As someone who has been playing pickleball for a few years, I’ve seen many beginners make the same mistakes over and over again. While it’s natural to make mistakes when learning a new sport, it’s important to identify and correct them as soon as possible.
In this article, I’ll be sharing the top 11 mistakes that pickleball players make and how to avoid them.
One of the most common mistakes that new players make is failing to understand the non-volley zone, also known as the “kitchen.” Many players step into the kitchen to hit a volley or return a shot, which is a fault.
Another mistake is not moving to the ball. Pickleball is a game of movement, and players need to be constantly on the move to get into the right position to hit the ball.
Another common mistake is overhitting the ball. Many beginners try to hit the ball too hard, which not only makes it harder to control but also increases the chances of hitting the ball out. Instead, focus on hitting the ball smoothly and with control. By avoiding these mistakes, players can improve their gameplay and enjoy the sport even more.
As a pickleball player, it’s important to have a good understanding of the game and its rules. Pickleball is a great and exciting sport that anyone can play. Here are some basics to help you get started:
Pickleball is usually played on a court that is 20 feet wide by 44 feet long, which is the same size as a badminton court. The court is divided into two halves by a net that is 34 inches high at the center. The court is also marked with lines that indicate the boundaries of the playing area, including the non-volley zone, which is a 7-foot area on either side of the net.
The rules of pickleball are, for the most part, simple and easy to learn. The game starts with a serve, which must be made underhand and from behind the baseline. The serve must clear the non-volley zone and land in the opposite service court. After the serve, the ball is in play, and the players must hit it back and forth over the net until one side misses or the ball is hit out of bounds.
One of the most important skills in pickleball is court awareness. This means being aware of where you are on the court and where your opponents are. It’s important to stay out of the non-volley zone unless you are hitting a ball that has bounced. It’s also important to move quickly and efficiently to get to the ball and return it to your opponents.
Pickleball can be played with either two or four players. In doubles play, each side has two players, one at the net and one at the baseline. The player at the net is responsible for hitting volleys and overheads, while the player at the baseline is responsible for hitting groundstrokes and serves.
When playing pickleball, it’s important to remember the basics. Keep your eye on the ball, stay in your ready position, and use proper footwork to move around the court. Use a grip that feels comfortable and lets you hit the ball with power and accuracy. And most importantly, have fun! Pickleball is a super way to stay active and enjoy time with friends and family.
Common Mistakes by New Players
As a pickleball League coach, I have seen many new players make the same mistakes over and over again. Here are the top common mistakes that beginner pickleball players make:
1. Poor Footwork
One of the most common mistakes that new players make is poor footwork. Pickleball is a game of movement, and having good footwork is essential. Many players struggle with footwork, leading to missed shots and lost points. To improve your footwork, focus on proper positioning and practice your split-step.
2. Not Keeping Your Eye on the Ball
Another common mistake that new players make is not keeping their eye on the ball. It’s easy to get distracted by the other player or the surroundings, but it’s important to keep your focus on the ball. This will help you make better shots and avoid missing the ball.
3. Standing Straight Up with Paddle Low by Your Side
Standing straight up with your paddle low by your side is another common mistake new players make. This can lead to poor shot selection and missed opportunities. Instead, focus on maintaining a low center of gravity and keeping your paddle up and ready for action.
4. Not Understanding the Kitchen Rules
The kitchen is a critical part of the pickleball court, and it’s essential to understand the rules that govern it. Many new players struggle with the kitchen rules, leading to lost points and frustration. Take the time to learn the rules and practice your positioning in the kitchen.
5. Overreaching for Shots
Overreaching for shots is another common mistake that new players make. This can lead to poor shot selection and missed opportunities. Instead, focus on positioning yourself well and taking shots that are within your reach.
6. Not Communicating with Your Partner
Communication is critical in pickleball, and many new players have a difficult time with this aspect of the game. It’s important to communicate with your partner and coordinate your shots and movements. This will help you play more effectively as a team and win more points.
7. Technical Errors in Pickleball
As a pickleball player, I know that technical errors can be detrimental to your game. Here are some of the most common technical mistakes that players make:
The serve is one of the most important shots in pickleball, and a poor serve can give your opponent an easy point. Some common mistakes include not hitting the ball hard enough, not getting enough height on the serve, and not following through with your swing. To improve your serve, make sure to practice your technique and focus on getting the ball high and deep into your opponent’s court.
The volley is another crucial shot in pickleball, and a weak volley can put you at a disadvantage. Some common mistakes include:
- Not keeping your paddle in the correct position.
- Not moving your feet to get into position.
- Not following through with your swing.
To improve your volley, practice your footwork and focus on keeping your paddle in the right position.
The return is where you have the opportunity to take control of the point, but an ineffective return can give your opponent the upper hand. Some common mistakes include:
- Not getting into position quickly enough.
- Not using the correct grip.
- Not hitting the ball with enough power.
To improve your return, practice your footwork and focus on using the correct grip and hitting the ball with power.
Footwork is essential in pickleball, and poor footwork can lead to missed shots and points lost. Some common mistakes include not moving quickly enough, not getting into position, and not using the correct footwork for each shot. To improve your footwork, practice moving quickly and efficiently, and focus on using the proper footwork for each shot.
Faults are mistakes made during the game that can result in losing points. Some common faults include hitting the ball in the kitchen before the ball has bounced, hitting the ball out of bounds, or hitting the ball into the net. To avoid faults, stay focused and pay attention to the rules of the game.
In conclusion, technical errors can be detrimental to your game in pickleball. By focusing on improving your serve, volley, return, and footwork and avoiding faults, you can take your game to the next level.
8. Positioning Mistakes on the Court
As a pickleball player, I know that positioning on the court is crucial. Poor court positioning can make it difficult to hit the ball, return the server’s shot, and ultimately score points.
One of the most common mistakes I see players make is standing in the middle of the court. This not only limits their range of motion but also makes it harder to cover the non-volley zone line.
To avoid this mistake, I always try to be aware of where I am on the court. I scoot up to the non-volley zone line when I am serving or returning a serve, and then I move back to the baseline when the ball is in play. This allows me to cover more ground and be in a better position to hit the ball.
Another mistake I see players make is backing off too far from the kitchen line. This is understandable, as players want to avoid getting hit by the ball, but it can be detrimental to their game.
By backing off too far, players give their opponents more time to react and get to the ball. Instead, I use the shuffle step to move forward and stay close to the kitchen line. This allows me to be in a better position to hit the ball and put pressure on my opponents.
Lastly, players often forget about the non-volley zone line. It is important to remember that you can only step into the non-volley zone if you are hitting a ball that has bounced. By staying behind the non-volley zone line, players can avoid making foot faults and give themselves more time to react to the ball.
Overall, proper court positioning is essential in pickleball. You can score more points just by positioning yourself correctly and being aware of where you are on the court, getting to the kitchen, and avoiding backing off too far.
9. Power and Control in Pickleball
As a pickleball player, I understand the importance of having both power and control in my game. While power allows me to hit the ball harder and make it more difficult for my opponent to return, control allows me to place the ball where I want it and increase my accuracy.
One of the best ways to improve power in pickleball is by practicing your swing. Experiment with different techniques, but don’t forget to work on your form and make sure you’re using your legs, following through, and gripping the paddle correctly. Over time, you’ll develop more power and control in your game.
When it comes to smashing balls, it’s important to find the right balance between power and control. Hitting the ball too hard can result in an unforced error, while not hitting it hard enough can give your opponent an opportunity to return it. It’s all about finding the sweet spot where you can hit the ball with enough power to make it difficult for your opponent but still maintain control.
Another common mistake is smashing balls too early. It’s important to wait until the ball is at the right height before attempting a smash. If you try to smash the ball too early, you’ll likely hit it into the net or out of bounds.
Your choice of pickleball paddle can also affect your power and control. Make sure you choose a paddle that is comfortable for you to hold, and that suits your dominant hand. A paddle that is too heavy or too light can affect your swing and make it more challenging to hit the ball accurately.
Accuracy and Ball Placement
Finally, accuracy and placement are key in pickleball. While hitting the ball down the lines can be impressive, it’s not always the most high-percentage shot. Instead, focus on hitting the ball and placing it where your opponent is not. This will increase your chances of winning the point and, ultimately, the game.
10. Strategic Mistakes in Pickleball
As a pickleball player, I understand the importance of strategy in the game. Making the right strategic decisions can make the difference between winning and losing. Here are some of the most common strategic mistakes that pickleball players make:
Lack of Focus
One of the biggest mistakes that players make is losing focus during the game. It’s easy to get distracted by the score or by the actions of your opponents. However, it’s important to stay focused on your own game and to stick to your strategy.
Poor Shot Selection
Another common mistake is poor shot selection. Players often go for the hero shot or try to hit a difficult shot when a normal pace shot would be more effective. It’s important to choose your shots wisely and to hit them with precision.
When playing doubles, players often get into a defensive mindset. They focus on keeping the ball in play rather than going for winners. While keeping the ball in play is important, it’s also important to be aggressive and go for winners when the opportunity arises.
Lack of Movement
Players often get stuck in one spot on the court and fail to move around. This makes it easier for opponents to hit winners and puts the player at a disadvantage. It’s important to move around the court and to be in the right position to hit the ball.
Slow Reaction Time
Pickleball is a fast-paced game, and players need to have quick reaction times. Slow reaction times can lead to missed shots and lost points. It’s important to practice drills that improve reaction time and to be ready for any shot that comes your way.
Ignoring Cross-Court Shots
Cross-court shots are a great way to keep opponents off balance and to hit winners. However, many players ignore this shot and focus only on hitting down the line. It’s important to incorporate cross-court shots into your game and to use them strategically.
Failure to Use Spin Shots
Spin shots can be a great way to throw opponents off balance and hit winners. However, many players fail to use spin shots effectively. It’s important to practice spin shots and to use them strategically to keep opponents guessing.
Poorly Placed Volleys
Volleys are an important part of the game, but many players hit them poorly. They either hit them too hard or too soft, or they hit them right back to their opponents. It’s important to practice volleys and to place them strategically to keep opponents off balance.
Lack of Drills
Practice makes perfect, and many players fail to practice enough. It’s important to practice drills that improve all aspects of your game, including footwork, reaction time, and shot selection.
Ignoring Opponent’s Feet
Many players focus only on the ball and fail to pay attention to their opponent’s feet. This can lead to missed shots and not getting points. It’s important to pay attention to your opponent’s feet and to use this information to anticipate their shots.
By avoiding these strategic mistakes, you can improve your game and also increase your chances of success on the court.
11. Communication and Teamwork Mistakes
As a pickleball player, I’ve seen many instances where a lack of communication and teamwork can lead to lost points. Here are a few common mistakes that players make when it comes to communication and teamwork:
Not communicating with your partner
Communication is key in any doubles game, and pickleball is no exception. One of the most common mistakes that players make is not communicating with their partner. This can lead to confusion and missed opportunities.
For example, if both players go for the same ball, they may end up colliding with each other and missing the shot. It’s important to establish a system of communication with your partner before the game starts so that you both know who will take which shots.
Playing as individuals instead of as a team
Another mistake that players make is playing as individuals instead of as a team. Pickleball is a doubles game, which means that you need to work together with your partner to win.
If one player is dominating the game and not allowing their partner to take any shots, it can create a lot of tension and lead to a “house divided” situation. It’s important to play as a team and support each other throughout the game.
Not adapting to your partner’s playing style
Every player has their own playing style, and it’s important to adapt to your partner’s style in order to play effectively as a team.
For example, if your partner is more comfortable playing at the net, you may need to adjust your playing style and stay back to cover the baseline. It’s important to communicate with your partner and understand what they are good at and what they are not so that you can work together to win the game.
Communication and teamwork are essential components of a successful pickleball game. By avoiding these common mistakes and working with your partner, you can increase your chances of winning and have a better playing experience.
Physical Preparation and Awareness
As a pickleball player, physical preparation and awareness are crucial to avoid making mistakes during the game. Here are some key points to keep in mind:
Eye on the Ball
Keeping your eye on the ball is one of the most important aspects of pickleball. It’s essential to maintain focus on the ball at all times to anticipate its movement and be prepared to hit it back. Not keeping your eye on the ball can result in missed shots, hitting the ball out of bounds, and losing points.
Stretching before a game is essential to prepare your muscles and prevent injury. It’s important to focus on stretching your shoulders, arms, legs, and back. A few simple stretches can make a big difference in your performance and reduce the risk of injury during the game.
Out of Bounds
One common mistake pickleball players make is hitting the ball out of bounds. It’s important to be aware of the boundaries of the court and to aim for shots that will stay within the lines. Hitting the ball out of bounds will result in losing points and giving the advantage to your opponents.
Physical preparation and awareness are crucial to avoiding mistakes during a pickleball game. By keeping your eye on the ball, stretching before the game, and being aware of the boundaries of the court, you can improve your performance and reduce the risk of injury.
As a fun and effective pickleball player, it’s important to be aware of the most common pickleball mistakes and how to avoid them. You can improve how you play and become a better player by avoiding these mistakes.
To summarize, the top 11 mistakes that pickleball players make are:
- Not keeping the ball low
- Hitting the ball too hard
- Not using proper footwork
- Not communicating with your partner
- Playing too far back from the net
- Not being aware of your surroundings
- Not using the right grip
- Not practicing enough
- Not being patient
- Trying to be too fancy
- Not thinking strategically
Focusing on these areas and practicing regularly can make you a more effective and skilled pickleball player. Remember to keep the basics in mind and talk with your partner to ensure a successful game.
Overall, pickleball is an exciting sport that requires skill and strategy. By avoiding these common mistakes, you will enjoy the game and improve your performance on the court. So get out there and have fun playing pickleball!
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I improve my pickleball skills?
Improving your pickleball skills requires practice, patience, and persistence. Here are some tips to help you improve your skills:
- Practice regularly
- Work on your footwork
- Improve your paddle grip
- Focus on your non-dominant hand
- Practice your serves
- Work on your return of serve
- Learn to dink effectively
- Practice your third shot drop
- Improve your overhead smash
- Play with players who are better than you
What are some tips for playing pickleball at an intermediate level?
If you have been playing pickleball for a while and are looking to take your game to the next level, here are some tips:
- Improve your footwork
- Work on your paddle grip
- Practice your serves and return of serve
- Learn to dink effectively
- Work on your third shot drop
- Improve your overhead smash
- Play with players who are better than you
- Learn to anticipate your opponent’s shots
- Improve your communication with your partner
- Practice your shot selection
What are some do’s and don’ts of pickleball?
Here are some do’s and don’ts of pickleball:
- Communicate with your partner
- Move to the non-volley zone line
- Hit the ball at the highest point
- Watch the ball
- Be patient
- Vary your shots
- Practice regularly
- Play with players who are better than you
- Have fun
- Respect your opponents
- Hold the paddle incorrectly
- Do not use your non-dominant hand
- Not move to the non-volley zone line
- Not communicate with your partner
- Do not watch the ball
- Be impatient
- Do not vary your shots
- Not practice enough
- Play with players who are worse than you
- Be disrespectful to your opponents
What are the rules of pickleball?
Pickleball has its own unique set of rules. Here are some of the most important rules:
- The game is played with a paddle and a plastic ball
- The service must be underhand
- The serve must clear the non-volley zone
- The ball must be hit back and forth over the net
- The ball must bounce once on each side before it can be volleyed
- The non-volley zone is a seven-foot area on either side of the net
- The first side to that reaches 11 points, with a two-point lead, wins
- The server must alternate sides after each point
- The receiver must let the serve bounce before returning it
- The ball is out if it lands outside the court lines
Who should avoid playing pickleball?
While pickleball is a low-impact sport, there are some people who should consider whether it is best for them to play pickleball. These include:
- People with joint problems
- People with heart problems
- People with balance issues
- People with vision problems
- People with mobility issues
- People who are pregnant
- People who are recovering from an injury
It is always best to consult your doctor before starting any new exercise program, including pickleball.