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PICKLEBALL TIPS & TRICKS

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Should you serve first or receive?

Serving first in pickleball can offer several advantages. As the server, you have the initial opportunity to control the game's pace and direction, setting the tone from the outset. The serve is a unique chance to strategically place the ball, potentially putting your opponents on the defensive. Moreover, since points can only be scored by the serving team, starting with the serve gives you the first chance to accumulate points and build an early lead.

However, the receiving team also enjoys certain benefits. They have the opportunity to score the first point since the serving team must win the serve to start scoring. In doubles, the first serving team gets only one serve initially, compared to the usual two serves per side, providing the receiving team a better chance to win back the serve early. Thus, while serving first can be advantageous, the game's dynamics ensure that the receiving team also has strategic opportunities.

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Third/Fifth Shot Drops

The 3rd and 5th drop shots are undoubtedly the most difficult shots in the game. They require good technique, focus, anticipation, skill, control and adjustment to the pace of the ball received.

  • Focus on the ball

  • Light grip pressure

  • Slow swing speed

  • Low to high motion

  • Apex over your own non-volley zone line

  • Finish with the paddle high

It’s really important to give yourself a margin, respect the net, and get the ball high on your side of the court. The apex (highest point of the ball trajectory) should be over your own kitchen line. This will mean that you clear the net and the ball is descending over the net into your opponents kitchen.

Make a decision to hit a 3rd shot drop every time in your next game. Repetition is the mother of skill. If you push through the fear of making a mistake or letting your teammates down you’ll improve in this challenging stroke.

You can’t replace giving time and attention to this shot. Drilling is fantastic, but it can’t replace using this shot in a game situation.

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Stop Hitting and Start Aiming

Where to aim on a Pickleball court - firstly, aim the ball, don’t just hit the ball.

Next time you’re playing pickleball, think about placing and aiming the ball on the court.

Your target could be to get the ball deep on the court as in return of serves. As a point progresses the targets become smaller as the opponents get closer to the NVZ/ kitchen.

Aim for space, aim for your opponent’s feet and aim towards the side line. Stop hitting and start aiming!

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Placement Beats Power

Work on your swing, work on hitting the ball while balanced and connecting with the ball within your circle of reach, (not overreaching for a ball). If you lean too far into the kitchen (or on the court when not moving your feet) all your weight is on your toes or off balance and it’s harder to hit a controlled stroke.

Allow the ball to come to you, don’t rush your stroke, and practice aiming the ball at specific points on the court.

Instead of just trying to get the ball over the net, think about placing the ball at the foot of your opponent or in a certain section of the court. This will help to cut out unforced errors and take your game to a higher level.

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