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6 Expert Tips to Get Better at Pickleball: From Beginner to Pro

Unlock the secrets to mastering skills and strategies that guarantee an adrenaline-pumping experience on the pickleball court.

a woman holding a tennis racket in front of a green wall
By Katie Van Doren
Dorian Rhode
Edited by Dorian Rhode

Published February 10, 2024.

A woman practicing her skills to get better at pickleball.

Pickleball, a fast-paced fusion of tennis and badminton, is taking the sports world by storm. Whether you're a beginner looking to dip your paddle into the excitement or a seasoned pro seeking to fine-tune your skills, our comprehensive guide has you covered.

So, let's see how you can improve at pickleball, from perfecting your footwork to executing precision shots.

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1. Focus on Controlled Footwork and Paddle Grip

Mastering controlled footwork and maintaining the correct paddle grip are fundamental to improving pickleball skills. You should keep the wrist firm while executing shots to ensure better control over the paddle.

Also, you should aim for a grip strength of about 4 out of 10 to maintain stability during play. You can build a solid foundation for your pickleball game by focusing on these essential techniques.

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2. Master Precise Shot Selection

Knowing the right shots, like dinks, drops, and strong drives, makes all the difference if you want to be good at pickleball. Analyze your opponent's strategy to understand which ones to choose and when to use them.

For example, the dink can help you stay on the offensive and control the game's speed, especially near the kitchen line. Drops are shots that hit close to the net, forcing the opponent to move towards it. Finally, drives are best if you want to apply pressure and end points quickly.

Note: All of the mentioned shots depend on your opponent's location on the pickleball court, and they are different skills you need to develop to become a stronger player.

3. Practice Targeted Drills

Dinking drills—whether straight-on with a partner or cross-court—help you improve the accuracy and control when executing them. The exercises focus on speed-ups and blocks at the kitchen line, refining your abilities to react quickly to incoming shots and keep defensive positions effectively.

On the other hand, defensive transition drills are for practicing groundstrokes from the baseline, cross-court, and down the line. Including them in regular practice sessions helps you hone essential skills to improve your game.

Tip: You can use a wall to practice, but the most effective method is with a partner or a coach. A ball machine is also a great alternative.

People laying pickleball on the court to get better at the game.

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4. Combine Bodyweight Workouts and Resistance Training

Include functional exercises and strength training in your workout if you need more agility and power on the court. They focus on movements like cable chops, and single-leg jumps or squats, which are helpful because of the rotations during pickleball shots.

Bodyweight squats, lunges, and planks will help you focus on strengthening and enhancing core power. These exercises are also an excellent way to support pickleball athletes and reduce the risk of injury.

Additionally, you can include resistance training using dumbbell exercises like rows and overhead presses to improve performance and overall fitness further.

5. Refine Your Overall Technique

To improve your game, focus on correcting common errors, especially in paddle positioning and footwork.

Keep the following tips in mind to perfect your technique:

  • Reduce swinging at the kitchen line during volleys to maintain better control and precision in your shots.
  • Minimize unnecessary footwork to avoid overstepping.
  • You only get one serve in pickleball, so make sure it goes in and lands deeper in the court near the baseline.
  • Keep the paddle before you after each shot, preparing for the next one to avoid being late.
  • Always aim for the opponent's feet if they transition on the court.
  • Play against skill levels both above and below your own to challenge yourself.

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6. Get Professional Coaching and Participate in Leagues

To become a more serious player, you can start with beginner clinics that develop foundational skills. Another option is private coaching that provides personalized instruction tailored to your needs.

Consider participating in leagues at facilities if you get better at pickleball after 3–6 months of playing. They'll give you a more competitive edge, elevating the game's intensity.

A man practicing to get better at pickleball.

Unleash Your Pickleball Potential

Pickleball is all about understanding the game's dynamics and strategies. By following these expert tips, you can help yourself get better at pickleball. Plus, having the proper support can make all the difference. That's where Upstep comes in.

With custom orthotics tailored for sports, these inserts provide the support and stability your feet need to excel on the court. So, whether you're having solo practice sessions or strategizing with teammates, Upstep keeps you at your best every step.

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