Relishing Pickleball: 12 Common Mistakes and How to Fix Them: Mistakes 9 and 10

David Zapatka

This 12-common-mistakes column began after playing with some very excited, highly-motivated, new pickleball players at our community courts recently. After playing a couple games, this question was posed to me, “What should we do to improve and become 3.5 players?” We reviewed the first eight mistakes the past four months. This month we take a look at two more.

9. Trying to win a dink battle against a better dinker. Dinking is one of the most fun parts of playing pickleball. If you don’t learn to dink well, it will be difficult to surpass the 4.0 to 4.5 skill range. I love the dink battle, but I don’t like losing to a better dinker, and there are plenty of them out there. Experience tells me if I survive three dinks in a row to someone who is a better dinker than I, I had better do something different. The odds say I’m more likely to lose this battle than win it. I’ve learned two strategies when in this position; either lob or dink to the other person. This changes the pattern and gets the other players involved. Mix in lobs and dinks to the other opponent to get out of dink battles you are likely going to lose!

10. Hitting an opponent’s drive too hard. There’s plenty of hard hitting in today’s game. How many times have you had a ball hit hard at you, and your response was to hit it hard back? How many times have these balls flown out of the court or gone into the net? If this happens to you, learn how to block hard drives. Easy answer is to stop swinging at these balls. Your opponent’s shot has plenty of power. Don’t add power by swinging! Now there are two choices. With a firm wrist and no swing, simply block the shot at an angle away from the opponents. Secondly, loosen your grip on the paddle, allow the paddle face to open up, and instead of hitting the ball, absorb the pace while blocking the shot. This creates a soft drop shot that most opponents have difficulty reaching and returning.

Want to know more about the sport, the rules, equipment, or have some pickilicious news you would like to share with our pickleball community? Email David Zapatka at [email protected]