5 strategies to win more pickleball games

5 steps to improve your pickleball game.

Barrett & Danea Bass



June 26, 2024



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If you are looking to take that extra step to improve your pickleball game, these five strategies could help you beat players who are better than you. Learn how to best target your serve and return of serve, when to advance to the net, how to base your positioning on where the ball is, and where and when you should dink. Plus some drills and games that you can practice with a partner.

Strategy #1: Targeting your serve to your opponent’s inside foot

One of the best ways to win more points in pickleball is targeting your opponent's inside foot. A great time to aim at their inside foot is when you're serving: If you can aim your serve here, it will force your opponent to choose whether he's going to hit a backhand or whether he's going to run around the ball and hit his forehand.

The inside foot of your opponent is not only a great place to target when you're serving, but also when you're dinking.

Strategy #2: Targeting the return of serve

Another pickleball strategy that will help improve your game has to do with targeting the return of serve. If both of your opponents have proven that they can hit a quality drop and drive and then get up to the net, then it's best to target your serve return to the better player on the court, or the person who's more of a threat at the kitchen line. This will keep them back longer and give your team the advantage when it comes to kitchen play.

Strategy #3: Learn when to advance to the net

Another strategy to learn is when to advance to the pickleball net. Many beginner players run to the net after failing to hit a quality third shot, which causes an out-of-control run to the net.

You will want to hit a quality 3rd shot before making your move to the net. You can practice this in the following drill.

The 7-1-1 drill:

  • Your opponent will give you a courtesy feed.

  • Try to hit a drop shot, and then read when you can come forward and when you should stay back.

  • If your drop shot is high or you don't hit a good shot, you should stay back.

  • Practice communicating to your partner about whether you are staying back or moving up.

  • Your opponent will keep feeding you until you hit a good shot.

  • When you hit a good shot, advance to the net.

To learn this whole drill, watch the video above.

Strategy #4: Tracking the ball with your positioning

Another pickleball strategy to help improve your pickleball game is to have the correct positioning on the court — based on where the ball is, where your partner is, and where you are.

For example, if the ball goes crosscourt towards the sideline, you will want your partner to move in front of the ball. You then will want to track your body to the middle area of the court and leave your side area open, because that's the lowest percentage shot for your opponent to make. This will give you the most time to recover, because the ball is going from one corner to another corner.

If the ball comes to the corner, your partner is going to respond by tracking their body to the middle of the court. You will be with the ball on the sideline, which is the same for any point in the entire game.

You will want to move your feet and get your body in position to cut off all the angles that would allow your opponents to attack your team.

Strategy #5: Dink toward the middle

This last strategy that can take your pickleball game to the next level is to use different dinks, and not tie yourself to the crosscourt dink. 

When you’re dinking, you have options: You can go down the line, you can go to the middle, or you can pull back crosscourt. When you only give your opponent the crosscourt dink, you're actually giving them more options.

It's important to learn to dink to the middle — especially if you're playing on the left side. 

If you dink to your opponent's inside foot, they have to choose between their forehand or backand, and their partner has to decide whether to involve themselves into the play. This will create a lot of confusion among your opponents, because it will open up wide angles and allow those crosscourt dinks that you're looking for.