Pickleball Tips for Intermediate Players: 18 Common Mistakes to Avoid

Use these pickleball tips for intermediate players to take your game to the next level.

As a pickleball player transitions from the novice stage to an intermediate level, the game becomes more demanding and competitive. But also more fun!

To continue to elevate your game, circumvent common pitfalls that can potentially limit your progress.

To move on from Pickleball Rookie status, tackle this list of mistakes that intermediate pickleball players often make.

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Inadequate Footwork 

A prevalent mistake made by intermediate players is poor footwork. Proficient footwork is integral to pickleball due to the swift and precise movements it demands. Concentrate on fostering good footwork routines like maintaining your feet shoulder-width apart and taking swift, small steps toward the ball.

Improper Grip 

Intermediate players often adopt incorrect grips on their paddles, which can significantly influence ball control and shot-making. To prevent this, it’s essential to find a grip that feels both comfortable and secure, and to consistently practice using it. Your grip should be relatively loose.

Distracted Focus

Intermediate players frequently grapple with maintaining concentration during games. Distractions or getting absorbed in the heat of the moment can drastically affect your performance. To prevent this, ensure you remain focused and mentally ready throughout the entire match. Techniques like deep breathing, staying hydrated, and visualizing peak performance can help maintain focus.

Pickleball Tips for Intermediate Players

Overlooking Strategy 

As you gain more experience, you might be tempted to solely rely on your physical prowess to win. However, disregarding strategy is a significant error. Constantly work on enhancing your strategic skills, like court positioning, shot selection, and partnering effectively with your teammate, to avoid this pitfall.

Disregarding the Rules 

It’s essential not to overlook the rules of pickleball. The game has specific rules regarding serving, scoring, and court boundaries. Not adhering to these rules can lead to penalties or even disqualification. Therefore, ensure you understand and consistently follow these rules.

Inadequate Warm-up 

Warming up properly before a match is crucial for preventing injuries and optimizing performance. This includes stretching, light cardio, and hitting a few balls to get a sense of the paddle and the court. Not warming up can lead to early fatigue and diminished performance.

Excessive Power in Shots 

Intermediate players often succumb to the temptation of overhitting or trying to hit the ball too hard consistently. While power is vital, control and precision are equally important. Overhitting often leads to errors, and can make it easier for opponents to return the ball. Focus on striking the ball with an appropriate power level for each situation, prioritizing consistency and accuracy.

excessive power

Sluggish Movement 

Swift and nimble movements are crucial in pickleball, and players who don’t move rapidly enough often struggle to reach the ball in time. Enhance your footwork and agility through drills and practice to avoid this pitfall. Always be prepared to move quickly and efficiently.

Lack of Communication with Your Partner 

Pickleball is a team sport, and ineffective communication with your partner can lead to missed opportunities and errors. Ensure you communicate effectively about ball placement, court coverage, and other strategies to foster better teamwork.

Not Diversifying Shot Selection 

Intermediate players often rely on the same shots repeatedly, making their moves predictable for opponents. To prevent this, diversify your shot selection to keep your opponents guessing. Incorporate a variety of shots, like dinks, drop shots, and lobs, and vary the speed and placement of your shots.

Not Predicting Your Opponent’s Shots 

Anticipation is critical in pickleball, and players who fail to predict their opponent’s shots may struggle to respond in time. To circumvent this, focus on honing your anticipation skills. This can be achieved by studying your opponent’s tactics, observing their body language, and their shot choices. By predicting their moves, you’ll be better prepared to react and execute the right play.

Overlooking Court Awareness 

Being aware of your surroundings is another crucial aspect of pickleball. Players who neglect this may struggle to make effective shots and play solid defense. Stay alert to your surroundings, including court boundaries, the positioning of other players, and the trajectory of the ball, to avoid this mistake. By staying vigilant, you’ll be better equipped to make intelligent shots and defend effectively.

Lack of Patience

Sometimes, intermediate players can become impatient, trying to end the point too quickly rather than waiting for the right opportunity to strike. It’s essential to be patient and build the point carefully, forcing your opponent into a mistake or waiting for the perfect opportunity to hit a winning shot.

Ignoring Physical Conditioning

Pickleball can be physically demanding. Players who don’t maintain their physical conditioning may find their skills don’t improve at the rate they would like. Regular exercise, including cardio and strength training, can help players maintain the physical fitness necessary for pickleball.

Inconsistency in Service

The serve in pickleball, while not as powerful as in sports like tennis, is still important. Being able to consistently serve well and place your serve can give you an advantage.

Not Adapting to Opponent’s Style

Every player has a different style and pace of play. Some intermediate players may struggle to adapt their game plan according to their opponent’s style. It’s important to learn how to read and adapt to different types of players.

Not Using the Whole Court

Some players might not effectively use the entire court. They might always aim for the same areas instead of exploiting open spaces and creating angles to stretch their opponents out.

Lack of Practice on Backhand

The backhand shot can be difficult for many players, and as a result, they may rely too much on their forehand. This can become a weakness that opponents can exploit. It’s crucial to practice both forehand and backhand shots to become a well-rounded player.

Remember, the best way to improve is to keep practicing and playing regularly, learning from each game, and making necessary adjustments to your strategy and techniques.

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