Best Pickleball Strategies for Playing Singles

While it’s a specific case, you may be a Pickleball player more adept at doubles games and struggling to improve at singles. The two types of games aren’t mechanically all that different, but the dynamic can feel worlds apart.

While doubles bring in coordination, communication, and teamwork, singles rely on how fast and controlled you are in your technique. Furthermore, your most significant limitation in singles will be yourself. You have to be quick and fit enough to run from end to end in time because you have only one person, you, covering the court. Doubles games can often be won by being smart about your teamwork, but singles games are a massive matter of athleticism and power.

One huge tip we can give you is to up your fitness and exercise routine. Conditioning and circuit training will provide you with the practice you need. There’s an exercise that is unfortunately named a “suicide sprint” that requires you to practice running from end to end and continuously switching your direction. That builds stamina and speed. However, if you’re just getting started, cardio and regular conditioning will do you just fine.

But let’s break down some great Pickleball strategies for singles games. This guide is better suited for players who like to play competitively.

Singles Strategies for Pickleball


You can’t afford to be defensive or get by with your serve in a singles game. The best technique to go offensive with your serve is to get a deep hit in. That will get your opponent running and will get your game off to a great start.

Another tip is to aim for your opponent’s weak side. Typically this would be their backhand, but if you observe your opponent having a weaker forehand, aim for that. Aiming for the centerline may also exploit some of your opponent’s weaknesses.

The consequence of serving soft is that your opponent then gets the advantage of the upper hand. If you do end up going defensive, stay on the centerline and continuously be ready to receive what your opponent will throw at you, especially if it gets on your weak side.

Returning a Serve

The principle of a winning return is similar to that of a winning serve: aim deep. Aiming the ball toward the far corners will get your opponent struggling to keep up.

The convenient thing about this is that if you can maintain control of the ball, you usually don’t have to do much moving. If your opponent is struggling to return your hits, then they’re likely not able to aim as well and will end up mostly hitting the ball towards you. On the other hand, you will be able to stay near the center while giving the opponent a run-around.

Playing Near the Net

Playing near the net usually means you’re on the offensive and ready to get even more aggressive. The best time to do this is once you’ve gotten a deep hit in and your opponent needs time to return it. One of the worst times to get near the net is after you do a weak volley; your opponent will quickly gain the upper hand and will probably go for a deep hit -- which you’ll miss if you’re at the net.

Taller players have a bit of flexibility with this because of their wider reach. Shorter players, however, need to be more selective with their approaches.

The Passing Shot

Let’s say your opponent has moved toward the net in an attempt to go on the offensive. You can still win by going for what we call a “passing shot.” That is a hard and deep shot that aims to be out of your opponent’s reach while they’re at the net.

Passing shots mostly have to be well-aimed; if you want to ensure that your opponent can’t reach the ball, you’ll likely aim for one of the sidelines. But of course, for the ball to be valid, it has to stay within the bounds of the court. Passing shots are much more useful in singles than the typical third shot drop often utilized in doubles.

Additional Tips

While playing fast and hard is a good strategy, it’s not always the name of the game. If you can compensate speed for accuracy, precision, and control, then you’ll surely be hard to beat.

Another simple way to give your opponents a hard time is to keep them guessing. Change up your pace and returns every so often so that they can’t predict how you will hit next.

Choosing Gear for Pickleball Singles

Good Shoes

Before anything else, prioritize having good and trustworthy shoes. Although Pickleball paddles are important, shoes are for your body as much as for the game. Singles games involve running, switching directions, and highly adaptive movement. Good shoes mean lower chances of injury, both short-term or long-term.

 Good Pickleball shoes are more than sneakers. Lateral movement isn’t great for sneakers, so you want flat soles without those ridges and treads. When moving laterally, those ridges can trip you up.


The most significant factors to pay attention to with paddles are their weight and length. Paddles often specialize as either a singles paddle or a doubles one, with singles paddles being longer and heavier. That extra weight and length will assist you with the drives and reaches. Serious players like having paddles dedicated to each form of the game.

Off the bat, some popular paddles are the Engage Encore Blade paddle and Selkirk Amped Maxima paddle.

The Bottomline

Pickleball singles involve lots of stamina, speed, and power. Since you’re covering an entire court by yourself without a partner to rely on, you can imagine how much running you will need to do.

If you’re a beginner, get the hang of controlling the net and remaining on the offense with your deep, well-aimed returns. If you’re a more intermediate player, work on varying your style and becoming an unpredictable opponent to play against.

Even if they feel like different ball games, lots of the skills you learn in singles games are very much applicable to doubles. We hope you’ve learned a lot about getting better at Pickleball singles. Try applying these tips and strategies, and tell us if they helped you!


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