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How to Become a Pro at Pickleball

by Lauren Neale | Published December 21, 2023 | Reviewed by John Krahnert

Pickleball is quickly becoming the fastest growing sport in America and a favorite outdoor activity for young and old alike. It has risen in popularity by 156% since 2020 with over 36.5 million players across the United States. Seniors aged 55 years and older make up the largest age demographic of pickleball players.1

With a rise in popularity, the competition is growing to become a great pickleball player. So what do you need to do in order to become a pro pickleballer? Here are four tips to keep in mind as you practice or the next time you play:

1. Practice your serve

In pickleball, you can only score if you or your team is serving the ball.  That means it is critical to keep the ball in your possession.  By strengthening your serve, you are less likely to turn the ball over to the other team and more likely to turn your serve into a score.  Practice your underhand serve to the opposite side, making sure it lands past the Kitchen line and in the box diagonal to yours.  Hone in your accuracy and consistency over time.

2. Master the dink shot

A dink shot is a short shot that lands in the opponents’ Kitchen, making it more difficult for their team to return.  The return may be a pop-up ball which can be turned into an easy point for your team.  To hit a dink shot, have the paddle in front of your body, get under the ball before making contact and hit it hard enough it sails over the net, but light enough that it lands in the opponents’ Kitchen.  This move takes a lot of finesse, so practice makes perfect!

3. Move up to the Kitchen line

Once the ball hits the ground the required two times after a serve, quickly move up to the Kitchen line.  Volleying from the Kitchen line gives you a better advantage to score points.  You can even level-up by adding a spin to your return volleys that makes  it harder for your opponent to return.

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4. Return to your opponents' backhand

Many players struggle with the backhand which could be used to your advantage in a match.  Serving or returning to an opponent's backhand may make it harder for them to return which could either help you score or set you up for a strong next shot.

Pickleball is growing fast and the competition on the court is fierce.  To become a great pickleball player, learning the rules of the game and practicing your strategy and skills will help you immensely in a match.  By implementing the four tips above into your pickleball game, you will be on your way to becoming a pro! 

1 Brandon Mackie, 2023. “Pickleball Statistics: The Numbers Behind America’s Fastest Growing Sport in 2023.”

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