Relishing Pickleball: 12 Common Mistakes and How to Fix Them (Mistakes 5 and 6)

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 four mistakes the past two months. This month, we take a look at two more.

5. Attempting to smash balls that are too low. What typically happens when we try to smash a ball that is too low? It goes into the net. Frequently, opponents try to hit a dink that comes over the net too high or a lob that comes over the net too low. This in-between ball is too low to smash and too high to dink. If we try to dink the ball, it goes too high, and the opponent smashes it back into our court. If we try an overhead smash, the face of the paddle is heading down towards our court at impact instead of over the net into our opponents’ court. When we try to smash with the ball far in front of us, we end up hitting the ball at the end of our stroke arc, instead of at the top, which causes the ball to go into the net.

Instead of smashing or dinking this ball, contact the ball with a push in the direction you want it to go. If we push the paddle through the ball in the direction we want it to go, we’ll produce a shot with far less power, but with much greater accuracy. This is the control we want in our game.

6. Being too aggressive and trying to hit shots above our skill level. Playing consistent pickleball wins matches. This means reducing unforced errors. Too often, we get crazy ideas, hit too aggressively, and try shots we’re not good at. Maybe we don’t want to play that patient, soft, dink game (is it too boring?) Hitting spectacular shots are such fun! But are they more fun when they don’t go in the court most of the time? I wonder what my partner thinks.

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]