Top 7 mistakes made by beginner pickleball players

Here are our top 7 beginner pickleball player mistakes made.

Jaclyn Brandt

pickleball for beginners


February 26, 2024

What basic skills do you need to get started as a beginner in pickleball?



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When you are first learning to play pickleball, you are bound to make a lot of mistakes. But knowing your mistakes can help you fix them. Here are our top 7 mistakes made by beginner pickleball players.

Taking your eyes off the ball

One of the first things you learn when you are playing sports, even from a very young age, is “do not take your eyes off the ball.” This is true for pickleball as well. As a beginner, keeping your eye on the ball will help you see exactly where it is, how fast it’s coming, and what angle you need to hit it at.

Even if the ball is not coming to you at that moment, or if you think you are already going to hit it, or if you have already hit it back to your opponent, you should always know where it is at all times.

Trying to hit balls that should be “out”

When you are a beginner pickleball player, it’s so easy to want to try to return every ball that comes your direction. But as you begin to play more, you will begin to sense when certain returns will land in or out of the court — based on the speed, direction, angle, and height.

As you play, start to pay attention to what a return looks like when it lands just inside the lines or outside the lines. Notice how fast and what angle the ball is at, so you can start to predict when a ball will be in or out in the future.

Not moving your feet

If you play any sport, you may already know that moving your feet isn’t just important when you are in the middle of the play. It’s also important because moving your feet at all times will keep you ready for when it’s time to make a play. Constantly keeping your feet moving will keep you in the play and ready to move in any direction at a moment’s notice.


As a beginner pickleball player, the ball seems like it moved pretty fast. As you play the game more, everything will slow down and you will be able to grasp what is happening.

But in the beginning, the fast play may be pretty overwhelming. You may also be overthinking what you are supposed to do, and panicking may seem like the best response. One of the best skills you can learn in pickleball is to be patient, learn everything you can about the game, and stay calm.

Not practicing

You can watch hours of pickleball videos, play in tournaments, and buy all the gear — but there is no replacement for practicing pickleball as a beginner (or at any other level). Pickleball has become so popular over the years that many towns have at least one option or two for playing —  or tennis courts where you can make your own game.

The players who usually improve the fastest are the ones who are constantly practicing their skills, whether it’s out on the court or drills you can do at home.

Trying to be too fancy before you have the skills

Pro and high-level pickleball players do some really cool tricks. They can spin the ball, make it land wherever they want it to, lead their opponent where they want them to go, and do so many other moves that are fun to watch.

If you keep practicing, you may be able to get that level, but until you do, you should be practicing the basics and playing with others who are at the same level as you (or slightly above).

Rushing when serving

Your position in pickleball is incredibly important, in every moment of a game. Whether it’s a serve, return, or rally, where you are standing can determine a win or loss. 

Just after you serve the ball, there is sometimes the urge to rush to the kitchen line. You will be serving the ball deep into your opponent’s zone — between the kitchen line and baseline, and cross-court from where you are standing.

They will likely also be returning the ball deep into your zone, and you will also need to let it bounce on the first return. If you rush the net before this happens, you may be ahead of the bounce and will not be able to return the ball.

If you are on the non-serving side, you can move up to the kitchen as soon as you return the serve.

If you are the server, you can move up to the kitchen line as soon as you return the serve return.

Avoid these beginner pickleball mistakes

Knowing the mistakes you can make as a beginner pickleball player is the first step to avoiding those mistakes. As you play more, learn everything you can and practice every chance you get. You will start to learn why people make these mistakes, and also how much easier the game gets as soon as you start avoiding them.