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Five Mistakes Tennis Players Make in Pickleball

by Jason Flamm on

Hello, tennis players, and welcome to pickleball – the best sport in the world.

We’re glad you decided to join us. With so many of you hopping on the pickle wagon lately, we thought it might be fun and helpful to create content just for you.

This is all about mistakes you might make as you transition from tennis to pickleball.

Mistake 1: You are too powerful

On a bigger court, power can cover many mistakes. In pickleball (where up to four pickleball courts can fit on one tennis court), placement instead of power is often better. Smashing a drive may work out sometimes, but you’ll want to develop a finesse game as soon as possible. 

If you want to succeed in pickleball – especially doubles pickleball — work on your drop shots and use your drive more sparingly. 

A good rule of thumb is “When at the baseline, let it rip. If not, drop it.”

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Mistake 2: You swing too big 

Similar to limiting your power, you’ll also want to reduce the size of your swing. Tennis players often have a big, looping backswing. Again, you’ll get away with it sometimes. But, as you progress in pickleball and move up in levels, that big swing will cause you more trouble. 

A big swing will lead to hitting more out balls, but it also causes you to not be in a good position for the next shot. In tennis, after you hit the ball, you typically have enough time to recover before it comes back. In pickleball, there are times when your opponent is only 14 feet away from you. 

This means the ball will come back almost immediately, and if your paddle is not up, you’ll pay for it.

Mistake 3: You think kitchen play is silly

Even if you don’t think it’s silly, you probably don’t quite understand kitchen (or non-volley zone) play in pickleball. Without getting too in the weeds and discussing rules and why it’s called the kitchen, you must first understand that it’s a huge part of the sport.

Typically, it’s understood that the team that gets to the kitchen more often is most likely to win. 

Watch videos and read articles to understand kitchen play better and learn how to get there as early in the point as possible.

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Eventually, you’ll start to see and understand the advantages. Disregard it completely and suffer the consequences.

Mistake 4: Your volleys are all wrong

One of our favorite pickleball content creators, John Cincola, explains this well. 

In the video, he discusses how tennis players are taught to:

  • Have an open face
  • Swing high to low 
  • Step into your shot

For pickleball, each of those is wrong.

Instead, you want:

  • No step
  • A square paddle face
  • A square motion through the ball
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As you progress in your pickleball journey, you’ll learn when and how to use different spin in your shots. However, as you transition, think of hitting your shots more squarely and through the ball. 

Mistake 5: You get stuck in your feels

No, we’re not talking about emotions here. Instead, we are referring to the feel of the paddle. In tennis, you’re taught to keep your racquet head up with a strong wrist position. Again, you can get away with this in pickleball, but it’s not ideal.

Instead, you’ll want your paddle tip down, below the hand. It’ll feel weird, but it’ll make your transition way smoother.

Good luck out there.


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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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