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by Kelly Campbell 

Whether you want to beat your pickleball friends in casual play or dream of going pro, Trackithub’s pickleball tips for beginners provide foundational advice for new players. 

Even if you’ve never picked up a paddle, you likely know someone who plays pickleball. According to the 2022 Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) Single Sport Report on Pickleball, there were 4.8 million pickleball players in the US this past year. With pickleball’s continued growth and explosion across the country, the pickleball community will likely welcome even more dinkers this year. 

Pickleball has been dominating the worlds of both professional and leisure sports. Pickleball sets have hit the shelves at major stores like Target and there is a growing number of televised pickleball tournaments and specials. Many cities and resorts have become pickleball hot spots

Previously deemed a sport for older generations, pickleball’s rise in popularity over the past few years has encouraged more young people to get involved. Although pickleball is easily accessible for everyone across age groups, new players can and should elevate their skills by learning foundational pickleball strategies early on. 

Your next win will be more than mere “beginner’s luck” if you follow Trackithub’s Pickleball Tips for Beginners. If you’re new to pickleball, make sure to check out our tips below to improve your game and get ready to move up the ranks.

There’s no need to invest –– yet.

One of the best things about pickleball is that it is inexpensive. While there are numerous pickleball products and price variations, you only need a paddle, ball, and court to get started. There are various pickleball accessories and equipment options to choose from –– graphite paddles, edgeless and lightweight paddles, expensive pickleballs, paddle overgrips, and more –– but don’t get caught up in the glitz and glam just yet. While you learn the basics, it’s best to keep things simple. A wooden paddle will be enough to teach you the ropes; once you start moving up in skill level, you can upgrade your equipment. Pickleball Central, the largest online pickleball equipment reseller, is a great starting point for players of all skill levels to purchase pickleball equipment that suits their needs.

Practice Daily, Even if You Don’t Have a Partner 

Don’t wait until you have a partner to practice –– learning to play on your own will make a big difference. Practicing without an opponent is a good opportunity to focus on your form without getting distracted by competition or waiting until someone’s available to play. There are a lot of tools that you can invest in for solo practice. In Trackithub’s 10 Pickleball Accessories You Didn’t Know You Needed blog, we highlighted some great tools to use while practicing alone, including the Slam Master, training rings, ball feeder machines, and foam pickleballs for indoor practice. Practicing as much as possible is the only way to see changes and get better.

Study Pickleball Off the Court 

Although pickleball is relatively easy to learn, the terminology and rules can be overwhelming at first. It’s important to practice your drop shot and backswing on the court, but if you really want to move up in skill level you’ll have to think about pickleball off-the-court as well. There are plenty of online resources and videos to get you started and keep pickleball on your mind while you’re not playing. Learn the rules and study strategy on paper so that when you get back out on the court you can comfortably implement new skills. The better you learn the game and strategize moves in your head, the more equipped you’ll be when competing. Check out Trackithub’s Pickleball Dictionary to learn pickleball terminology and become a fluent player.

Focus on Form, Not Power 

An important distinction to learn about pickleball early on is that you should focus on form, not power. Unlike some other racquet sports, pickleball is not all about smash shots; dinks and finesse shots can make just as much of an impact against your opponents. Learn how to strategize your strokes and you’ll see how your form will affect the game over hard-hit serves and spikes. Perfecting dink shots, lobs, and drop shots without relying on force and strength will keep the ball in play and it’ll be more likely for your opponent to make unforced errors. Ball placement will make a greater impact than power; take notice of your opponent’s dominant side and hit opposite of that. Also, hit to open areas where players are not positioned as opposed to taking sideline shots. Once you’ve developed your form and ball placement, you can confidently add in power to smash hits without fear of error. 

Allow Your Opponents to Make the Mistakes

The majority of points are scored from unforced errors, or mistakes that players make themselves. A harder hit usually means less control of the ball, which makes it easy to make mistakes. By focusing on form and perfecting the foundations of your swings instead of force, you’re less likely to fault. Stay consistent and keep the rally going –– at some point your opponents will make an unforced error, awarding you points. 

Join Leagues and Connect with Players

Joining pickleball ladder leagues and pickleball tournaments is a great way to meet other picklers outside of your normal circles and grow your pickleball network. Ladder leagues and round robins allow players to compete in structured play with opponents of the same skill level. Getting involved with the pickleball community will connect you with other picklers of varying skill levels to practice with, compete against, and learn from. Use Trackithub’s #1 pickleball management platform to find events and clubs, track scores, schedule tournaments, and connect with other players near you. 

Learn from Others

One of the best sources of pickleball information is the pickleball community itself. Studying other players is the best way to make strides in improving your skills. If you violate rules and make mistakes at the beginning while playing, use it as a learning experience; ask more experienced players to explain rules and turn losses into teachable moments. Competition is fun, but as a beginner you should especially put losses aside and focus on what can be learned from every opponent you encounter. Watch matches at your local courts or learn from professional players by watching on tv or attending professional tournaments. There are plenty of online pickleball forums and groups to join to get involved in pickleball conversations. Pickleball Forum is a public Facebook group with over 69k members where picklers share advice and talk about all things pickleball. 

Take Lessons 

If you have the financial resources, pickleball lessons are an incomparable investment for serious players. Many courts and complexes offer lessons with pickleball experts and professionals. Lessons create an unparalleled experience –– a professional can walk you through difficult skills and can critique your form in real-time. If you can’t take in-person 1:1 lessons, another option is to learn from online videos and books. For an online alternative to in-person lessons, check out this Pickleball Academy Udemy course.

Strategize Your Positioning and Stance 

You’d be surprised how much small things like paddle grip, position, and stance on the court can affect your game. Keep your paddle high and close to your chest to increase reaction time and keep you in a ready position. Face the player hitting the ball instead of the net. This puts you in the best position to receive and return the ball. When serving, you must stand behind the baseline. When receiving service, you should stand at or on the baseline. When volleying at the net, the non-volley line is the strongest position to be in.

Stretch and Stay Hydrated

Pickleball is low-impact overall but it can get pretty intense. Like any sport, it’s important to take precautions to avoid injuries when playing. Stretch before and after matches and stay hydrated. Taking care of your body will ensure that you’re always operating at the optimal level on the court.