Improve Your Game: 9 Common Pickleball Strategy Mistakes & How to Avoid Them



Hey there, pickleball aficionados! We all know the thrill of a good pickleball match – the adrenaline, the strategy, the sheer joy of a well-played shot. But even the most dedicated among us can sometimes trip up on basic strategies, turning a sure-shot victory into a clumsy tumble. Whether you’re a beginner finding your footing, or a seasoned player looking to fine-tune your game, identifying common mistakes and knowing how to fix them can make all the difference. So buckle up and get ready to dive into the top 9 basic pickleball strategy mistakes and, most importantly, how to fix them!


Importance of strategy in pickleball

Strategy in pickleball dictates every move you make, every shot you play, and every step you take on the court. It’s the subtle difference between hitting the ball to your opponent’s strong side and their weak side, between playing a deep shot or a dink, between staying at the baseline or moving up to the non-volley zone. It’s about anticipation, positioning, shot selection, and decision-making – all in the heat of the moment.

But let’s face it, we’ve all been there – committing unforced errors, getting caught in no man’s land, or simply letting our strategy (or lack thereof) slip in the heat of a tight match. We all make mistakes, but the key to improving your pickleball game lies in identifying these strategy blunders and understanding how to avoid them.

Top 9 Basic Pickleball Strategy Mistakes & How To Fix Them

In this article, we’ll take a close look at nine common strategy mistakes we often see in pickleball – from the wandering server to the baseline hanger, from the ‘dead dink’ hitter to the overly precise shooter. Not only will we delve into what these mistakes are but, more importantly, we’ll provide you with tips on how to fix them. So, buckle up and get ready for a deep dive into the art of pickleball strategy!

1. 🏸 The ‘Wandering Server’ Mistake

A common mistake made by many pickleball enthusiasts is the tendency to meander into the court right after serving. This makes them susceptible to returns shot directly at their feet – a hard place to retrieve the ball from. The fix? Stay disciplined. After serving, take a step or two back to better deal with deep returns.

Pickleball Strategy Mistakes

2. πŸšΆβ€β™‚οΈ Misplaced Positioning during Returns

Pickleball isn’t just about hitting shots; where you stand matters too. One common blunder is hugging the baseline too closely during returns. This restricts your ability to move towards the non-volley zone line, making it difficult to control the game. The ideal position is 2-5 feet away from the baseline – this gives you more room to handle different types of serves.

3. πŸ’€ The ‘Dead Dinks’ Dilemma

A ‘dead dink’ is a high, safe, conservative shot with barely any spin – it’s as easy to attack as a sitting duck! Avoid making your shots too predictable and easy for the opponent. Try mixing up your dinks with variations in spin and placement. The more unpredictable you are, the tougher it is for your opponent.

4. πŸ”™ Yielding the Non-Volley Zone Line

The non-volley zone line isn’t just a line – it’s a territory that you need to defend. Allowing deep dinks to bounce you off the line is surrendering control. Don’t let the ball dictate your position; instead, volley those dinks right out of the air. Maintain your ground and keep control of the game.

5. ⬅️ Baseline Attachment

Staying back at the baseline like a wallflower doesn’t win you games. It’s crucial to transition towards the non-volley zone line effectively – the closer you are to the net, the better your control over the game. Work on your transitions and dominate the court.

6. 🏎️ Overeager Drive

Enthusiasm is great, but rushing your third shot drive right after serving isn’t. Observe the impact of your drive, then decide your next move. Haste makes waste, so slow down and strategize.

7. πŸ‘€ The Spectator Syndrome

After hitting the ball, don’t just stand and admire your shot like a spectator. Anticipate your opponent’s next move. If you’re pulled wide off the court, reposition quickly. Always be ready and alert for the next ball.

The Spectator Syndrome

8. 🀲 Fear of Backhand Shots

Some players avoid backhand shots like the plague, over-relying on their forehand. This can throw you off position and hinder the development of a balanced skillset. Embrace your backhand – it’s not a weakness, but a different way to dominate the game.

9. 🎯 Too Precise Margins

We all want to be precise, but aiming your shots too close to the sidelines or baseline can lead to unnecessary errors. Give yourself a bit of breathing room – aim your shots with more cushion. It’s better to keep the ball in play than make a risky shot that ends up out of bounds.


Well, there you have it folks – a comprehensive guide to tackling the most common pickleball strategy mistakes.

We started off with the ‘Wandering Server’ blunder, where players drift into the court after serving, making them vulnerable to returns aimed at their feet. The fix? Take a step or two back after serving to handle deep returns better.

Then, we covered the issue of standing too close to the baseline when returning, which can hamper your advance to the non-volley zone line. The solution is to give yourself a little space, standing 2-5 feet away from the baseline.

We tackled the problem of ‘Dead Dinks’ – those high, conservative dinks that lack spin and are easy for your opponent to attack. By adding spin and placement variations to your dinks, you can keep your opponent on their toes.

We also discussed how to maintain your ground at the non-volley zone line, the importance of transitioning away from the baseline towards the net, the dangers of rushing your third shot drive, and the need to anticipate your opponent’s next move rather than just watching the ball.

And of course, we can’t forget the tendency of some players to avoid backhand shots. Embracing your backhand can enhance your game and keep your opponent guessing. Lastly, we touched on the risks of playing with too small margins. Giving yourself a little more cushion can increase your chances of keeping the ball in play.

Fear of Backhand Shots

Each of these points offer valuable insights into how to step up your pickleball game. But remember, knowing these strategies is just the first step. Implementing them and making them a part of your game is where the real work (and fun!) begins.

So, get out there, use these tips, and start seeing improvements in your game. Remember, every pro was once a beginner who never gave up. Keep playing, keep learning, and most importantly, keep enjoying the wonderful game of pickleball!

David McGri

As a seasoned pickleball professional with more than 8 years of experience in both competitive and casual racquet sports, I have gathered a wealth of knowledge and insights. Over the years, I’ve faced various challenges and made countless mistakes in pickleball, experiences that I’m excited to share on my blog.

My aim is to dispense valuable advice and strategies for anyone hoping to elevate their pickleball game, including beginners. Through my blog, I aspire to assist players at every skill level to not only improve their gameplay but also to enhance their overall enjoyment of pickleball.

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