11 of the Most Common Mistakes PCI Coaches See New Pickleball Players Make

I recently reached out to a number of Pickleball Coaching International members to find out an answer to the question:

What is the most common mistake you see new players make?

I collected some great responses to the question and have included 11 of the most common mistakes they see below. Check them out and try not to make the same mistakes in your game!

1) The biggest mistake new players make is being inconsistent. In their mind they think they can play more aggressively, however the very basic shots lack consistency and it stops the play.

Paul and Patricia of Burlington Pickleball

2) Making sure they hit the center of the paddle (eye-to-hand coordination)

3) Late in taking paddle back to hit the shot (core skill of setting up and readiness)

4) Standing still and not moving to the ball (pickleball is a game of movement)

There are others, but taking care of these three will enable new players to keep the ball in play and have longer rallies.


Mark Livingston

There are two errors I have seen with my players that unfortunately seems to be an “infection” here at the club where I coach.

5) No player has a strategy to win the point. They ALL react and expect to win points via subconsciously hitting the ball straight to their opponent. Where they should be: implementing strategies, reading their opponent’s body/paddle language, exposing their weaknesses, anticipating the most probable shots from their opponents, changing speed/spin/height/angles to keep their opponents off balanced mentally, etc…

6) No player uses their BACKHAND, especially when it comes to volleys. They ALL hit an inverted forehand for their backhand. They do it to where they create weak points in their net game and exposing themselves of poor court positioning. Also, since all have poor reaction time with their volleys, their opponents have no need to dink and just blast they ball through the court. So where dinking is crucial in professional pickleball…it’s non-existent for beginner/intermediate players.

Witchita Falls Country Club

Walker Prothro

7) Simply put: They do not see the ball coming off the opponents paddle; hence, reaching for the ball and unable to control it.

Gail Aiken

8) The most common mistakes I see with new players is not keeping their eye on the ball. When learning one of their first skills—serving— I often tell students, “Watch the ball. Don’t look at the court across the net: it’s not going anywhere. Watch the ball, and watch your paddle hit the ball.” If they develop that habit at the start of the point, it’s easier to keep focus on the ball throughout the point.

Mary Clor, Rarity Bay Pickleball Club

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9) I think the most common mistake that I see new players make is not letting out balls go. It’s also probably the most common mistake made by intermediate and even 4.0 players, in my humble opinion.


Greg Spicer

10) Many new players over utilize spin shots before learning and being consistent with the basics.

Stacie Barron

11) One of the biggest things beginner do is think that they can drive their way to success. Yes, as a beginner playing beginners driving a ball might lead to some success. Mostly because new players don’t let out balls go out. But the advanced players sees the swing and can quickly determine that balls hit hard usually go out. 

Ernie Ortiz

Thank you to everyone who contributed. Be sure to check them all out!

Thank you to everyone who contributed. Be sure to check them all out!

This is part of a 3 part series of articles, check out the other two:

And while you’re at it, why not continue to learn by reading another of my articles:

And if you have any additional mistakes you’d like to see on the list, please email me at ryan@pickleballdrive.com.

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