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Pickleball Strategy: Singles

  • Keep serves deep with good pace. Vary direction, but make sure they’re in bounds.
  • Serve from near the centerline so you can get at most returns more easily.
  • Try to keep returns deep and to the corners.
  • Generally, stay near the back third of the court.
  • Try to force opponents to use their backhand; most players’ backhands are weaker.
  • Whenever you can, hit a deep forcing shot into the corners, where your opponent doesn’t have time to set up for their shot. That gives you a chance to come to the non-volley line and hit a passing shot.
  • Face your opponent. This puts you in a better position to return a shot to either side.
  • Never hit a drop shot when your opponent is deep. Good players will get to it quickly and be in position to hit a passing shot.
  • Vary your shots so opponents can’t anticipate you. Occasionally try to make them think you’re doing one shot, but hit another.
  • Generally, move left or right as your opponent moves, but stay closer to the center line.
  • Use lobs only when necessary and your opponent is at the non-volley line.
  • If your opponent has managed to get to the non-volley line and you are still back, you have 3 choices:
    • A hard passing shot.
    • A drop shot that hits the ground at your opponent’s feet.
    • A lob.
    • The right choice depends upon your skill level with each type of shot. The best players rarely lob because it’s a difficult shot to hit deep enough to keep a good player from putting it away.