The Most Common and Most Deadly Pickleball Mistake

There is one pickleball mistake that I see more often than any other.  I see it among the most players.  And I see it repeatedly during a game.  It also happens to be one of the most deadly things we can do.  Any guesses?

pickleball mistake
NVZ Pickleball Mistake

Though we can do this anywhere on the court, we most often see it at the non-volley zone line.  After making contact with the ball we drop that paddle down pointing at the ground.  As we watch the ball fly over the net, our paddle drops down and our body is pulled down with it.   Now in order to get to the next ball, we have to go twice the distance.

Pickleball Mistakes have Consequences

Instead of our paddle being in a forward tracking position making our stroke a simple A TO B motion we now have to go A to H in order to get to the next ball.  Often times I see players making a big circle with their paddle.   You may think it only takes a second, but that second has consequences:

  • Time:  Split seconds are crucial in pickleball.  Don’t waste a second returning your paddle to the proper position.
  • Excess Motion:  Every unnecessary motion you make increases the chances of errors.
  • Less Time/More Motion:  This is a deadly combination!  You want to be set, in position before the ball is returned.
Tough Habit to Break

pickleball mistakeThis is a tough habit to break.  However, if you learn to look with your paddle instead of your head you can improve.   To practice keeping your paddle up and forward, get a partner to play a simple game of catch with you.  Stand 12-14 feet apart. Get into your happy, ready position and play toss with the ball. Pretend your hands are the paddle.  After you release the ball from your hand, keep both hands up in the center of your chest.  Not at your side…not resting on your body.

Toss the ball underhand from your shoulder.  Freely move your arm forward away from your body.   You want to catch the next ball near where the tossed ball left your hand.  If you watch skilled players, you will note that their paddle handle follows that same line.

Start watching the people you play with and see where their paddles are finishing. Does the paddle drop to the ground after every shot or is it following the ball?   The more you start to recognize it around you the more you will see it in yourself. The more your paddle stays up and forward the more direct route you will have to the ball. Keeping it as simple as you can from A TO B will minimize this deadly pickleball mistake.

One thought on “The Most Common and Most Deadly Pickleball Mistake

  1. Great stuff Sarah. I do have one comment when talking about mistakes. I’m new to the sport and I find myself getting out of position or scrambling quite often. Definitely due to leaving my “lazy paddle”(Gigi term) but also not practicing enough on my sinking/drop volley. I’ve relied on my younger legs too much and I do a ton of scrambling. Learned a lot from your buds, keep it up.

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