Winning Moves: Comprehensive Pickleball Strategy Guides for Advanced Play

Feb 14, 2024 | How To, Rules, Tips and Tricks

In the world of advanced pickleball play, mastering key strategies is essential for success on the court. This comprehensive guide will delve into winning moves that can elevate your game to the next level.

Key Takeaways

  • Focus on developing a variety of serves to keep your opponents guessing.
  • Work on your net game to control the pace of the match and put pressure on your opponents.
  • Strategic court positioning is crucial for covering all areas of the court effectively.
  • Communication and coordination with your partner are key to moving as a cohesive team.
  • Mastering the drop shot can be a game-changer in breaking your opponent’s rhythm.

Mastering the Serve

Mastering the Serve

The Power Serve

The Power Serve in pickleball is a formidable weapon that can set the tone for the entire point. It’s all about delivering a high-velocity shot that challenges your opponent right from the get-go. Perfecting this serve requires a combination of strength, precision, and strategic placement.

To execute a Power Serve effectively, follow these steps:

  1. Stand at the baseline with your feet shoulder-width apart for stability.
  2. Toss the ball slightly in front of you to ensure a forward momentum.
  3. Swing your paddle with a firm wrist, hitting the ball at the highest point possible.
  4. Aim for the deepest part of the opponent’s court to limit their return options.

Remember, the goal of the Power Serve is not just to overpower your opponent but to force them into a defensive position from which you can dictate the play.

While the Power Serve is a great tool, it’s important to mix it up with other serves to keep your opponent guessing. Balance power with placement and variation to maintain the upper hand in your service games.

The Slice Serve

The slice serve in pickleball is a strategic stroke that adds a spin to the ball, causing it to curve and skid, making it difficult for the opponent to predict and return effectively. Mastering the slice serve can significantly enhance your service game, providing you with a tactical edge. To execute a slice serve, you need to hit the ball with a side motion, grazing the ball with your paddle at an angle.

  • Start with the paddle behind and slightly under the ball.
  • Swing your arm laterally while maintaining a firm wrist.
  • Contact the ball on its outside part to impart the desired spin.

The key to a successful slice serve lies in the consistency of your swing and the angle of contact. Practice is essential to find the sweet spot that maximizes both the curve and the skid of the ball.

Remember, the slice serve is not just about power; it’s about precision and placement. Aim for the weaker side of your opponent or try to place the serve where it’s most challenging for them to reach. This serve is particularly effective in doubles play, where it can disrupt the receiving team’s positioning and strategy.

The Lob Serve

The lob serve in pickleball is a strategic play that can catch your opponents off-guard and force them to reposition. It’s a high-arcing shot aimed deep into the opponent’s court, designed to push them back and create openings for you to exploit. When executed correctly, it can be a game-changer, especially against players who prefer to dominate the net.

To master the lob serve, consider the following steps:

  1. Stand at the baseline with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Toss the ball higher than usual, aiming for a peak well above the net.
  3. Strike the ball with an upward motion, using a paddle face that’s slightly open.
  4. Aim for the back third of the opponent’s court, focusing on depth rather than power.

The offensive lob is a critical shot that can help push your opponents back in the court to give you more space to win a rally. Embrace offensive lobs as part of your strategic arsenal.

Remember, the lob serve isn’t just a defensive move; it can be an assertive strategy when used proactively. Practice varying the depth and placement of your lobs to keep your opponents guessing and off-balance.

Dominating the Net

Dominating the Net

The Volley Game

In advanced pickleball play, dominating the net is crucial for controlling the game and putting pressure on your opponents. The volley game is all about reflexes, precision, and strategic placement. When you’re up at the net, you’re in the best position to dictate the pace and direction of the play.

To excel in the volley game, consider the following points:

  • Anticipation is key. Watch your opponents’ body language and paddle position to predict their next shot.
  • Positioning is everything. Stand close enough to the net to cover angles but far enough back to react to fast volleys.
  • Soft hands are essential. Keep a loose grip on the paddle for better control and to soften the ball’s return.

Remember, the goal is not just to return the ball, but to place it where it challenges your opponent the most.

Understanding your opponents’ tendencies can give you an edge. For instance, if you’re facing a counterpuncher, mixing up your shots can be effective. Avoid predictable patterns and use well-placed drop shots and lobs to disrupt their rhythm. Patience is a virtue in these exchanges, as it can force errors or create openings for a winning shot.

The Poach Move

The poach move in pickleball doubles is a dynamic play that can shift the momentum of the game in your favor. Timing and coordination with your partner are crucial when executing a successful poach. It’s a proactive strategy where you cross into your partner’s territory to intercept a shot, typically a return of serve or a soft dink, aiming to catch your opponents off-guard and take control of the rally.

  • Identify the right moment: Wait for a weak return from your opponents or when they are out of position.
  • Communicate with your partner: Make sure your partner is aware of your intention to poach so they can adjust their position accordingly.
  • Move decisively: Quick lateral movement and a firm volley are key to a successful poach.

The poach move is not just about being aggressive; it’s about being smart. Recognize when your opponents are vulnerable and seize the opportunity to apply pressure.

Remember, poaching is not without risks. Miscommunication or mistiming can leave your side of the court exposed. Practice this move with your partner to develop a seamless understanding of when and how to poach effectively.

The Drop Shot

The drop shot in pickleball is a nuanced stroke that can significantly shift the momentum of the game. Unlike a power-packed smash, the drop shot relies on finesse and precise placement to catch your opponent off-guard. The strategic purpose of the drop shot is to move your opponent forward, forcing them to hit upwards and allowing you to take control of the net.

When executed correctly, a drop shot arcs gently over the net, landing softly in the opponent’s kitchen, or non-volley zone. This requires a combination of soft hands, a relaxed grip, and a fluid swing. Here’s a simple breakdown of the technique:

  • Begin with a balanced stance, weight on your toes.
  • Use a continental grip for better control.
  • Swing with a pendulum motion, leading with your shoulder.
  • Contact the ball at its apex to ensure a downward trajectory.
  • Aim for the opponent’s kitchen, ideally near the sidelines to maximize their movement.

Remember, the drop shot is not just about getting the ball over the net; it’s about placement and patience. It sets up your next move, so plan ahead.

Practicing the drop shot can be a game-changer, especially when you’re looking to transition from defense to offense. It’s a skill that requires repetition and can be honed through drills focusing on touch and control. Incorporate this shot into your practice sessions, and watch how it adds a new layer to your strategic play.

Strategic Court Positioning

Strategic Court Positioning

Covering the Middle

In advanced pickleball play, covering the middle of the court is a critical strategy for maintaining control of the game. This area is often referred to as ‘the kitchen’ and is a hot zone for exchanges. When both players focus on this zone, they reduce the risk of leaving gaps for opponents to exploit.

  • Communicate with your partner to establish who takes the shot.
  • Anticipate the ball’s trajectory to position yourself effectively.
  • React quickly to volleys and return them with precision.

By mastering the middle, you create pressure on your opponents, forcing them to make more difficult shots and increasing your chances of winning the point.

Understanding the dynamics of the middle court can turn the tide of a match. It’s not just about being quick; it’s about being smart. Always have clear roles for covering the middle and line, and recover to cover the middle after dinking. This will compel your opponents into a less advantageous position, often leading to a crosscourt dink battle that you can dominate.

Playing the Baseline

In advanced pickleball play, mastering the baseline is crucial for maintaining a strategic advantage. Players who excel at baseline play can dictate the pace of the game, forcing opponents to engage in long rallies that test endurance and precision. A key tactic is the ‘serve deep to baseline‘ strategy, which leverages the full length of the court, maximizing the distance your opponent must cover and opening up the court for potential weaknesses.

When playing from the baseline, it’s essential to have a repertoire of shots. Here’s a quick rundown:

  • Deep serves: Keep your opponent at bay.
  • Groundstrokes: Drive the ball with power or finesse.
  • Lobs: Overhead shots that can reset the point or catch an opponent off-guard.

Positioning is just as important as the shots you play. Stay centered to cover the most court, and be ready to move laterally. Quick footwork and anticipation are your best allies here.

Remember, the baseline is not just a defensive position. It’s a launchpad for your offensive plays, setting up opportunities for winning shots.

By combining powerful serves, strategic groundstrokes, and smart positioning, you can turn the baseline into a stronghold that challenges even the most agile opponents.

Moving as a Team

In advanced pickleball play, moving as a team is crucial for maintaining court coverage and applying pressure on opponents. This strategy requires both players to move in sync, anticipating each other’s moves and adapting quickly to the flow of the game.

Effective team movement is not just about physical agility; it’s about shared understanding and communication. It’s essential to develop non-verbal signals and to have a keen sense of where your partner is at all times.

Here are some key principles for moving as a team:

  • Communication: Establish signals for common plays.
  • Anticipation: Predict your partner’s moves and the opponents’ shots.
  • Positioning: Stay equidistant to each other to cover the court effectively.
  • Rotation: Rotate seamlessly to handle a variety of shots.

By mastering these principles, you’ll create a dynamic defense and a formidable offense. Remember, the best teams move as one unit, constantly adjusting and supporting each other to outmaneuver the competition.


So there you have it, folks! With these comprehensive pickleball strategy guides for advanced play, you’re all set to dominate the court and outsmart your opponents. Remember to practice, stay focused, and most importantly, have fun while playing pickleball! See you on the court!