The best pickleball habits you should learn.
It can take many days for good habits to become second nature, but if you keep a few concepts in mind, you can build a solid foundation of skills so that you are able to think less and act more successfully.
Some basic pickleball principles are easy to implement, but seem so obvious that it's easy to overlook them. However, it's definitely worth paying more attention to these areas because they can strengthen your game in the long term if you take the time to embed them in your consciousness.
A balanced readiness position
You're playing pickleball, it's hot and your body is getting tired... this seems like a good time to relax and neglect positioning, but it's important to maintain your form. A good starting position is when your knees are slightly bent, the paddle is raised near the center of your body, and your feet are shoulder width apart.
Not only will this make it easier for you to move around the course, but this posture is much safer and reduces the risk of tripping. With the right posture, you can also better protect yourself and react to unexpected hazards, such as a punch flying at your face.
Try hitting into the "Kitchen".
The kitchen or no-volley zone is the big equalizing area in pickleball. If you feel overwhelmed by your opponent's speed or power, you can force him to dink (or make an awkward, arcing hit) to regain your balance. A soft, relaxed grip can help, as can a paddle tilted slightly upward.
Of course, you should also develop the ability to spot gaps, but in general, dinks are safe shots that are rewarding if you are consistent. If you master this aspect of the game, you will often be able to control and defeat aggressive players.
Develop a consistent serve
Some players fall for the idea of developing powerful, spinning serves with all the trimmings. In most cases, however, it's smarter to just get the ball over the net. Don't shoot yourself in the foot by imagining too much. It helps if you try to serve low - this makes it harder for other players to close the distance and return the ball accurately. However, the main goal is to put the ball in play.
The serve is the only shot where you have time to take a breath and completely refocus before hitting the ball. When a match is close, don't take risks when you have the most control.
Stay close to the net
Other than when a lob flies over your head, there aren't many reasons to move away from the non-volley zone. Staying near the net can seem intimidating, but it allows you to cover your side of the court with less movement and minimize the variety of shots your opponent takes. It also prevents them from making the most of spin, as you can hit the ball before it touches the ground.
You don't necessarily have to rush to the kitchen immediately after serving, but you should move steadily toward it. Don't get stuck in "no man's land" where it's difficult to ever gain an advantage against your opponent.
Once you have internalized these habits, you are more likely to help yourself succeed and create winning situations naturally.