The Strokes and Shots of Pickleball
When playing pickleball, there are some basic shots that beginners should learn to play a competitive game successfully and a few different strokes, which are essentially how you hit the ball. There are fewer strokes to mention, but they are the actions that must happen before a shot takes place.
If you can practice and master these shots that we mention, you will be set to enjoy a game of pickleball. From there, you can build your skills and continue to improve. So, let's break down the different types of strokes and shots to know.
Starting with a Stroke
Since the stroke takes place before the shot occurs, it only makes sense for us to cover them first. Three general types of strokes occur that boil down to groundstrokes, volleys, and dinks.
The overall idea of a groundstroke is that they are any shot made after the ball has bounced. These are the most basic type of stroke that will occur, with most of your shots being groundstrokes.
However, there are two main types of groundstrokes: forehand and backhand. Forehand groundstrokes are primarily used due to the accuracy and force that they can provide you with. They will almost always occur very close to the baseline.
Backhand groundstrokes are surprisingly the most used type of stroke, with them being a popular choice for many players. The best time to use one is anytime the ball goes towards the arm, not bracing your paddle.
A volley occurs anytime the ball is hit before it touches the ground. The placement of the shot does not matter in this situation. As long as it has not yet bounced, then you are good. Due to the ball having more momentum from still being in the air, these strokes tend to be quite forceful. Making them essential to know and to be prepared for.
This type of stoke can be compared to a whisper due to its soft nature and the little bit of force behind it. The hit will occur up near the net in the kitchen area of the court. The idea is that the ball will barely make it over the net, and it will throw your opponent off their game.
It's a hard shot to try and run to if you are further back in your court, so it can set your opponent up for failure if done correctly.
Common Shots to Follow With
Here are some of the most common shots to know for pickleball and to master to do well in the sport. If you can work on these shots and nail them down, you should be able to move on to the more advanced and tricky shots that professionals use.
Serving the Ball
While there is nothing too exciting to mention about serves, they are the staple shot of any pickleball game, so it's worth mentioning. A serve begins any game and needs to occur before any other shots or strokes can happen.
You can check out our introduction to pickleball article to learn more about serves and how to execute them properly.
The main idea behind a drive hit is to have power and hit the ball as hard as possible. The hit should not be used often in a regular match but rather be used offensively. If you see that your opponent has left an opening in their court, it may be an excellent time to use a drive hit.
The idea is that it will be too quick for them to be able to return it. So, an opening is ideal as they would have to run to try and get it. Or, if your opponents are in motion, running at you, it may be the time to hit a drive. If they are in motion, it can be harder for them to return a forceful hit.
The intent behind a lob shot, or a lofted shot as it’s often called, is to hit the ball over your opponent and into the back of their court. It forces your opponent to go on the offensive and move further back in their court when done right. Allowing you time to gather yourself and prepare for your next hit.
When your competitor has to turn and chase down a ball, they are more likely to mess up or panic. This is why lobs are a player’s favorite shot to use in pickleball. However, watch out because if your opponent can properly return it, you will need to react quickly.
With all of the different shots and strokes mentioned, you may be wondering how you can block them or attempt to change the game's tempo. The block shot is your answer. It is a simple move that can slow down any game and help give you the advantage back.
You need to put your paddle up in a backhanded position to hit the ball. That's all you need to do. Do not swing at it, move your paddle anymore, nothing. Put the paddle up in the correct position and allow momentum to help you.
When properly executed, the ball should go just over the net into your opponent's kitchen. This should be a difficult shot for them to return as the ball is falling with little to no new force added to it.
Those are the types of strokes and shots that any new pickleball player should focus on when beginning the sport. From there, more complex and advanced shots such as the third drop shot, centerline ace, or the fake dink are going to seem like nothing to learn and master.
Keep these strokes and shots in mind the next time you go to play pickleball. Or, if you want to begin playing, now's your chance to learn the techniques discussed in this article and begin your pickleball journey.