Pickleball Technique

The easiest stroke is the pendulum swing, which consists of a straight arm and wrist, and moves from the shoulder hinge. This works for both forehands and backhands. The continental grip can be used for both shots. Remember these three hints:

  1. Pendulum Swing

2. Hit out in front

3. Follow-through

If you can focus on those key points you will make less unforced errors.


Pickleball Scoring

The first server begins the game serving from the right. You get one, underhand serve, struck below the waist, wrist dropped, out of the air, without a bounce and it must land in the box beyond the kitchen line. The side and baseline are in play on the serve.

If the first server wins the point, then the next serve is hit from the left side of the court to the right. If the first server loses a point, the other team gets two serves (server one and server two), with the first server always starting from the right. If the first server faults, the second server serves from the “other side” and continues serving until the serving team loses a rally or faults a serve.

The score is always said, serving team first, then receiving team, then server number. When the second server faults or loses the rally, a “side out” occurs and the other team will begin serve from the right, with the player who had last returned on the right side of the court.

Make note at the beginning of each game, who started serving. If the points scored for “your team” (always said first) are even it is the first server’s serve from the right side. If the score is odd it is the left side of the court for the first server. If you are the second server then the reverse would be true, the score would be odd serving from the right and even serving from the left. This will help with keeping the correct score and serving side.

No volleying in the kitchen is allowed. This means no stepping in after the shot or not having both feet outside the the kitchen and grounded before the volley is struck. Going in the kitchen to hit a ball that bounces there is okay and needed! Players may stand in the kitchen at any time without faulting as long as no volley is struck there.

Typically matches are played, two out of three sets, first to 11 points, by a margain of two points.

Tennis Doubles Angles

“Inside-out volley” and the “Outside-in volley.” Two great ways to finish the “sitter” at the net when you have your opponent’s in a one up, one back situation.

Do you ever say to yourself, whoops I should not have hit that right back to the opponent when facing the opposing baseline returner? If you are standing at the net facing the deuce box and your partner has served a ball in which the opposing receiver hits a sitting duck to your forehand volley, angle the shot off to your right, over the lowest part of the net, passing by the receiver’s partner in the add box. If you hit your target the point is over, and you are headed in the same direction as your shot, so you can finish with another volley if needed. I call this “turning the ball inside out.” As a doubles player you have to have this shot to effectively finish off your opponent. There is always a ton of ways to win a point with a shot. This one has the most favorable percentage. If the opponent hits the return to your backhand volley (forehand volley for a lefty), and it is a “sitting duck” then your should volley the return between the receiver’s partner at the service line and the receiver, “down the middle.” This is effectively an “outside in” volley. The same process is executed when you are facing an add court returner. In summary remember this–“inside volleys turn out and outside volleys turn in.”

Pickleball Strategy and Shot Making

I have recently joined the International Pickleball Teaching Professional Association (I.P.T.P.A.) which is a highly accredited organization. Soon I will be attending a workshop and testing session held in New Canaan Ct. Here are basic tips that players should know based upon sound percentages and error free logic.

  1. Learn the dink game first, in the no volley zone. Start small.
  2. Short backswing from low to high, using a continental grip (or extreme grips) for more advanced players coming over from tennis.
  3. Feel the grip and ball lightly, avoiding a death grip.
  4. Keep shots as simple flat shots until spin is mastered.
  5. Movement is mostly side to side at NVZ and baseline. Avoid cross over steps as it’s difficult to control shots. Use the crossover when out of reach. good position is key to good shot execution.
  6. Contact out in front and accelerate through contact.
  7. Get ready quickly (ready position) after each shot.
  8. Have your paddle up at chest height in ready position.
  9. Avoid hitting the net.
  10. Serve the ball middle to deep, and avoid faulting out.
  11. Return deep, preferably to the backhand of the opponent.
  12. The receiver should approach off the return of serve, since the server has to let the return bounce! The receiver’s partner should line up in the NVZ.
  13. Once you get to the net, keep the other team back, and hit your volleys deep. Give yourself plenty of court when hitting deep. Don’t aim for the lines.
  14. Choose selecting the right shot to approach on. It should be low in the NVZ.
  15. Dinking the ball should make up most of your shot selections. Develop patience in the NVZ.
  16. Put away balls that are about one foot above the net.
  17. The primary goal is to be defensive, forcing your opponent to go for a winner too soon.
  18. Playing the ball “down the middle,” solves the riddle. Hit to open space between your opponents.
  19. Hit the ball to your opponent’s feet when you receive an “up ball.”
  20. Move as a team following the ball.
  21. Hold the NVZ as a team. After hitting a smash (sideways to the net, point and smack!) return to the NVZ.
  22. Communicate: me, you, switch, back, up, out, etc. Strategize between points (quickly).
  23. Stay positive and supportive of your partner.
  24. When both up at the NVZ, the forehand down the middle should take a little more of the middle shots (12-18 inches).

Ten Tennis Mixed Doubles Tips

  1. If you are much stronger than the other players on the court and you are playing “social tennis,” take some pace off your shots so you all can have fun. That doesn’t mean, don’t try. It means, try to make the game fun!
  2. The man of the team should not hog all the shots in the game, just so you can win. It’s a team sport. If the woman doesn’t hit her fair share of shots during the match, she won’t have a feel for the ball when she is forced to hit a shot. This also applies to a woman who has a weaker man partner. Again. If it is a competitive match, winning becomes the priority and the amount of shots hit go in favor of the stronger player.
  3. The stronger player should serve first on the team. If you don’t do this, your team could be down love two and this isn’t a great way to start the score board.
  4. The stronger player should play the add side of the court in regular scoring games. Close games are decided in the add box.
  5. The stronger player should direct a team’s strategy without creating confusion or delay with his or her partner. Typically the weaker partner already is nervous and has enough self made pressure. A good partner will relax the weaker player using encouragement and confidence. The stronger player can coach on positioning but has to be careful with over-coaching.
  6. No player should blast a ball at an opponent, especially when a player is left defenseless by an easy “set up.” Instead, place the ball to an opening on the court, this avoiding possible injury to an opponent. This also creates respect for the player who has the set up. It shows proper tennis etiquette.
  7. Getting the first serve in greatly improves the chances of holding serve in mixed doubles. Many times a team will break the weaker server only to have their own weaker server broken. This creates an “on break” rotation during the match. Getting that first serve in will help prevent your team from being broken.
  8. Make sure you do not try to “kill” easy serve returns. Get that ball back in play with a percentage shot. Moving in to receive, shortening up on the grip, and taking extra steps will assist a player in returning sliced, knuckle ball, and off pace serves. Since they are seldom practiced they become a sore spot for even the stronger player who is “playing down.”
  9. Consider playing both back against a really tough server. This gives the receiving team more time to defend the court and makes the serving team have to play more shots. This strategy can help the receiving team break the toughest player on the court! Just one break in a tie break can help  win a set or the match.
  10. Find the best positioning strategy based upon what your partner can do and what you can do. Focus on adapting to your partner, rather them making them conform to an ideal which may not be possible for them. Balancing your team’s strengths and weaknesses is the best way to “play your best” as a team!

Ten Tennis Doubles Strategies

  1. Get your first serve in. This takes away the big drive killer return and your partner will be most appreciative.
  2. Serve to the T (middle) in the deuce service box and to the body in the add box. This takes away more shot selections (angles and alleys) from your opponent and sets up your partner at the net for easier poaching opportunities.
  3. Return of serves should be hit low and away from the net man, high and cross court away from the net player, down the ally, at the net player (hard), or lobbed over the net man. Hit low and away against net rushing server while mixing in different returns to keep the server out of timing. You may also use the return of serve as an approach shot, chip and charge style or drive and charge. If you can make the server hit up the point will shift to your favor.
  4. Make up your mind if you are going to serve and volley, serve and stay back, return and volley, return and stay back, poach, fake or stay at the net before the point begins! Your partner should also know by communication or tendencies.
  5. Short high balls can be angled off or hit between your opponents. Deep high balls should be hit to the most open court with good depth! Slicing the overhead adds control and gives you time to recapture a net position.
  6. When hitting a transition ball in mid court, position quickly inside of the service box. If you choose not to transition because it was not comfortable enough, retreat behind the baseline. This is where, “up or back,’ is often said by coaches and alpha partners.
  7. When your partner crosses the middle of the net to poach (steal a shot with a volley), the partner behind should automatically switch to the other side of the court which was left open. The same is true if a lob is hit over the net player.
  8. In general you should strive to balance the court together with a positional strategy that works best against your opponents, given strengths and weaknesses of both teams. The basic positions are: one up / one back, both up, both back. The way in which you strategize your positioning with your partner should be based upon the weapons each of you bring, matched against those of your opponents. It is in effect, moving chess. The positions you line up in will change as the point develops.
  9. Using signals, talking between points, saying “you or me” during a point, keeps you and your partner on the same page to what your first shot and movement is. This will “catch” your opponent’s off guard and disrupt their timing. Team chemistry and communication become  extremely important.
  10. Doubles teams move together with the ball. A player moves diagonally, laterally, or vertically when playing at the net. This is when the phrase, “follow the ball’ or “stay together” is often discussed as bssic team fundamentals.

Ten Tennis Singles Tips

Using directional concepts and percentage tennis guidelines.

  1. Serve cross court to set up open court, serve the middle to reduce angles. The cross court serve usually sets up a cross court rally. Develop the slice serve to keep the ball height down. When kicking a ball, make sure it has pace as well. Tossing less behind head will help with this. The slice and flat serves should be hit at 1 o’clock.
  2. Return of wide serves should be hit cross court. Middle serves more down the middle or down the line. If returning serve is tough, consider backing up and punch slicing returns off either wing, keeping the ball height down. Another technique is to take little backswing and follow-through with a mini-drive.
  3. When hitting approach shots, be selective depending upon the passing ability of your opponent. If the court were divided into thirds, from net to baseline, only hit an approach shot in your lane or one lane over. This ensures you can cover the pass. A cross court approach can be done if you are following up a winner, and your opponent has little chance. This strategy also applies to approach volleys, serve approaches, and return of serve approaches.
  4. Lobs should be hit whenever you are being attacked by a tough forcing shot or net rusher, and you are not comfortable hitting a passing shot because you are pinned back typically outside the baseline. Aim high and deep cross court to allow time to recover.
  5. Passing shots, i.e. topspin lobs, low dipping topspins or slices, can be hit when you are inside the baseline and your opponent has secured the net. Your strategy is to make the volleyer hit up to create another passing opportunity or go over the head to take them off the net, at which point you may approach the net.
  6. Drop shot when your opponent is back far and you have a shorter ball inside the court. If their ball isn’t that short, stay back. If it is real short, you may approach on your drop shot using the approach shot guidelines.
  7. During deep baseline rallys, hit cross court because of lower net, more court, natural rotation of hips, and less recovery to middle of court.
  8. If you receive a short ball you may go down the line or approach depending upon your ability, the shot and your opponent’s ability.
  9. Using an inside forehand or backhand is useful for controling the center of the court with natural rotation of the hips.
  10. When evaulating an opponent, find what they are least good at and make them try to beat you with that weakness, while at the same time using shots you know you can execute.