickleball game.
A lot of these will require focused and consistent work over long period of time in order to improve.
Like changing a stroke technique for example. Changing muscle memory patterns and then being confident enough to use that new stroke in match play takes considerable effort and determination.
There are however some simple and easy things that you can do to improve your game substantially by changing things today. You just have to DECIDE to do it and remember to do it. They don’t require a total reprogram of the way you’ve been doing things. They’re just a choice.
In this video/blog we cover 3 of the top things that you can do to improve your game that will make an immediate impact TODAY!
Tip #1 – Get Up To The NVZ And Stay There
Number one, get up to the non-volley zone and stay there.
I see a lot of players get up to that non-volley zone and they begin to retreat. They don’t hold their ground.
Getting up to that non-volley zone is the key thing that we want to do in the game of pickleball. We always want to make sure that when we get up there that we do our very best to stay there as long as we can. Especially when we are the returning team.
After I return that ball and I make it up to this line, I really want to hold my ground and I want to stay up there as long as possible.
If I’m on the serving team (ex. I served and then you hit your third shot), I try my best to make it up to the net.
I’ve already worked so hard to get up to this non-volley zone line, even if I have to move back for a shot I always want to make sure I recover and stay up at the net.
Staying up at the net and at the non-volley zone line will put a lot of pressure on your opponent and it’s going to win you more points.
There’s a few scenarios where I may retreat. Maybe if I get a lob or something like that, but for the most part if I could stay up at the NVZ line with my partner I’m going to win more points and my partner and I could be a dominant force at the net.
Tip #2 – Get Set Before You Hit
Number two, stop before you hit the ball.
Another thing I see a lot of players doing when they are missing shots is that they are moving while they’re hitting the ball.
Position is very important in the game of pickleball. Being in position and being stopped while you hit the shot is very important and it’s going to help out in the long run in your shot selection and in your shot accuracy.
When players are starting out in the game of pickle they start wondering to themselves why they are popping up balls and why their shots are not accurate.
Let’s say they’re trying to hit a third shot drop into the kitchen, a reason why they are missing those shots is because they’re still moving (i.e. their feet are still moving) while they’re hitting the ball.
This is why positioning on the court is really important.
As my opponent hits the ball I want to do my best to track that ball and see where that ball is moving in order to get into position.
As I hit the ball I’m always stable, I’m solid, my feet are in position and then I’m going to hit that ball. It’s going to be a more accurate ball than if I were to be moving.
It’s going to give me the most control and the most accuracy as I play out the point.
When I’m moving, stretching and reaching that’s when I lose control of the ball.
You can easily work on trying to get in position early and often.
Let’s say my opponent hits a ball to my backhand. I’m already deciding I’m going to hit a backhand return. So, what I want to do is, I want to get my feet set and I’m deciding early that I’m going to hit that third shot.
If I’m going to hit a third shot drive, I really want to get in a position and get my weight moving forward. We always want our weight moving forward and never backward.
Tip #3 – Be SMART, Not Fancy
Number three, hit the smart shot and not the hard shot.
A lot of times we want to go for the winner or the highlight shot but one thing that you can do is that you can start hitting the smarter and higher percentage shot.
It might not be fancy but it’s going to keep the rally going and it’s going to win you more points.
Everyone wants to hit the winning shot and a highlight shot that ends a point.
In a real game, and also if you look at the top pros, as they play pickleball, most of the points are not won by winners necessarily. A lot of them are just won by unforced errors and getting that ball over again.
Let’s say we’re going to dink rally and I’ve worked so hard to get to the net, if there’s a ball that’s a little bit high, I may be able to take that risk on that ball but the smarter shot is maybe just to hit another unattackable dink.
I really want to work on hitting shots that are unattackable and really trying to force my opponent to make the error.
Live Session – Let’s see how patient I can be. Some of these balls I may be able to attack but I really want to try to wait on the ball that I want. You’ll notice I’m moving him (my opponenet) around, I’m in this crouched position, initiating my four muscles and I’m getting low. Another thing you can see is I’m always hitting the ball out in front of me. He’s doing a good job making me move and I’m making sure I get back up to the non-volley zone every time. We got a rally going. I’m trying to wait for that good opportunity to attack. Trying not to attack every ball.
A lot of the points are one with unforced errors. Do your best to really play the smart shot.
You don’t always want to be on the offense. You really just want to wait for those opportunities and that’s going to help you out in the long run, especially in tournament play.