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Beginner Pickleball: The Ultimate Guide to Your First 5 Skills

Beginner Pickleball The Ultimate Guide to Your First 5 Skills
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The Ultimate Pickleball Guide

Imagine stepping onto the pickleball court, paddle in hand, ready to join the fun of this fast-growing sport. But wait, where do you even start? The rules, the shots, the lingo – it can all feel a bit overwhelming!

Don’t worry, we’ve got your back. In this guide, we’ll break down the five essential skills you need to know to start playing pickleball with confidence.

Skill 1: Master the Ready Stance

Your pickleball journey starts with a solid foundation – the ready stance. Here’s how to get into this go-to position:

  • Knees Bent: Stay light on your feet with a slight bend in your knees, like you’re getting ready to spring into action.
  • Weight Balanced: Distribute your weight evenly for quick reactions. Imagine you could be nudged in any direction without losing your balance.
  • Paddle Ready: Hold your paddle in front of you, head up, ready for action. Think of it like a tennis player awaiting a serve.

Why it Matters: The ready stance lets you move swiftly in any direction, which is crucial in a fast-paced game like pickleball. Think of it as your pickleball superpower!

Skill 2: Conquer the Dink

The dink is your best friend, especially in those early matches. This gentle shot aims to drop the ball just over the net, landing softly in the kitchen (the no-volley zone).

  • Gentle Touch: Think of tapping the ball, not smashing it. Imagine you’re trying to drop an egg without breaking it.
  • Continental Grip: Switch to this grip for better dink control. It’s how most players do it! Here’s a short video explaining the Continental Grip
  • Common Mistake: Don’t overpower your dink or it might fly out of bounds. Focus on a soft touch and a slightly upward paddle angle to get that perfect arc.
  • Pro-tip: Aim for the middle of your opponent’s side! This makes their return shot more difficult.

Skill 3: Power Up Your Forehand

The forehand is your go-to groundstroke. Here’s the breakdown:

  • Underhand Swing: Similar to a tennis swing, but make sure you’re contacting the ball below your waist.
  • Hitting Zone: Aim to hit the ball slightly in front of your body for the best power and control. Practice finding that “sweet spot” on your paddle.
  • Follow-Through: Continue your swing upward for a smooth finish. This helps with both power and accuracy.

Skill 4: Own the Backhand

This stroke is very similar to the forehand, but with a slight twist:

  • Across the Body: Your swing will cross your body from your non-dominant side towards your dominant side.
  • Contact Point: Aim to hit the ball slightly outside your opposite hip.
  • Keep it Simple: Don’t overcomplicate it – focus on that same underhand swing motion. Start with a shorter swing for more control as you learn.

Skill 5: Ace the Low Serve

The serve starts every point in pickleball. Here’s the goal:

  • Behind the Baseline: Both feet must stay behind the back line until after you hit the ball.
  • Underhand Hit: Use a smooth underhand motion, aiming towards the diagonal service box.
  • Land it Deep: Aim to get the ball just over the net and landing deep in the kitchen on the other side to give your opponent a tricky return.


  • Hitting the net? Tilt your paddle face slightly upward.
  • Going too long? Check your toss and shorten your swing.
  • Bonus Tip: Practice your serve without an opponent first to get the motion down.

Ready to Level Up?

Mastering these five skills is a fantastic start! If you’re eager to learn more, here are a few advanced techniques to explore:

  • The Third Shot Drop: Set yourself up for a winning point.
  • Blocking: Defend against your opponent’s power shots.
  • Lob: Send the ball high over your opponent when they’re at the net.

Remember, everyone starts somewhere! Start with these basics, and don’t be afraid to try new things. Celebrate your progress, ask questions, and most of all, have a blast on the pickleball court. We’re a friendly community – share your wins and questions in the comments below!

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