How To Win Pickleball: A Beginner’s Guide to Pickleball Strategy

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 fastAV 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.

Pickleball Court

If you’re not familiar with how the Pickleball court works yet, now’s a good time to learn. It’s the same size as a badminton court--at 44 feet by 20 feet and a centerline and two baselines. The net sits 36 inches high, which is 3 feet.

A service area is a rectangle measuring 15 by 10 feet. There is a 7-foot wide area on each side of the net called the non-volley zone. All the lines marking the boundaries are typically 2 inches wide.

Basic Pickleball Rules and Strategy

The game starts with a coin toss to see which team serves first. Serves have to be done diagonally in reference to the service areas. That means if you’re serving, the ball has to hit your rectangle first and then cross the net and centerline to bounce on the rectangle diagonal to you.

Several faults can be counted. Still, the main ones would be: failing to land the ball diagonally, allowing the ball to hit the net, hitting from the no-volley zone, allowing the ball to bounce twice during a return, touching the outer boundaries, and the ball getting out of bounds. There are several other service faults, but they are more specific.

If the serving team causes the fault, they lose the serve. But if the receiving team causes it, the serving team gains a point.

 The minimum number of points needed to win is 11. However, there has to be a point differential of at least 2. If a team reaches 11 points but is only ahead by 1 point, the game will continue.

Serving Rules

Pickleball is a game that revolves around its serves. Keep in mind that only the serving team will have the chance to score a point. If you get a fault from your serve, in singles, your opponent automatically gets to serve.

In doubles, you have two serving chances, one for each partner. For doubles, the server will always be on the right side of their court. Partners switch positions regularly to maintain this.

As of January 25 of 2020, the ball is allowed to bounce before it reaches your opponent. Similar to ping-pong, the double bounce rule applies. Upon return, the ball should only bounce once.


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.

Hits and Returns

While serves are your foundation in Pickleball, knowing how to return hits well will multiply your chances of scoring a point. Unlike other sports, you have to control how much strength you put into your hit. Prioritize pace over power.

Deep hits, or those that push the ball far, will also push your opponent back towards their baseline. With this good strategy, you can easily catch your opponent off guard and try to score a hit closer to the net.

It’s also a good idea to practice different hits from different positions on the court so that your opponent is continually struggling to gain control.

Keeping Position

Whether you’re in singles or doubles, try to equally cover your side of the court as much as possible. That means always returning to your centerline in between hits.

Pickleball Game Strategies

The basics of Pickleball aren’t far off from tennis, ping-pong, and badminton. There’s a court, racquets, and a ball that has to be passed back and forth over a net between opposing players or teams. Since it can be played by doubles and singles, we’ll break down some basic strategies for you.

Singles

As you may have guessed, a singles game means you’re playing solo. You have the entire side of your court to cover, so be ready to react quickly.

One key thing about Pickleball is controlling your serves and hits. You want to create long strokes but still reign in the force you apply. Hit the ball back far enough to force your opponent back. To prepare for the return strike, it’s good practice to go back to the center line so you can move left or right more easily.

Doubles

A doubles game means each team has exactly two players. Make sure you can maintain proper communication with your partner. To excel at doubles, you have to cover your partner’s weakness and know your opponent’s.

Move with your partner so that you’re always covering the court equally. You don’t want any large gaps in between you or on either side of you. Leaving large unguarded spaces is a sure way for your opponent to score. You also don’t want to keep bumping into each other or occupying each other’s spaces. To further complement each other, you should try to find some shot variations. That will break down your opponent’s defenses.

Extra Level-Up Tips

Are you already confident with the basic rules and mechanics? We’ve got a few more simple yet powerful tips that you ought to know.

Warm-up with strafing from left to right and front to back. It’s useful to practice these movements so that when it comes down to the game, you’re not tripping over your feet while trying to rush.

Start with a quick warm-up. It will get you on your feet and keep you on your toes. Pickleball can quickly get intense, so you don’t want to hurt yourself in the process.

Find good shoes. Tennis shoes are a safe bet for Pickleball. Good shoes mean you’ll comfortably be able to run around without hurting your feet.

Get Playing

That’s all the basic strategy and tips we have for you. More in-depth stuff will require you to get off the internet and practice the sport. Remember, Pickleball, like most sports, is a skill. Practice will take you far. Just remember to have fun with it!


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