While many of the basic pickleball skills are shared with the singles and doubles game, their strategies are very different. You will have to change gears and rethink how you play.
Where in doubles you work on keeping the ball in play, have a lot of dink rallies, and hit to the middle of the court, singles demands you to be more aggressive. Players generally hit deep, hard groundstrokes with sharper angles. One of the goals is to keep your opponent on the move and in the back court.
In doubles, the serve isn’t often used as an offensive weapon. In singles, the goal is to hit hard and deep. It is generally better to hit a hard, deep serve to the middle of the court than to have a soft serve hit the corner of the service box. The server’s goal is to stay on the offensive and not to allow your opponent to take advantage of a weak serve.
Just like the serve, an aggressive return is key. Your return should be hard, deep, and with some angle. The returner’s goal is to make the opponent move and to capture the offensive position. The worst return to make would be a short, soft return in the middle. Don’t set your opponent up by allowing him to make a driving shot to your sideline. You will likely see your opponent at the net easily putting your shot away.
Coming to the Net
Choose wisely! If you haven’t hit a strong, offensive shot that has made your opponent move, don’t come to the net. Remember, you need to cover the entire court. If you choose to blindly come to the net, you will probably watch your opponent’s winning shot land in an area you can’t cover.
Where doubles is about consistency, singles is more about power and speed. Remember pickleball’s tagline – “a minute to learn … a lifetime to master”.
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Mike Hoxie, Kathy Rambousek, Gigi Guerra
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