Pickleball is a fantastic sport that's easy to get started with, which is why it's gaining popularity so rapidly. However, becoming a true master at it can be quite challenging, as it demands quick and sometimes intricate decision-making. As a newcomer, you might develop some bad habits that hinder your progress towards becoming a skilled pickleball player. Let's explore five common mistakes made by beginners:
|5 Mistakes to Avoid as a Beginner in Pickleball
1. Hurrying During Serving
Pickleball is known for its fast-paced nature, with points being played quickly and with minimal breaks. Consequently, many players feel the urge to rush when it's their turn to serve. You might observe players hastily approaching the service line and hitting the ball without taking a moment to gather themselves. To enhance consistency and accuracy, it's crucial to remain composed and relaxed during your serve.
- Tip: To counter the habit of rushing, establish a routine you can follow each time you serve. Consider bouncing the ball a couple of times or taking a brief pause to look at your opponent before serving.
2. Taking Eyes Off the Ball
Maintaining focus on the ball is a fundamental skill in pickleball, but it can be deceptively challenging. It's common for beginners to divert their attention from the ball, perhaps by glancing at their opponent or getting distracted by the surroundings. This often results in mishits, completely missing the ball, or sending it out of bounds due to a premature head movement.
- Tip: Practice hitting against a wall on your own to get accustomed to tracking the ball with your eyes. This allows you to eliminate distractions and improve your focus. Once you've developed this habit, try practicing with an opponent to test your ability to maintain concentration.
3. Wearing Inappropriate Footwear
When new players step onto the pickleball court, they might focus on having a new paddle and looking at the part, but they often overlook the importance of proper footwear. Wearing running shoes, for example, can be a big mistake. The right shoes are crucial for the sport because no matter how good your technique and skills are, if your shoes hinder your movement and agility, it will negatively impact your game.
- Tip: Invest in well-fitted tennis or pickleball-specific shoes. These shoes offer the necessary support to move quickly in multiple directions, reducing the risk of injuries to your feet and joints. Having the right shoes can significantly enhance your performance on the court.
4. Neglecting Footwork
When you step onto the pickleball court for the first few times, it's normal to feel intimidated. The sight of a fast-moving plastic yellow ball coming towards you can be unnerving. Trying to make contact with the ball and control its direction into the court simultaneously is no easy task! Adding Footwork to the equation can make things even more overwhelming for beginners. It can feel like there's just too much to think about. As a result, foot speed tends to suffer. You might find yourself standing still and staring at the ball you just hit, only to be caught off guard when it's fired back at you.
The key to improving Footwork is not to push yourself above your current skill level too soon. When the ball travels at high speeds, you have less time to process what's happening and react accordingly.
- Tip: Find a drilling partner who allows you enough time to hit the ball and practice moving your feet to the correct position. With more experience, your processing speed will improve, and eventually, you'll be able to hit and move automatically, making your game more efficient and effective.
It's understandable that you might feel the pressure not to let your partner down, especially if you've just met them during free play. First impressions can be nerve-wracking! Many players panic and worry about what their partner will think of their performance. But here's the truth: most of the time, your partner will be just as concerned about their game and not judge you harshly. Everyone is there to enjoy the game, and it's crucial not to forget that.
- Tip: Remember that all players are on the court because they love pickleball. The next time you feel the urge to panic or get frustrated with yourself, take a deep breath and remind yourself to have fun. Enjoy the sport and the camaraderie with your partner and opponents.
Improving at pickleball is a journey that requires time, patience, and practice. While playing matches is enjoyable, it won't be enough to take your skills to the next level. Dedicate some time to drilling and honing your techniques. Strive for a good balance between drilling and matchplay to enhance your overall performance.