10 Common Beginner Pickleball Mistakes
Pickleball is a fun and fast-paced sport that is continuously growing in popularity. However, many beginners make common mistakes that can affect their enjoyment of the game and their success on the court. Here are the top 10 common mistakes that beginner pickleball players make and how to avoid them:
1. Not Understanding the Rules
Pickleball has its own unique set of rules and regulations, so it is important for players to familiarize themselves with these before they hit the court. Take the time to read the rulebook or watch one or all of the videos in this blog to help avoid making common rule-related mistakes.
2. Not Getting To The Kitchen Line
After you return a serve, it’s important to get up to the kitchen line as quickly as possible. Beginners often stay back, making it more difficult to cover the entirety of the court because your opponents will then keep hitting balls deep to keep you back there. Whereas, if you’re at the kitchen line, you’ll have a good defensive strategy with you and your partner covering the frontline, making it more difficult for your opponents to get a ball past you.
3. Not Warming Up Properly
Regularly warming up before playing pickleball is crucial to avoid injury and improve performance. Stretching and doing some light cardio will help prepare your body for the game. By stretching your muscles and ligaments, you may also find that you’re able to have more endurance on the courts.
Many beginners try to hit the ball too hard, which can result in missed shots and poor control. Focus on making accurate shots and letting the ball do the work, rather than relying on brute force.
Another common mistake is trying to get too fancy with your spin shots. Your spin shots and power shots will come with practice. Remember, as a beginner, the goal is to be able to rally, have control, and make accurate shots to earn points and be able to defend against your opponents.
5. Not Paying Attention to Footwork
Good footwork is essential in pickleball, as it allows players to move quickly and position themselves correctly to make shots. Pay attention to your footwork and make sure you are using the correct technique.
Another key tip is if you see a ball pop up over your head and it’s out of reach, do NOT backstep to get it. This often results in falls and injuries. Instead, it’s ideal if your partner goes after that ball because they have a better angle of watching where the ball will land and can follow it. If you are determined to get the ball yourself, it’s highly recommended to side step to get to the ball in time and not backstep.
When you’re at the kitchen line defending, make sure to shuffle your feet left and right, and don’t cross your ankles, to get to a ball. By crossing your ankles, this puts you off balance, making it more difficult to get back to your original position. This means that your opponent will have the opportunity to hit the ball where you were because you couldn’t get back to your position in time.
6. Not Varying Your Shot Selection
Players who rely on the same shot repeatedly can become predictable and easy to defend against. Varying your shot selection will keep your opponent on their toes and make it more difficult for them to defend against you.
7. Not Anticipating Your Opponent’s Shots
Anticipation is key in pickleball, and beginners often miss opportunities to make shots because they are not paying attention to their opponent’s movements. Watch your opponent closely and try to predict where their next shot will go.
In the same vein, if you hit a ball towards an outside boundary line and see your opponent there getting it, it’s a great idea to return the ball to their original position if they’re not back in time and if their partner did not shift to cover them.
8. Not Paying Attention to Court Position
Positioning is crucial in pickleball, and beginners often make the mistake of standing in the wrong place on the court or moving at the wrong time. Pay attention to where the ball is and adjust your position accordingly to maximize your chances of making a shot.
It’s not uncommon that after a beginner serves, they will make the mistake of scooting up after a serve. The returned serve will typically aim as deep as possible which makes it difficult for a beginner to return the ball effectively.
9. Not Communicating with Your Partner
Communication is essential in doubles pickleball, and beginners often make the mistake of not talking to their partner enough. Make sure to communicate with your partner about who is covering what shots, and who should be making the next move. You can call the ball as ‘I got it!’ or something as simple as ‘YOU!’ or ‘ME!’ to indicate clearly whose responsibility it is to get that shot.
It’s very common that beginners won’t confidently know who should take the shot if a ball comes straight down the center between you and your partner. In this scenario, whoever has the forehand has a more powerful shot, and typically better angle, and should be the one responsible for taking that shot.
10. Not Staying Focused
Pickleball can be fast-paced and intense, and beginners often make the mistake of losing focus. Stay focused on the game and be mindful of your surroundings, as well as the movements and shots of your opponent and even your partner.
It’s very helpful to know where your partner is because you should, for the most part, be moving as a unit. For example, if a ball goes over your head but you see your partner running back, their body language is communicating that they will be watching that ball to see if it’s out and if it’s not, they’re in a better position than you to get the ball. Ideally, your partner should be communicating if they have the ball so you know to duck or get out of the way for them to make an effective shot.