While pickleball is easy to play, mastery requires plenty of hard work and practice. If you are looking to up your pickleball game, follow the below tips.
1. Perfect Your Grip
You do not want your paddle to go flying while you are trying to hit the ball. You should thus ensure you and your partner hold your Paddletek pickleball paddles correctly. The best grip for beginners is the continental grip. Simply hold the paddle as if you are shaking its hand.
2. Focus on the Ball
It is tempting to keep your eyes focused on the court so you can properly aim your next shot. Yet, good aim is pointless if you do not actually make contact with the ball.
Always maintain eye contact with the ball. This will increase your chances of actually hitting it. As the ball is approaching, focus on its direction and bounce. If you are really struggling with accuracy, try tracking the ball from the moment it leaves your opponent’s hand.
3. Practice Alone
While you need multiple people to play pickleball, you can practice all by yourself. You do not even need a court. Just use some tape to create a pickleball NVZ line on your garage wall. You can then use the wall to practice your volleys and dinks. This is a particularly great option for those who do not live close to one of the 10,000 pickleball courts nationwide.
Even if you are able to get to a court, you do not have to wait for your pickleball friends to arrive. Start by practicing your serve. Use water bottles or other items to mark different locations on the court. You can then practice your aim by hitting your serve toward each marker.
You can easily practice overhead shots by yourself, as well. Either hit the ball into the air with your paddle or toss it up as high as you can. Then try smashing the ball over, but not into, the net.
4. Stay Synchronized With Your Partner
Once your partner does arrive at the pickleball court, the two of you should practice staying in sync. Many duos position themselves so one person stays at the net while the other hugs the baseline. However, this creates a huge gap in the middle of the court where the opponents can easily hit the ball.
To limit any gaps on your side of the court, you and your partner should move in tandem. Imagine that there is an 8-to-10-foot rope connecting the two of you. You should maintain this distance at all times. That means when one of you moves to the left, the other should do the same. This should give each of you enough room to operate and prevent large areas of empty space on the court.
Communication between partners is key, as well. During practice sessions, develop a simple series of hand signals that you can use to limit confusion. You should also emphasize the importance of verbal communication. Each partner should use words like “mine” or “yours” to signal who is responsible for hitting the ball.
Whoever is not going for the ball should signal whether it is heading in or out of bounds. This way, the hitter can focus on his/her shot and not on whether the ball is out of play.
5. Remain in the Ready Position
You should put your body in the ready position after each shot and before each serve. This way, you will not get caught flat-footed if the ball heads toward you.
To get in the ready position, bend your knees slightly and keep your feet shoulder-width apart. Your upper body and shoulders should be released, and you should put your weight on the balls of your feet.
Whether you play for fun or join a competitive league, the above steps should help you become a pickleball pro. You can then teach others how to play this exciting and growing sport.