I have found the many players have difficulty learning how to develop a successful pickleball strategy in a match. There is a tendency to just keep dinking without purpose, or to get bored and try to create something out of nothing. Today we discuss the basics of creating a pickleball strategy.
Whether you play with someone regularly or are with a new partner, it is important to create a plan for every match. In both cases, talk about your respective strengths and weaknesses. Talk about how you might work around those weaknesses. Also, talk about each of your strengths and how you might set up your partner to succeed. For example, if I have someone with a really strong forehand I want to find ways to get them that shot. I would want to encourage them to poach when an opportunity is created. And I would be trying to create that opportunity.
Testing things Out
Have you ever played against a team that you felt pretty even with and then the match rapidly went south? One thing more advanced players do effectively is to feel out the other team. They might begin my focusing as much as possible on just one opponent. Think about how difficult it feels when two people are ganging up on you. They are analyzing that player’s strengths and weaknesses. If they have success, they may continue this. If not, they might redirect all their focus to the other player, again looking to learn as much about his or her tendencies as they can.
They may try to determine if their opponent has an “enforcer” and if so, do they prefer that role on a particular side of the court. Perhaps both players are the enforcers. They work to determine the strength and weaknesses of their opponent and make sure they communicate that to their partner.
It might be as simple as:
- We are having difficulty returning Player A’s return of serve, so let’s try to return to Player B;
- Backhands are in the middle;
- When you are cross court from Player B she has difficulty with your great cross court dinks;
- They seem to like pace, let’s try to slow it down.
Squirrels, Waiting, and Creating
When you watch high-level players we are working certain strategies over and over again. Look closely to see them isolating a backhand…a person… trying to hit deep to their feet to create an upward angle, or shorter to pull them in. The more you watch players and notice the patterns the more you will see the strategies at work.
When I first started playing pickleball I didn’t understand the strategies as I do now. I call that my days of “waiting” in pickleball. I was always waiting for something to happen but didn’t really understand why it was happening. Now I call it my days of “creating”! I am constantly working some strategy to open up the court, set up my partner or create an error. I like to be in control of the outcomes rather than reacting to my opponents.