5 CRITICAL Mistakes Every Beginner Pickleball Player Should Avoid

Written by Adam (HV)

October 23, 2022

beginner pickleball

Starting out in pickleball is fun because the learning curve is relatively easy. But being a beginner has its downsides: it can be uncomfortable to make mistakes and you can get stuck in your progression if you don’t avoid a few common mistakes. 

Today, we’re going to cover the top mistakes players make when starting out and how to avoid them. If you’re starting out, don’t worry. Everyone was a beginner at some point and I’ve personally made every mistake possible.

It’s my hope that with this video you’ll learn how to avoid those mistakes that can hold you back, discover an easier learning curve, and get practical tips that can set you up for long term success.

Watch the full video here.

Beginner Pickleball Mistake 1: Avoiding the Soft Game

When you’re starting out in pickleball, you may want to hit the ball hard and drive every shot. This is fun, but this will only take you so far because when you’re standing further away from the net, players can easily hit the ball at your feet. If you want a fast track to progressing at pickleball, you must get comfortable playing at the non volley zone and hitting softer shots like dinks and drops.

If you only hit hard shots and never learn to hit softer shots like dinks and or drops, you will eventually get to a point where players can return your drives easily and you may even hit a plateau. In my experience, it was more difficult to start with only driving the ball and then learning to soften up my shots instead of the other way around. Instead of starting from the back with fast paced shots, start with soft shots at the kitchen with dinks and then progress into harder shots. Learning the soft game will not only make you a more dynamic player, but it will be a fast track to getting to the non volley zone and dominating the net faster. 

Beginner Pickleball Mistake 2: Avoiding Your Weaknesses

Every player at every skill level has strengths and weaknesses. But when you’re starting out, you may be tempted to avoid your weakness. For example, you may run around your backhand. Not only is it obvious but players can easily exploit it. Instead, work on your weaknesses. Make a list of what they are or ask a friend, then commit to working on them or drilling them. You may be surprised at how fast you can turn a weakness into a weapon.

Beginner Pickleball Mistake 3: Attacking the Ball from Below Your Knees

A common mistake for players of all levels is to attack from below your knees at the net. This is also referred to as the red zone. When you’re at the net or you’re transitioning to the net, you may want to attack balls or hit them hard because it feels like the right thing to do, but the better approach is to return an unattackable shot into your opponent’s kitchen.

Beginner Pickleball Mistake 4: Not Respecting the Net

When you’re hitting shots, you may want to be perfect and get the shot just over the net. But no one is perfect and there are a ton of variables that effect a shot. A better approach is to pay your respects to the net. With every shot give plenty of margin for error. A high ball over the net is better than one in the net that ends the rally.

Beginner Pickleball Mistake 5: Not Getting to the Net

Many players starting out in doubles pickleball will hang out near the baseline. Some people are afraid to get hit with the ball and others would rather hit the ball hard. But in doubles pickleball, the most advantageous place you can be is at the non volley zone an inch or two behind the line because the team that controls the net controls the game. Instead of hitting a third shot and watching it or just choosing to hang out near the baseline, focus on hitting an unattackable drop shot that gives you the time to get to the net. If you’re not sure how to hit a drop shot or long dink, check out the video I did on 3rd shot drops. I’ll leave a link in the description.

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