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Easy Ways to Simplify Your Pickleball Game

by Jason Flamm on

Most sports – pickleball being no exception – can often be stripped down to very simple concepts.

In football, one might be "Score more points than your opponent."

In golf, it's "Drive for show, putt for dough."

They are simple, and sometimes seemingly obvious, but they are also filled with truth.

In pickleball, these Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS) moments exist as well.

Let's explore how to simplify your pickleball game and KISS your way to more victories.

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Every point counts

Obviously, every point counts because the team that scores more points wins the game. Duh, right?

But think about this for a minute.

How many times have you missed a serve, a return, or a third shot – giving your opponent a free point – simply because you weren't focused on the moment?

  • You rush the serve, sailing it long or into the net
  • You line up too far to one side and the server makes you pay for it
  • You let a previous mistake carry over into the next rally, compounding your errors

These are all mental mistakes that cost you points (or the chance for points) during a match.

We all do this – our focus wanes and we forget a simple principle that every point counts.

Fortunately, you can correct this by developing a routine before every play.

Something simple (it's the theme, after all) like:

  • Always bounce the ball twice before you serve
  • Take two deep breaths after a mistake and tell yourself to move on
  • Hold your hand up while you take your position on the return

Routines are used by athletes in every sport, because they work like a trigger to prepare them for what's happening next.

Find your routine and you'll be sure to treat every point like it matters the most.

Force them to hit up so you can hit it down

In war (or during a lightsaber duel) having the high ground is a tactical advantage.

In racquet or paddle sports, you having a ball you can hit down on is the same.

This is because generating more power and force is easier when hitting downward as opposed to upward (with respect to out-of-bounds).

Therefore, when you force your opponent to hit up on the ball (i.e., dinking at their feet or making them reach with their backhand) it gives you the advantage.

This is one of the reasons why playing at the kitchen (or non-volley zone) line as much as possible is an optimal strategy.

Three Mistakes Amateur Pickleball Players Are Most Guilty Of and How To Fix Them
When our resident pro Eric Roddy isn’t competing against the best pickleball players, he’s giving valuable instruction to amateurs looking to get better. He shares the three mistakes he sees most amateurs consistently making and how he fixes them.

Being closer to your opponent removes precious court space for them to hit a ball into. When we're at the baseline or in transition, they have plenty of open space to make us reach, stretch, or run around in.

When you make your opponents move, there's a greater chance they'll pop a ball up or hit a weak shot.

To win more matches, find ways to force your opponents to hit more balls while on the move and you'll find yourself controlling the game.

What is Paddle Tracking and How Can it Make You a Better Pickleball Player?
Paddle tracking is an advanced pickleball skill that hardly anyone talks about, yet all high-level players do it. What is it, and how can it help you play better pickleball?

Get one more ball back over the net

Perhaps the simplest idea of them all is to get one more ball back over the net than your opponent.

Ask any great defender and they'll tell you their goal in moments where they are scrambling around is to force their opponents to hit one more ball. They know that if they can simply get the ball back over the net, then there's a chance their opponent will fail on the next shot and they'll win the rally.

Too many players focus on making a perfect drop or getting the ball to land in too precise of a spot.

Instead, focus on hitting the ball deep rather than short or high.

When you get the ball deep, you're forcing your opponent into a tougher shot and in many cases, giving you an opportunity to get back into the point.

If you're the last player to get a ball over the net (not counting ATPs) in a rally, then you win that rally.

Playing great pickleball doesn't have to be hard. Remind yourself to keep it simple.

When you do, your opponent's mistakes and your Ws will start piling up.

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Jason Flamm

Jason Flamm

Jason is a writer from St. Louis. He’s been a coach in several sports and is currently working on his pickleball coaching certification. He loves to teach and share his passions.

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