Basic strokes are compulsory to learn as you can’t play the game without them. These strokes will give you more confidence and a better understanding of the pickleball equipment.
If you don’t know where to start learning the game, learning these basic strokes should be a starting point for you. Let’s see what these are:
A game can’t be played without this stroke! Any shot that is hit after the ball has bounced is a groundstroke. Forehand, backhand, dink, and many other shots come under the umbrella of groundstrokes.
Learning how to dink will be enough to strengthen your attacks as well as your defense system in a pickleball game.
In simple terms, a pickleball dink is a soft shot that is usually hit near the net/from the non-volley zone. This stroke is aimed near the net.
If your dink is effective enough, the shot should be hit in a downward arc and it should be aimed close to the pickleball net.
Now you must be wondering, “what’s the purpose of a dink?” Well, it is very simple; you hit this stroke to keep the rally long. This also prevents your opponent from attacking you.
By using a dink strategy, you are sort of forcing your opponent into making a mistake before you do. In preparing for an attacking hit, a player has to move their body at a certain angle and needs to be focused completely on the ball.
However, when you shoot the ball near the net, it would be difficult for the opponent to play it. This will also not give them enough time to prepare for an attack.
A cross-court dink is also a type of this basic stroke. In the section on basic shots, you can read about this type in complete detail
A volley is the exact opposite of a groundstroke. It is made before the ball hits the ground. All of the basic and advanced shots we have mentioned below are either volleys or groundstrokes.
There are many rules about these strokes in the official rule books. Some include not making this hit when you are in a non-volley zone.
Even if your shoes touch the non-volley line while making this stroke, a fault will be called. This will lead to losing a point or a serve. So you gotta be careful while hitting this stroke!
By the way, the Non-Volley Zone is also known as the kitchen so if you hear this word, don’t get confused!
Basic Pickleball Shots
Now that we have learned the basic strokes, it’s time to take a step further. Allow us to introduce you to the basic pickleball shots!
There is no way you can play a game without making a serve. Although this shot can be tricky for some beginners,learning it is a must.
In simple terms, service is the first shot of the game and the server has to play it. One team gets the chance to make two serves. However, if they make a fault, this opportunity will be snatched.
But if the other team or player makes a fault, one point will be added to the serving team on the scorecard. Pretty cool! But how to make a serve?
Stand at least one foot away from the baseline. Aim the serve towards the diagonal side of the court. DO NOT place the feet on the baseline. Even a slight touch will lead to a fault.
At this point, you must remember these two points; a serve should be made underhand and the paddle must strike the ball below the waist.
These shots are the hard ones. They can either be volleys or groundstrokes but they have to be furious, unstoppable, and fast.
To hit a drive, you have to shoot the ball hard once it’s returned by the opponent. Since the paddle needs to strongly hit the ball, it will be difficult for people who don’t have upper body strength.
But what’s the point of a hard stroke? Well, a furious shot will be difficult for your opponent to return. Also, they won’t have enough time to make an attacking shot.
Also, keep in mind that fast shots might go out of the court. Therefore you must keep it in control. But how do you keep a shot under my control?
You have to be mindful and aware of the ball before shooting it. If you hit the ball in the air, returning it with a drive will cause you to lose control.
Once the ball has bounced on the ground, it will lose some of its momentum, its ‘energy’. Thus when you hit it, it would be a controlled stroke. In short, hit the ball with a groundstroke.
6. Forehand Shot
When you hit the ball next time, notice the position of your palm. If it’s facing toward the net, you are making a forehand shot.
Yes, it’s as simple as that! But there are some points in the game when you have to intentionally make the shot. To do that, use an eastern grip or a western grip.
A forehand shot is good if you want to add a spin to the ball. The topspin effect can be generated by lightly brushing the ball on a paddle. This will trick the opponent as the ball rotates and moves in different directions.
7. Backhand Shot
This is the exact opposite of the forehand shot. When your palm is facing your chest and the back of the hand is facing the net, you will hit a pickleball backhand stroke.
Unfortunately, you can’t generate an easy topspin with this. But it gives you control over the movement of the ball. Both eastern and western grips can be used for generating this hit.
A topspin means to rotate the ball. Learning this shot will move you to the club of intermediate players. Although this shot requires a lot of mental and physical effort, it’s very rewarding.
To generate this pickleball shot, the forehand position is preferred. Then stand sideways to the paddle. Accurately make an angle of your shoulders and hips.
Keep your eyes on the ball. Once it reaches your paddle, hit it with a soft brush shot. Remember that if you hit the paddle strongly against the ball, there would be no topspin.
Now, what’s the benefit of a topspin? It drops very quickly in the opponent’s court giving no time to prepare for an attacking shot. In some cases, your opponent might not even get the chance to play a defensive shot.
9. Backhand Punch
If you like boxing but also want to play pickleball, be merry because you can combine both games. Well, you can’t completely mix both sports, instead shoot the ball like you are punching a bag.
Hold your paddle in a backhand position. When the ball comes towards you, punch it with a paddle. Punching gives this ball more power.
This hit is made so that your opponent will not get a chance to return the ball. The power stroke usually goes through the opponent’s court and wins you a point or stroke.
But remember that you can not punch the ball without proper concentration. Otherwise, the ball will go out of bounds.
10. Two-Handed Backhand
This is exactly similar to the backhand shot. The only difference is that you have to use both hands for hitting the stroke.
A two-handed backhand will be best if you shoot it as a volley or baseline groundstroke. Most strokes of pickleball only give you a strong shot or control over the ball. There is no in-between!
But the best thing about a two-handed shot is that it gives the player control over the ball while being able to hit a strong stroke.
11. Block Shot
So far, we have been talking about hitting an attacking shot. But what if your opponent hits a strong shot toward you? In this situation, you must get into a defensive position.
A backhand position should be your go-to position when your opponent attacks you. The method of a black shot is very self-explanatory.
You just have to hold the paddle in a backhand position and let the ball go against it. Do not swing the paddle as the ball is already very powerful.
Also do not attempt to make an attacking shot. At this point, the ball is already holding a lot of power. So if you strike the ball with great force, you might lose control over it.
12. Drop Shot or Third Drop Shot
A drop shot is aimed toward the non-volley area of the opponent. There are different ways of doing this. Some examples are the topspin drop shot, flat shot, and slice drop shot.
This shot should be present in your list of pickleball shots you must learn as soon as you can. Although a third drop shot can be hit from any area of the court, it executes a better result if you hit from the baseline.
The importance of the drop shot can be understood by a scenario. The ball is about to hit the baseline area of your court. Now you hit the ball and send it near the net or in the NVZ of the opponent.
Your opponent can’t hit a volley in the NVZ, but shooting an effective groundstroke near the net is also difficult. Resultantly, they might either miss the ball or hit it with a weak stroke.
13. Overhead Smash
So far, you must be wondering why the backhand punch is the strongest pickleball shot. No doubt, a punching paddle can generate a hard stroke.
However, it is an overhead smash that is considered to be the most powerful shot in pickleball. It is a volley shot as it’s hit when the ball is above the position of your head and has not made any contact with the ground.
Before doing this, you should have a firm intention of winning a point. Turning your wrist the right angle will result in a shot that will be difficult for your opponent to return.
No doubt, the muscles of your back and chest will be sore for the next day. In this case, remind yourself of the phrase, “no pain, no gain”.
Lob is the pickleball shot that is intended to cross the opponent’s head. Although this shot is very useful, we wouldn’t recommend learning it as a beginner.
But if you are on an intermediate level and have learned many other shots, you can try. You should make this hit when the game is very fast-paced and the player is near the kitchen.
Let’s take an example through a scenario. Your opponent is hitting hard strokes over and over and doesn’t plan on stopping. Anyone will start losing focus and breath in this case.
At this point, you might want to slow down the game. When the opponent is near the kitchen, you hit the ball with a strong but controlled stroke. Resultantly, the ball moves past their head.
Your opponent starts panicking and either miss the shot or returns the ball with a weak stroke. But if the other player is a pro at pickleball shots, then you must be prepared for a strong retaliating shot.
15. Cross Court Dink
This is a simple dink stroke that is hit toward the diagonal side of your opponent. Oh, and did we mention that it is a difficult shot to learn?
As a beginner, practice the basic dink. Once you get a hold of it, start practicing the cross-court version. Stand 1-2 inches behind the non-volley line and with a soft shot, shift the direction of the ball.
Positioning of the paddles, shoulders, hips, and wrist is very important here. The ball must be precisely hit. Otherwise, it would go out of bounds or behind the non-volley line.
Pickleball Advance Shots
It’s time to get the title of an advanced player. Let’s learn some of the tricky-and-risky but effective advanced pickleball shots.
16. Backspin Return Serve
This shot is also tricky but will leave your opponents in awe! When the server is returning, let it come towards you. You have to show that you are about to hit a soft shot.
Make a backspin or a slice in the blink of an eye. The ball will fall into the opponent’s kitchen giving them zero to no chance of hitting the ball.
17. Centerline Ace
It can be learned once you have mastered the topspin stroke. In the section on basic strokes, we mentioned that you must not hit the ball hard to generate a topspin as the ball might lose control.
Since the advanced shots are all about taking the risks. Precisely make a topspin with a hard stroke while standing on the centreline.
The topspin already has a lot of power, when it’s combined with a hard stroke, you will win a serve or a point.
Hit this shot in the centerline and ace the game!
18. Around the Post Shot
This is an extremely powerful and advanced pickleball shot. Unfortunately, you won’t get a lot of opportunities to pull it off. You can only make this shot if the opponent has made a cross-court dink.
Since the cross-court dink is already a powerful shot, you must hit it slightly. Resultantly, the ball will bounce and fall out of the opponent’s court.
19. The Dink Fake
Yup, your train of thought is correct! You have to fake a dink shot in this case. There is a 90% chance of winning a point if you can fake a dink shot. So pray that your opponent doesn’t attack you with it.
The advanced players will be able to identify the dink shot so you can’t use that. Instead, take this problem as a blessing and use it to win the point.
The dink fake is done when it looks like you’re making a dink. But in reality, you are driving the ball. There must be a topspin and the ball must be high.
There you have it! We hope this ultimate list of pickleball shots helped you. We advise you to begin with the basic strokes and practice them until you master them.
Then pick 2-4 pickleball basic shots to learn. Once you have learned these shots as well, pick more of these and continue the cycle.
The key to learning all of the shots is consistency. So keep on practicing and keep on learning!