There are no shortcuts in life, but there can be in pickleball. The 5 tactics in this article will automatically make you win more no matter what. Buckle up your seatbelt, guys. If you’re trapped in 3.0 to 4.0 prison, I’m here to break you out.
But before we get into our first tactic, I want to say that if you love pickleball and want to learn more about it, then please bookmark our website. If you don’t bookmark that means you’re going to miss a lot of really important tips and strategies that are going to help you win in 2023 with the ever-evolving rule changes.
If you haven’t already heard that spin serve has been banned for 2023 play. That means you need to find a new serving strategy if you want to keep your opponents on their toes. What the spin serve has taught us is that getting free points on your serve can be the difference between a win and a loss.
Tactic Number 5
The number five tactic on our list is to mix up your serve. I will say this tactic is especially effective in the 3.0 to 4.0 range. What I mean by mixing up your serve is to alternate between different types of serves rather than using the same serve every time.
This makes it so your opponent can never be fully prepared for what you’re going to do. I personally like to mix mine up between hard topspin drives, lower slices, and higher lob serves. I also try to vary the amount that appended to their forehand and their backhand.
I still believe that the hard topspin serve should be seen as your default option, but occasionally throwing in a changeup can be the perfect surprise to get a few free points here and there.
Everyone has played someone with multiple good serves and we all know that it’s not fun. Take my advice and start throwing in some variety and you’ll always have your opponents on their toes. This is the kind of thing that will give you a quick 1% increase in your game.
Put this together with our other tactics and you can literally get a 5% boost immediately. What’s also crazy is that these tactics can be stacked together. Our next two strategies work together like bread and butter.
Tactic Number 4
At number four on our list, we have the drive drop combo. Regardless of how well you mix up your serve. Your opponent is still going to make their return a majority of the time. That said, most coaches would agree that the strategy of the third shot and the fifth shot are the most important to understand and all of the pickleball.
As someone who’s coached hundreds of players in the 3.0 to 4.0 range, I know most players at this level can’t consistently make their drops. Because of this, I see way too many players become overdependent on their drives because they’re compensating for their poor drops.
If you can’t consistently make your drops, sure you should be hitting more drives, but you should definitely be trying to use drops whenever it’s comfortable.
The drive drop combo is when you hit a drive that lures your opponent into hitting a shorter volley. As you know this shot is shorter and easier, you use a drop that you can follow into the kitchen. This play is infinitely better than going for two reckless drives in a row. A key thing to think about here is that you keep your drive low.
Obviously, give yourself some margin, but the lower you can keep the ball here, the more likely they are to pop the ball up if you can get them to hit it short. This is your ticket in. The drop should be way easier to hit in the transition zone.
If they hit it deep, then you can still try this play again on the next drive. The reason I’m telling you this is because drops are not easy. It can take months to years of playing before you consistently make them in.
This play can be your training wheels for figuring out how to implement the drop into your game. That said, your end goal should still be to master the drop. In the long run, this will be what gets you to the highest level. But if you’re looking for short-term results, then this play could be the perfect solution for you.
Tactic Number 3
Moving on, our next tip goes hand in hand with our third shot strategy. That’s right. I’m talking about stacking. I personally think that stacking is one of the most overlooked strategies in pickleball.
Many players are actually afraid of it because if you’re not using it properly, it can actually hurt you. So make sure to pay close attention to this section if you want to benefit from stacking.
Just think regardless of who you’re playing with, one player will be inherently better on one side. So why would they ever switch? Also, the more that player gets used to that side, the more dominant they will become.
There’s a reason that when you watch the pros, so many of them are using this strategy. I’m not going to go too deep into how stacking works. Just know that there are two main areas in which you can benefit from it.
The first and most important is if you favor one side when in a drinking situation, think if you can’t hit a back-end dink to save your life and it’s your partner’s best shot, you should probably play the right side every time.
This way most of the shots will come to you as forehands and they can guard your backhand with their forehand. The second way stacking can be beneficial is on the third shot. Generally, the player that’s serving on the inside will have a much higher likelihood of catching the third shot.
So you can organize your stacking to where the player with the better third shot hits that most of the time. These are the kind of things that can make the world of a difference during a game.
One thing I’ll say, most random players that open play won’t want to do this, but if you have a partner that you’re comfortable with and play with a lot, share this article with them so that you can master stacking together. This could really make you a better team.
Tactic Number 2
But actually, guys, if you like these tactics so far, just wait till you find out what we have waiting for you at number one. It’s literally a necessity that every pickleball player knows it. But first, I want to talk about the most infamous shot on the list. The lob.
Lobbing is the kind of thing that’s ultra-effective against certain types of players. More specifically, players that don’t move well or that don’t have good overhead technique. So definitely do not try this against me. Just kidding. I’ve been a victim of the lob plenty of times, and if you’re reading this article, you probably have them too.
That being said, there’s no better feeling than doing this to your opponents and watching them turn around and run like chickens. The most effective time to go for a lob is when all four players are in a dinking situation.
Try to go over the backhand side of whatever player you feel is worse at handling the shot. Going over to the forehand side will make it easier for them to hit an overhead. The key is that you find the right height to where they can’t reach it yet, It won’t sail long. This will take a little bit of practice.
If you figure out that your opponents really can’t handle them, lobs from the back of the court can be effective too. But this is definitely riskier because you just don’t have quite as good of an angle. That said, this shot generally arises from a dinking situation.
In order to catch your opponent off guard, though, you need to make sure that you’re an effective dinker. This way they’ll be ready to react to a short dink when, surprise ! the ball goes over their head. The key is that you consistently practice your dinking to make sure that you’re ultra-consistent.
The dink pad is the perfect way to practice your short game where ever you want no partner necessary, you can even practice your lobs too. If you’re the type of player that needs to work on the accuracy of your dinks, volleys, or any other pickleball shot. Click Here and check out the dink pad.
Tactic Number 1
All right, guys, our last tip of the day is something that can cost you the match if you don’t focus on it. Have you ever been playing with someone worse than you and never seen a ball?
You couldn’t even try to carry the team because the only time they hit the ball to you, it was getting smashed in your face. You might as well just be watching from the bench. Our number one tactic is to target the weaker player on the opposing team.
But before you say, well, obviously this doesn’t mean that you should hit the ball to them every time. There are a few key shots that make the most sense. It’s especially smart to go for the weaker player on your third shot and your returns. This way you start off every point with a higher likelihood of success.
In general, though, try to hit 70 to 80% of your shots to the weaker player, the more of a gap between their levels, the more strictly you should follow the strategy. And the added bonus to this is that if you’re hitting most of your shots at one player, their partner tends to fall asleep.
So don’t be afraid to occasionally surprise the better player with a tough shot that they’re not ready for. If your opponents are similar level, this may not work quite as well, but you can almost always find someone on the other team to be weaker in certain parts of the court.
One player might have weaker volleys and one player might have a horrible third shot. The key is that you experiment to figure this all out. Trust me, you don’t want to be the nice guy that hits an equal amount of shots to both players so that everyone’s happy. Play every game to win.