Pickleball Techniques Strategies - Dink Pro

Pickleball Strategies

Pickleball Theory can get pretty deep, if you are having some questions about singles and doubles picklball strategy we have you covered.

We teamed up with professional pickleball Coach CJ Johnson for some great strategies and tips.

Pickleball Strategies by C.J. Johnson

CJ Johnson

Pickleball Coach and Athletic Trainer 

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1. Don’t Run to the kitchen too fast

2. Does the Forehand always Cover the Middle

3. Cover the Court as a Team

4. Move to the Net as a Team

5. Choices for Returning a Lob

6. Defend a Lob

7. Keep Them Back

8. Serve – Why Hit It Deep?

9. Butterflies and the Mental Game

10. How to Control the Flight of the Ball

Pickleball Strategy Tip#1 – Don’t Run to the Kitchen too fast!

Have you been told “Run to the kitchen line no matter what.” and then this happened? Hmmm… Maybe it’s time to rethink that strategy.

When I took my very first lesson, the one takeaway that I brought away from that lesson was that no matter what, I had to get to the kitchen line as fast as I could. If you watch 5.0 pickleball players, it can appear that that’s what they’re doing.

Appearances can be very deceiving. Those teams are strategically moving towards the net. Pickleball is one of the few sports that when you have the serve, you’re actually on the defense. That’s because you have to let the ball bounce, so your team has to stay at the baseline whereas your opponents hit the return and they’re already at the non-volley zone or the kitchen line. They are now on the offensive. If you’re taught the same way I was, you run into the kitchen no matter what and if the ball is a little high, it comes back at your feet. It’s not your partner’s fault. It’s your fault. You weren’t in the right place.

There are three things to keep in mind.

1. Watch the trajectory of the shot as you start to move forward.

2. Watch what your opponents are doing.

3. Split step and defend if needed.

Also,Remember these few things:

1. Wait for the right shot to move to the kitchen line. The ideal shot is when your opponents have to bend to hit the shot.

2. If you can’t get all the way in, use the split step and stop. Be prepared to play defense.

3. Once you hit the next shot, keep it soft and then work your way into the kitchen so now, you’ve evened up the game.

Pickleball Strategy Tip #2 – Does the Forehand always Cover the Middle?

You’ve probably heard “It’s your forehand. You’ve got the middle.” – but is that not always the case? Should the forehand always be covering the middle? Stay tuned!

Let’s just say for example, the return of serve comes to Player 1 and it goes to her backhand. So, Player 1 going to turn to hit her backhand. Now, how do we cover the court because we have two people standing at the kitchen line on the other side ? Player 1 has to concentrate on her shot. Player 2 has the tough part of covering the rest of this court. Player 2, needs to square up to Player 3 and to move to the center of the court. Player 1 is to take her shot so there is her backhand. Player 2 should stay even with Player 1. Square the hips and shoulders directed to Player 3. This allows you to take the shots down in the middle and shots out wide.

There’s one more thing. You have to step forward this direction so you’ve got one step to take either of those shots. Point your hips and shoulders directed Player 3. There you go. That allows you to take one step to your right or to go wide for a lower angle or right down below. The middle is now for the next shot.

The important point is not that the forehand should be covering the middle but that you and your partner are creating teamwork around the court and eliminating those holes so you stop giving up some of those easy points.

Get the full tip by watching the video

Pickleball Strategy Tip #3 –Cover the Court as a Team

One of the things that’s most impressive in watching the top teams is how they move together as a team. They cover the entire court and they keep their opponents from hitting an easy winner into the open court.

One of the things that’s most impressive in watching the top teams is how they move together as a team. They cover the entire court and they keep their opponents from hitting an easy winner into the open court.

Laura described it to me like creating a wall with your partner to keep your opponents from penetrating that wall. They do a great job of that moving backward and forward, side to side. You can see that they’re extremely active at the non-volley zone. No still feet. We’re going to see that same point here in slow motion. As a team, they start to approach the non-volley zone.

The last video I did was about moving together and moving forward as a team so if you missed that, make sure you that you click on this card and you can watch the importance of getting to the non-volley zone as a team but once you’re there, you’re going to notice how these ladies move to the left with each other. Stephanie was pulled out a little wide so Laura covered the center of the court. And then the ball went back the other way so Stephanie came back and covered the center of the court. They’re very active moving side to side. As I mentioned before, no still feet.

One of the things that I like to think about is that my partner and I have a bungee cord attached to us. Whenever my partner moves over to the left, I go in that direction with them. If I go over to the opposite side, my partner needs to follow in that direction with me. That way, we eliminate some of the open court and make it much more difficult for our opponents to catch us off balance and to hit a winner.

Why not give this a try? The next time you go out to play, try and match your partner’s movements. See if it gives your opponent’s a more difficult time in finding the open court to hit a winner.

Pickleball Strategy Tip #4 –Move to the Net as a Team

Here, we’ve got Laura Fenton Kovanda playing along with Morgan Evans. What you’ll notice is as they move to the net, they stay in complete sync with each other until they get to the kitchen line.

We’re going to see that same clip in slow motion.

So after the serve, they’re going to, as a team, not necessarily hit the shot and run full force up to the net. They move a little bit. They split step. Morgan hits another shot. They split step again. And then finally, they are now up at the net.

Here’s Laura drilling me and my partner, Janet. We’re actually using third shots here to try and get up to the net. What you’ll notice is we split step multiple times on our way up to the net. Again, here’s a little bit of a split step, the ball is a bit high so we don’t move forward much. So, it’s going to take us three or four shots each time to get to the kitchen line. Here on this very last point, I think it takes maybe five or six because we end up on the defensive right away in the beginning. This first shot I’m going to hit a little bit high and it comes back like a bullet. So do the next couple shots. Here, we finally get the ball a little bit lower and then of course, we get up to the line but we stay in unison as we do it.

Pickleball Strategy Tip #5 –  Choices for Returning a Lob

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Pickleball Strategy Tip #6 –  Defend a Lob

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Pickleball Strategy Tip #7 –  Keep them Back

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Pickleball Strategy Tip #8 –  Why Hit it Deep

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Pickleball Strategy Tip #9 – Butterflies and the Mental Game

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Pickleball Strategy Tip #10 – How to Control the Flight of the Ball

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