Caution – Bad Pickleball Advice Ahead
Most of us started our pickleball journey learning from the pickleball enthusiasts who preceded us. The sport was passed down to us from the court elders or the group’s pickleball experts who shared their nuggets of wisdom.
“Stand up there when I am returning serve.”
“The first team to serve only gets 1 serve.”
“After the third shot, get to the kitchen as fast as you can.”
And so on. Some of the wisdom passed down to us by other pickleball players was good advice. In fact, it was necessary so that we could learn the rules of the game.
But some of the advice we received, particularly before we had a better understanding of pickleball, could fall under the category of bad pickleball advice because in most cases, it proved counterproductive to our improvement.
This is not to say that those who taught us did so with anything but the best of intentions. We are thankful to those who took the time to help us on our journey with this awesome sport that we are now a part of.
What we want to do with this series is set the record straight on some of these “tips” with the hope that we can push them out of the lore of the game. So that when the next new player comes to your facility, you can get them on the path to pickleball improvement, without the unnecessary detours we all went down.
Bad Pickleball Advice-Topic #1
Perhaps the most damaging bad advice most of us pickleball newbies received as we started our journey was “rush up to the kitchen” when you are on the serve side. This advice suggests that as soon as you or your partner hits the third shot, you both should rush headlong up to the kitchen line.
The advice is based on the generally correct premise that pickleball is won by being up at the kitchen (non-volley zone) line. While it is true that we want to play rallies from up at the non-volley zone line or NVZ, we first have to get there. And that is where this advice falls short.
Often in recreational play, particularly when we are first starting out, we do not know how to hit unattackable third shots. The most common definition of unattackable is a ball that bounces or stays below net height. It takes a greater degree of skill to attack a low shot. As we dutifully rush forward up to the non-volley zone line, our opponents are already starting their downward slam with their paddles. The result is that we get slammed or passed. Over and over again.
We are doing what we were taught by the elders. But it is not working. Rather than exploring the fallacy of the advice to rush forward, we blame the result on our third shot not having been good enough.
As a result, we spend the next few months in a hopeless repeating cycle. Third shot – rush forward – get slammed – “My fault. Bad third shot.” Rinse and repeat.
Hopefully at some point we learn (or figure out) the correct movement to the non-volley zone. Good third shot: move forward. Not so good third shot: hold your ground and defend – wait for a better shot to move forward. No more getting repeatedly smashed like at an all-you-can eat pickleball buffet.
Indiscriminately rushing to the non-volley zone line was a needless detour occasioned by the bad, if well-intentioned, advice we did not know to ignore.
What detours have you taken along your pickleball journey?
More specifically, what advice was shared with you that you later learned was not correct? Forehand in the middle? Wait until the ball bounces before you step into the non-volley zone? Something else?
We’d love to know what bad pickleball advice have you received along the way? We will dispel it in this series and, with any luck, improve the advice given to players as they come into the game. Please put it in the comments below.
P.S. Are you ready for some great pickleball advice? Click here for 7 Tips for Playing Awesome Pickleball.
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