In this blog we’re going to give five tips that can improve your singles game.
This is kind of a different blog. We do a lot of blogs about doubles but this is specifically for singles.
We are going to cover the five tips that are going to improve your singles play.
Maybe you’re just starting out trying to play singles in pickleball or you’ve been playing for a while but these are five great tips that we have for you.
Tip #1 – Weaponize Serve & Return
The very first one is to understand the importance of the serve and the return in singles pickleball.
Like doubles, the serve and and return is very important but it is way more evident in singles. The reason is that there’s a lot more court to cover and with a strong serve and a strong return that can really affect the rest of the point dramatically.
Let’s first start talking about the serve. Just like in doubles pickleball, there are a lot of similarities. A deep serve is key.
Any serve that you serve short or any serve where you’re just trying to get the ball in, that’s not going to put a lot of pressure on your opponents.
It’s more effective to keep that serve deep and keep your opponent hitting from further behind the baseline, as opposed to hitting from inside the court. That’s going to put a lot of pressure on your opponent.
The return is super vital as well. As your opponent is serving and you hit your return, you don’t want to just give them an easy return so that they could hit any kind of third shot they would like.
You want to get that return deep preferably.
The main thing you want to do is make them move for that ball and that will depend on the scenario.
If they’re on the right side you usually will return on the left side and if they’re serving from the left side you’ll usually want to pull the ball way on the other side.
Tip #2 – Get To The Net Early & Often
The second singles tip that we have for you is to come to the net if you can and as often as you can.
There’s going to be some times that you might not be able to make your way to the net and that’s fine. We’re not saying you have to come up every single point but coming up to that net or even in the middle of the court, especially after a return, can apply a lot of pressure on your opponent.
When you’re rallying with your opponent and both of you are at the baseline hitting ground strokes, there’s a lot of time when after you hit the ball you’re waiting for that opponent to hit the ball. A good play for you would be to hit the ball and then come in and rush the net and put a lot of pressure on that opponent.
This is an ideal play especially in the return which you’ll see a lot of the higher level players do. They rarely stay back on the return.
Depending on your mobility and quickness, if you can apply pressure at the net, do so.
It’s going to work wonders in your game and it’s going to really make your opponent have to think about multiple things on how they want to approach their next shot.
Sometimes you may find your return falls a bit short and your opponent ends up having an option of doing many things with the ball. This may happen from time to time. In the end your main goal is to apply pressure and find a way to make your way up to the net.
Tip #3 – Isolate & Breakdown Their Weakness (Often It’s Their Backhand)
The third tip that we have for you for pickleball singles is especially for those of you who are in the intermediate and lower levels of play.
We see pro level players doing this a lot because it puts them in the driver’s seat of a lot of points.
And this tip is to keep the ball to your opponent’s backhand side.
99% of the players that you will play, their forehand will be a much bigger weapon than their backhand.
Think about where you’re serving the ball, you want your opponent to actually return more with their backhand. Also when you’re returning, you want to keep that ball to their backhand side.
This is a big tip.
Even if they slide over to the left a little bit, even if there’s a little bit more room to the forehand side that you could hit to, a lot of times you should just keep pounding that backhand until they miss.
You want to do this because number one, you know that it’s not going to be as strong of a weapon and number two, they’re not going to hurt you as much as if you were to hit them a forehand.
Do your best to try to keep it on their weaker side.
However, there’s times that you’re going to definitely hit it to their stronger side when you have a lot of court open or when you have a really high ball that you could really put a lot of pressure on or put away.
But, for the majority if you could keep it on their weaker side you’re going to see better results throughout the course of the game.
Tip #4 – Make Them MOVE
The fourth tip for pickleball singles is to hit where they’re not.
It’s really important that after and before you hit that you’re keeping an eye out where your opponent is on the court at all times.
You should know where your opponent is at least coming from so that you know where to hit your next ball.
Being aware of where your opponent is at is super important so that you could hit to where they’re not.
What that’s going to do is it’s going to make them move.
If they’re already way on the right side of the court you’re not going to hit it all the way on the right side of the court so that they’re just going to be stationary and hit that ball.
You want to always constantly make them move.
If they’re on the right side you’re going to hit it way on the left side. If they’re on the left side you’re going to try to make them run to the right side.
This is really important in making them move and it will tire them out.
It’s a smart play when you are playing singles.
In doubles it’s a lot different because you have two players that are covering their side of the court. But in singles, you have the whole court available to you.
It can be really hard at times to do that but any little advantage that you can gain is a bonus.
If you see them leaning a little bit to the right or seeing them leaning a little bit to the left just hit it the opposite way.
This is going to gain you a lot of points and that can add up to you winning a match.
Tip #5 – Hit & RECOVER
The fifth and final tip for singles pickleball is to hit and recover.
What we mean by that is whether you’re hitting a serve, a return, third shot, fourth shot or any shot, you want to hit that ball and recover to the middle of the court.
Why is this?
If you stay to one side then the whole court is available to your opponent every time.
Every shot you hit in singles, regardless of where you are on the court (ex. Even at the non-volley zone line), you’re always going to recover to the middle. You’ll do the same thing at the baseline.
Example: Both you and your opponent are at the baseline and you hit down the line, you’re going to go recover to the middle of the court so you can cover your next shot.
By doing the above you give less options to your opponent and it puts you in a better position to cover that next ball.
In doubles we only play pretty much half of our side so we generally don’t do this.
But, when you start playing singles, since you have to play the whole court, make sure you hit and it’s in your mind that you recover to the middle.
We hope you enjoyed all these tips.
These are definitely going to help you out in your singles pickleball game and wherever you are in your journey of playing singles.
Singles is a great game. It’s definitely a lot different than doubles but a lot of aspects are the same and hopefully these tips help you out and you find them beneficial.