19 Pickleball Tips for Beginners

19 Pickleball Tips for Beginners

When you start playing pickleball, it takes a while to build up a great strategy and strong pickleball game. Anytime you learn something new, it can all be a bit overwhelming. Through our time playing pickleball and encouraging new players to join us, we’ve come up with a list of 19 of our best pickleball tips for beginners.

1. Have An Understanding of Pickleball Rules 

A lot of new pickleball players are just excited to get on the court and start playing, and we can’t blame them. It’s perfectly fine to play around on the pickleball court, get a feel for the space, and become comfortable with the pickleball paddle. But you really shouldn’t wait too long before taking a deep dive into the official pickleball rules

Some important pickleball rules that you want to quickly familiarize yourself with include:

2. Avoid Common Beginner Pickleball Mistakes 

Avoid Common Beginner Pickleball Mistakes 

Admittedly, this is a bit of a general tip for beginner pickleball players, but it is really important to understand the most common mistakes that many newcomers to the game find themselves making. It’s equally important to understand why they make them. 

For example, understanding the nuances of the non-volley zone. Many new players either shy away from the kitchen completely or attempt to play the entire match from the zone. Moving up past the non-volley line immediately after hitting a shot can be a defensive move that puts you in the position to return a difficult shot to your opponent. However, you also need to recognize that it’s necessary to move out of the kitchen once your opponents start hitting harder, deeper shots your way. 

Another common beginner mistake is putting too much effort into mastering complicated shots before really building confidence in their game. Trying a complicated shot just for the sake of being fancy usually fails and gives the advantage to your opponent. Instead, save the complex maneuvers for when you become one of the more advanced players, and stick to just the basics for now. 

3. Find a Paddle You Love 

Find a Paddle You Love 

Your pickleball paddle is your partner on the court, and it’s really important to find a paddle that you love. 

There are different types of pickleball paddles, including wood, composite, and graphite pickleball paddles. Composite paddles are becoming more popular because many players feel that they make it easier to hit the ball with a bit of spin. 

Still, while materials matter, there are other important factors to consider, like the weight of the paddle and the grip. You want a pickleball paddle that feels good in your hand, that feels natural when you swing it. 

Weighted can be good, but you also want to remember that you’re going to be carrying this paddle around and swinging it the entire time that you’re on the pickleball court. If you have issues with your wrists or grip, a lighter paddle is better. Heavier paddles make it easier to hit those hard shots deep into your opponent’s court, but lighter paddles provide better overall control. 

4. Get a Good Pair of Pickleball Shoes 

Get a Good Pair of Pickleball Shoes 

Just like with any sport, having the right pair of shoes matters. A good pair of pickleball shoes will provide traction, give you stability on the court, and even improve your reaction time. There are great pickleball shoes for just about any foot, including those that need arch support, have wide feet, and those that need extra stability control. 

5. Consider Gloves, Visors, and Other Pickleball Apparel 

Consider Gloves, Visors, and Other Pickleball Apparel 

Shoes aren’t the only type of pickleball apparel that’s worth considering when you start playing pickleball. If you’re playing on outdoor pickleball courts, a visor or hat can be your best friend. There’s nothing worse than trying to play pickleball but finding yourself missing the shot because you were blinded by the sun. 

Some players also prefer to wear gloves when they play. This can help improve your grip, especially if the grip size on your pickleball paddle is a bit small. Pickleball gloves can also help prevent hand fatigue, which is something that’s more common with new players. 

6. Realize That Pickleball Requires Different Strategy Than Tennis 

Pickleball vs Tennis

If your interest in tennis is what lead you to pickleball, it’s important to realize that the two games aren’t the same and that they require different strategies and techniques. We only mention this because there are many pickleball players that come to the game with a history of playing tennis

Take time to “deprogram” yourself from tennis. Get familiar with the pickleball court instead of the tennis court, and work on feeling comfortable with the different paddles, different shots, and different strategies you need to play this game. 

7. Stretch To Warm Up

Stretch To Warm Up

Safety first, as they always say, and taking a few minutes to warm up with some stretches can not improve your flexibility and stability on the court. It can also help prevent injuries – especially as your body is getting accustomed to pickleball movements. 

8. Stand In the Proper Position 

Stand In the Proper Position 

One of the most common pickleball mistakes that a beginning pickleball player makes is not standing in the ready position by the time the opponent hits the ball. As soon as you hit the ball across the net, you want to position yourself to receive the ball immediately. 

The ready position involves standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, your knees slightly bent, and shoulders up. You want your weight to be on the balls of your feet so that you roll and transition easily into movement. Ideally, you want to use your dominant hand to grip the paddle, and the paddle should be aligned with the middle of your upper body. 

This is the basic ready position, and it’s one that will suit most players well, especially as they’re learning pickleball. However, there are other positions that a more experienced player might choose, but for beginners, the standard ready position is best. 

9. Understand The Power of Your Stroke 

Understand The Power of Your Stroke 

This beginning pickleball player tip is for those of you with a history of playing tennis. You don’t always have to hit the ball with as much power in pickleball as you do with tennis. For one thing, the pickleball court is smaller, so you don’t need that much “oomph,” even if you’re going for a power stroke. The switch from tennis to pickleball usually requires a period of adjustment. 

Additionally, hitting the ball too hard also means that your opponent is more likely to hit it hard, right back at you, even if that isn’t their strategy. 

10. Hit Deep

Hit Deep

While you don’t always want to go at the ball with a Hulk-powered stroke, it is a smart strategy to hit the ball hard enough that it goes deep into your opponent’s service court– except when your strategy is to play a soft game and land the ball closer to the net. 

The advantage to hitting the ball deep is that it keeps your opponents positioned toward the back of their court, giving you an advantage on their return serve. 

11. Know Your Opponent’s Weakness 

Know Your Opponent's Weakness 

As a new pickleball player, you have weaknesses of your own that you need to learn how to overcome, but the chances are that your opponent has a weakness or two of their own. A great pickleball strategy for beginners is to look for those weak spots and play them as best as you can. 

For instance, you might have an opponent that prefers to play on the right side of the court and naturally gravitates there because it’s their dominant hand. Aiming for the left side of the court gives you an advantage. Often these weaknesses are minor details that you really need to pay attention to pick up on.

12. Aim for Open Areas 

Aim for Open Areas 

One way to look like a pickleball pro on the court, even if you’re new to the game, is to aim your shots for open areas on the opponent’s court. Even if you’re playing doubles, they can’t keep all of the court covered, so those open spots are key to scoring a point. 

13. Don’t Try To Master Too Much at Once 

Don't Try To Master Too Much at Once 

This rule is simple, but it’s so important. Don’t try to learn all of the different types of shots at once. Don’t worry about adding spin to the ball just yet. For that matter, don’t even worry about scoring a point or winning a game, at least the first few times you play. 

Start with the basics. Master a good cross-court shot, know the kitchen rule like it’s second nature, feel comfortable with how you move on the court and learn how to follow the ball for an effective return shot. The rest will come with time and practice. 

14. Steer Clear of the Non-Volley Zone Unless You Intend To Use It 

 non volley zone in pickleball?

The non-volley zone is an area of the pickleball court that extends seven feet on both sides of the net. The rules state that you can’t volley the ball inside the kitchen. This prevents players from playing too close to the net and encourages more strategic gameplay. 

There’s nothing wrong with playing in the kitchen, as long as you’re there to hit a ground shot. Most pickleball pros would agree that it’s not a strategic move to hang out in the kitchen. In fact, many call it “no man’s land.” When you play in the kitchen or up against it, you’re leaving the deep court completely open, but you’re also more likely to volley a shot that comes your way out of pure reflex. 

So, stay back away from the kitchen unless you move into it to make a ground stroke after letting the ball bounce once. It’s also a good idea to stay back away from the kitchen line because the forward momentum from making a shot can propel you into the kitchen unintentionally. 

15. Don’t Overplay the Third Shot 

Don't Overplay the Third Shot 

The third shot is a critical point in a pickleball match. If you’re unfamiliar with the third shot, it’s when the ball has been served and then returned by the receiving team so that the next shot is back in the server’s court. 

There’s a tendency to smash the third shot hard, completely overplaying it. More often than not, this strategy leads to a fault and losing the serve to the next player in the service rotation. 

16. Keep the Lob on the Back Burner 

Keep the Lob on the Back Burner 

The lob shot, which involves hitting the ball high and deep, is important for a power game, but it’s overused, especially by pickleball beginners. Constantly lobbing the ball makes your pickleball strategy predictable, which is s weakness in the game. You don’t need a huge shot selection when you first start playing pickleball but don’t rely on the lob as your only go-to.

17. Don’t Crowd Your Partner 

Don't Crowd Your Partner 

If you’re playing doubles, give your partner some room to play. Don’t crowd next to them or block their play. Also, good communication with your doubles partner is a must. Call your shots and communicate throughout the game to make sure you’re on the same page.  

18. Be Aware of the Elements When Playing Outside 

Be Aware of the Elements When Playing Outside

Playing outside is completely different from playing on an inside court. You’re dealing with wind, changes in cloud cover/sun, and a different type of court. You need to adjust your game to compensate for these challenges. Also, on a warm day, you’re more likely to overheat on an outdoor court, so make sure you have lots of hydration! 

19. Cool Down After a Match 

. Cool Down After a Match 

Our final tip is to not forget to cool down after you play pickleball. A cool-down period is just as important in pickleball as it is in any other sport of physical activity. You might choose to stretch a little, walk around the court a couple of times, or just very casually hit the ball back and forth in a more relaxed manner for a bit before leaving the court. 

Have Fun While Learning Pickleball Strategies 

Most important is to remember to have fun while you’re learning the game of pickleball and building up your skills in the game. These are just a few pickleball tips to help you get started, but we’re here to help you improve your game every step of the way. 

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