How to Get Better at Pickleball: Tips and Techniques for Players of All Levels

Pickleball is a dynamic and exciting sport that has been growing in popularity over the years. Whether you’re a beginner, intermediate, or advanced player, there’s always room for improvement.

In this blog post, we’ll discuss tips and techniques to help you up your game, covering everything from the basics to advanced strategies and tactics.


Pickleball combines elements of tennis, badminton, and table tennis, making it a unique and engaging racquet sport. With its increasing popularity, players of all skill levels are looking for ways to improve their game and enjoy the sport even more. This guide will provide valuable insights and practical tips to help you become a better pickleball player.

Basics of the Game

Before diving into specific techniques and strategies, let’s start by covering the essentials of pickleball.

Equipment Needed

To play pickleball, you’ll need the following equipment:

  • A pickleball paddle
  • A perforated plastic ball (specifically designed for pickleball)
  • A pickleball court with a net

Rules and Scoring System

Pickleball can be played as singles or doubles, with players hitting the ball back and forth over the net. Points are scored when the opposing team fails to return the ball within the court boundaries or commits a fault. Games are typically played to 11 points, with a win by at least two points.

Common Terminology

Understanding the language of pickleball is essential for effective communication on the court. Some common terms include:

  • Dink: A soft shot that lands in the opponent’s non-volley zone, also known as the kitchen
  • Volley: Hitting the ball in the air without letting it bounce
  • Non-volley zone (NVZ): The seven-foot area extending from the net on both sides of the court, also known as the kitchen

Fundamental Techniques

Mastering the basics is crucial for building a strong foundation in pickleball. Here are some key techniques to focus on:


There are three main grips used in pickleball: Eastern, Western, and Continental. Each grip has its advantages and disadvantages, so it’s essential to find the one that works best for you.

  • Eastern grip: Suitable for forehand groundstrokes and dinks
  • Western grip: Offers more topspin but can be challenging for backhands and volleys
  • Continental grip: Versatile grip suitable for all shots, including serves, volleys, and groundstrokes


Proper footwork is crucial for maintaining balance and positioning during rallies. Key aspects of footwork include:

  • Lateral movement: Side-to-side movement is essential for covering the court effectively
  • Split-step: A small hop that helps you quickly change direction and react to your opponent’s shot
  • Positioning: Being in the right place at the right time allows you to hit more effective shots


Developing a consistent and powerful swing is vital for executing various shots in pickleball. Focus on the following swings:

  • Forehand: The most common shot in pickleball, using the dominant side of your body
  • Backhand: A shot executed with the non-dominant side of your body, requiring good technique and wrist control
  • Overhead: A high-contact shot used for smashing lobs or high balls


The serve is the first shot of each point and sets the tone for the rally. Key aspects of serving include:

  • Underhand serve: The only legal serve in pickleball, where the paddle must be below the wrist and waist during contact
  • Power serve: A fast and aggressive serve aimed at putting pressure on the receiver
  • Placement: Accurately placing your serves can disrupt your opponent’s rhythm and create openings for attack

Return of Serve

The return of serve is crucial for establishing control in a rally. Focus on these types of returns:

  • Deep returns: Hitting the ball deep into your opponent’s court forces them to hit from a less advantageous position
  • Attacking returns: Aggressive returns that put pressure on the server, often targeting their weaker side
  • Defensive returns: Returns focused on neutralizing the server’s advantage and extending the rally

Advanced Strategies and Tactics

Once you’ve mastered the fundamentals, it’s time to explore advanced strategies and tactics to gain an edge over your opponents.

Shot Selection

Being able to execute a variety of shots will keep your opponents guessing and give you more opportunities to win points. Key shots include:

  • Drop shots: Soft shots that land close to the net, forcing your opponent to move forward
  • Lobs: High, arcing shots that go over your opponent’s head, pushing them back to the baseline
  • Drives: Powerful, low-trajectory shots that put pressure on your opponent
  • Angles: Shots hit with precision to the corners of the court, making it difficult for your opponent to reach

Court Positioning

Smart court positioning can give you a significant advantage during rallies. Key aspects of court positioning include:

  • Offensive positioning: Moving closer to the net allows you to hit more aggressive volleys and putaway
  • Defensive positioning: Staying back near the baseline enables you to cover more ground and defend against powerful shots
  • Transitioning: Moving smoothly between offensive and defensive positions is vital for maintaining control during rallies

Doubles Strategies

Doubles play requires excellent communication and teamwork. Key doubles strategies include:

  • Communication: Verbally and non-verbally communicating with your partner ensures you’re both on the same page
  • Partner chemistry: Developing a strong understanding of your partner’s strengths and weaknesses allows you to play more effectively as a team
  • Stacking: A strategy where partners position themselves on the court based on their strengths, often used to keep a stronger player at the net

Multimedia Examples

To further illustrate proper technique and execution, consider referencing photos and video clips that demonstrate key concepts. Additionally, analyzing professional matches can provide valuable insights into advanced strategies and tactics.

Practical Drills and Practice Tips

Consistent practice is essential for improvement. Here are some drills and tips to help you make the most of your practice sessions:

Solo Drills

  • Wall practice: Hitting the ball against a wall helps develop consistency and control
  • Target practice: Set up targets on the court to work on shot placement and accuracy
  • Footwork drills: Practice lateral movement, split-steps, and positioning to improve your agility and court coverage

Partner Drills

  • Dinking: Soft, controlled rallies near the net to develop touch and finesse
  • Volley exchanges: Fast-paced volleys with a partner to improve reaction time and hand-eye coordination
  • Serve/return practice: Alternating serving and returning with a partner to work on both aspects of the game

Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Being aware of common mistakes can help you avoid them during practice and match play. Some examples include:

  • Hitting shots too hard or too soft: Focus on control and consistency rather than power
  • Poor footwork: Work on lateral movement and positioning to ensure you’re always in the right place to hit effective shots
  • Not communicating with your doubles partner: Develop clear communication signals and always discuss strategy before and during matches

Tips for Effective Practice Sessions

  • Set specific goals for each practice session
  • Warm-up properly before starting drills or match play
  • Allocate time for both solo and partner drills
  • Review and analyze your performance to identify areas for improvement

Motivation and Mindset

Maintaining a positive mindset and staying motivated is crucial for long-term improvement in pickleball. Consider these tips:

  • Set realistic goals and track your progress
  • Overcome plateaus by seeking feedback from coaches or experienced players
  • Stay engaged and passionate about the sport by participating in local leagues, tournaments, or social events


Improving your pickleball skills requires dedication, practice, and a willingness to learn from both successes and setbacks. By focusing on the fundamentals, advanced strategies, and practical drills outlined in this guide, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a better player. Most importantly, remember to enjoy the game and have fun on the court!

About the author

John's love for pickleball began when his wife bought him a set for Christmas one year. He quickly became obsessed with the game, and now plays several times a week.

John loves nothing more than spending an afternoon on the court with friends, whacking balls back and forth.

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