7 Easy Comeback Strategies for Pickleball Players of Any Skill Level

Written by Adam (HV)

September 1, 2022

comeback strategies for pickleball

 Who doesn’t love a good upset comeback?

In pickleball, momentum plays a huge part in many games, especially when your skill levels are equal. 

But unfortunately momentum is a two way street. If you make one too many errors, what could be an equal game could slip through your fingers. We’ve all been there.

What separates the good players from the great ones are the tactics you know and use to stop a loss and get the momentum back on your side.

Today we’re going to cover a few easy in-game adjustments you can make whenever you find yourself down in points that will help you shift momentum, get back in the game, and maybe even come out with a win.

Watch the full video here.

Why Is This Important?

Momentum swings happen all the time in pickleball.

When you’re trying to shift momentum and stop a loss, the goals are to eliminate unforced errors and avoid risk. Just by implementing one of these tips in this video can help you accomplish those things.

How to Make a Comeback in Pickleball in 7 Easy Steps

1. Stack with Your Partner

Stacking is a strategy that rearranges players on the court. For example, let’s say that I’m struggling with my third shot drops or my backhand dinks and I’m on the odd side or the left side. To stack, I will move to my partner’s right side when they serve so they can have a better chance of taking the third shot. After they serve, they shift over to the left side of the court and I stay on the right side.

The person on this side will normally see more shots because they take the forehand down the middle on third shots and generally more backhand dinks. 

If your partner is having more success with third shots, try stacking to give your partner more opportunities so that you can at least get to the net. 

Also, just by switching positions on the court could force your opponents to think about where they want to return the ball and this visual shift could be enough to disrupt your opponent’s focus and trigger an error on the serve return. It may sound strange, but slight visual changes like this can work. This idea applies to when you’re playing defense. You switch sides on defense by using hand signals.

2. Play High Percentage Shots in Pickleball 

If you’re down in points and looking to get back into the game, you will want to focus on hitting the ball in high percentage areas of the court. 

For example, you’ll want to hit to these parts of the court because you have a higher percentage chance of keeping the ball in. There’s more risk involved with low percentage shots.

For example – when you’re hitting a third shot, hit to the middle. The net is two inches lower in the middle compared to the edges and by hitting in the middle, you will force your opponents to think and communicate who will hit your shot. This gives you a greater chance of not only neutralizing your opponent, but setting up the rally in your favor and winning the point.

3. Call your shots

Calling your shots is a simple but effective way to eliminate confusion on the court. 1 point lost due to a lack of communication or a misunderstanding of who was hitting it is one point too many. As soon as this happens, talk with your partner and commit to calling shots early and out loud. A few shots you’ll want to call are:

  • Serve returns
  • Shots in the kitchen, especially dinks to the middle
  • Overheads or lobs

4. Clear the Net

If you’re going to make an error, it’s best to at least clear the net and hit the ball too high rather than too low and into the net. For example, if you’re struggling with your third shot, don’t worry about being perfect and just get the ball over the net. By keeping the ball in play, you force your opponent to hit the ball and increase their chances of making an error. To take it a step further, aim for the middle or the backhand side. This will help your chances of staying in the rally for longer.

When you’re down in points and you’re climbing out of a hole, anytime you’re in the transition zone, choose to fault over the net. Even if it’s a high third, at least force your opponent to hit the ball. 

If you’re struggling to hit solid shots in the transition zone, just focus on keeping the ball over the net. Don’t worry about being perfect. After all, it’s better to 

If you’re going to make an error, it’s better to error over the net instead of into the net.

For example, if your third shots are doing well, keep getting the ball over the net because at least you’re forcing your opponent to hit the ball. By doing this, you increase your chances of your opponent making an error. 

This is also simple, but it is often underutilized. 

If you’re going to fault, fault high over the net

At least force your opponent to hit the ball

If you’re struggling with drop shots in the transition zone in a particular game, don’t worry about being perfect. 

5. Attack from the green zone only

If you’re down in points and you’re climbing your way out of a rut, choose not to attack balls from below your waist. This is an easy way to avoid risks and to time your attacks correctly.

To only attack balls in the green zone and not attack balls in the red zone. There is more risk involved with attacking a shot in the red zone.

6. Switch up your shots 

By switching up your shots and being unpredictable, you can throw off your opponent and earn points when you normally don’t. For example, if you’ve been hitting normal serves and all of a sudden throw in a lob serve, this can throw your opponent off and force an error. 

7. Avoid your opponent’s strengths

This may sound simple, but if you know your opponents and their strengths, choose to avoid those until you can get back into the game. 

For example, if one of your opponents has a great forehand, hit the ball to their backhand.   

If your opponent likes the fast balls, choose to slow down the pace, reset the ball, and only attack when you have a clear winner. 

8. Isolate your opponent

If you know one of your opponent’s is significantly weaker than the other, you and your partner can choose to isolate this person and only hit the ball to him or her. This tactic is popular in tournaments and while it’s not always a great idea in recreational play, it still works, so just be mindful of the situation before you choose to isolate a player.

BONUS. Call a timeout (for tournaments) 

Last but not least, if you’re playing a tournament and you’re down in the points and you feel your opponent’s get some momentum, call a timeout. This is a great way to minimize their momentum, and it will also give you and your partner some time to catch your breath and create a strategy for getting back into the game.

Were These Pickleball Tips Helpful?

Which tip was helpful for you? Let me know in the comments.

path to better pickleball

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