Top 9 Basic Pickleball Strategy Mistakes (& How To Fix Them)

Top 9 Basic Pickleball Strategy Mistakes (& How To Fix Them)

When you start getting into pickleball strategy, the game gets even more fun!

People often say it becomes more like chess vs checkers…

In today’s article we will breakdown 9 basic pickleball strategy mistakes and how to fix them.

Mistake #1: “Wandering” Server

The “wandering” server commonly happens after people serve the ball… instead of staying back behind the baseline to get in good position for a third shot, the server will start wandering in towards the kitchen.

Why isn’t this a good strategy? Because the serving team needs to let the ball bounce before hitting the third shot.

I explain this more in depth in our recent article Avoid These 7 Beginner Pickleball Mistakes (Easy To Fix).

Mistake #2: Standing on the baseline when waiting for return

As the returner, we can not hit the ball out of the air on the serve… we have to let the ball bounce before making contact.

If we are standing on the baseline and the server hits a deep serve, we will have to move backwards to wait for the ball to bounce… we never want to be moving backwards when hitting the ball.

It is much easier to stand behind the baseline and move forward.

Remember the goal of the return is to move forward to the the kitchen line

Mistake #3: “Dead dinks” that have no purpose

Once you can consistently get your dinks in, it’s time to turn up the strategy.

Simply getting your dink over the net is referred to as a “dead dink.” It puts ZERO pressure on your opponent.

As you start playing better competition, all of our shots need a purpose… including our dinks.

Focus on moving your opponents around and more aggressive dinks to set yourself up to put the ball away.

Mistake #4: Too easily pushed off the non volley zone line and not getting back up

There is one main thing we can do so we don’t get pushed off the non volley zone…

We can practice taking more balls out of the air… Many people, especially beginners, step back and let the ball bounce every time. When we can get comfortable taking the ball out of the air, either a dink volley or a speed up, we will be able to hold our ground at the non volley zone line.

Related: 3 Easy Tips To Dominate The Pickleball Kitchen

Mistake #5: “Win from the back” mentality (aka bangers)

Many people, including myself, start playing pickleball only from the baseline. I was able to get away with it until I started playing people that knew pickleball strategy…

Then, as a 25 year old, I was getting whooped up on by 75 year olds.

If you want to improve your pickleball game, you will start playing players better than you… when you do this, you will no longer be able to win from the baseline.

Mistake #6: Drive & Rush

I know the last mistake was that we can’t win by staying back at the baseline…

This is true but this DOES NOT mean we want to rush up to the kitchen line.

We need to see where our/our partners shot goes… If our shot is high and we run up to the kitchen line, our opponent will smash the ball down at us.

We want to practice moving forward at the right times… when our shot is low or lands in our opponents kitchen. NOT when we hit a high ball and our opponent is smashing the ball down at us.

Mistake #7: Being a spectator on the court

A mistake people of all levels make is watching their shot or their partners shot too long…

We want to get a glimpse of the shot, but always be moving to get in good position for the next shot.

Mistake #8: Avoiding your backhand at all costs

Similar to mistake #5, we can get away with this when we are playing beginners. As you play more experienced people, they are going to notice very quickly that you avoid your backhand…

Ok they will notice it… then what? Then they will hit every single shot to your backhand.

If you want to improve your game and move up to higher levels, you can’t keep avoiding your backhand.

Mistake #9: Playing with too small margins (target too close to the line)

Trying to hit the lines is our final pickleball strategy mistake for this article.

When we are aiming for the lines, we don’t give ourselves any room for error.

We don’t want to lose the point without giving ourself a chance… when we aim for lines and miss, the other team gets a free point. We didn’t even give ourselves a chance to win the point.

Check out the video below for a full video explanation on pickleball strategy!

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