Have you ever met a person who says pickleball isn’t for them? I know it’s rare, but it happens.
When someone is playing for the first time it’s important to show them a good time.
They won’t be able to hit picture-perfect drops and dinks off the bat. Chances are most of their shots will be popups you will have to resist the urge to smash.
To show a new player the best time I have found it to be most effective to challenge them with slow attacks.
- Send over a half-baked attack at 40% speed
- Let them experience the thrill of a firefight
- Give them a chance to win the point
The quick exchange of blows 14 feet apart is one of the most addicting parts of the game. Even if they lose a firefight they’re left craving the next one.
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We're not saying to abandon the fundamentals and turn the game into volleyball, just that those points with beginners can get a little boring. You're playing not to win, they're still not sure what they should be doing.
Let them make their way to the kitchen line and get some dinks in. But instead of tapping the ball back 100 times until they make a mistake, bring a little excitement into the exchange.
If they lose with a dink error into the net for the tenth time they’ll want to launch your paddle into the sky and take up bowling. It can be frustrating to lose point after point in the soft game.
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Obviously, they’ll have to learn the nuances of the game before releasing them into the wild. But a good first day on the courts creates a lifetime player. If things are getting dull on day one try artificially inserting a few extra firefights.
More tips for playing with beginners
- Make sure to give them an easy, returnable serve - no one likes being shut-out by aces. Also, it gives you an opportunity to work on placing your serve in different spots.
- A lot of new players (especially those who played tennis) will try to stand at the baseline at never come to the kitchen. Explain to them the advantage of court position in pickleball.
- A lot of their shots will come off their paddle a lot slower than you're used to. Use this as a chance to practice your patience in getting to and hitting balls with good form.
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