14 Tips: How Beginners Can Improve Their Pickleball Game – From Pro Pickleball Coaches

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

What is your best tip for how beginners can progress to the intermediate level?

I collected some great responses to the question and have included 14 of the most common mistakes they see below. Check them out and try not to make the same mistakes in your game!

1) I got this advice when I first started playing and it really stuck with me. It was a very simple suggestion. Slow yourself down and the game will slow down. Too often players at the lower level (even higher level are guilty) attack EVERY. SINGLE. BALL. Huge wild swings just aren’t sustainable in pickleball. As much as we may want them to be. Learning that the game is less about winners and more about building points with placement and patience goes a long…LONG way when progressing to higher level playing..

Ryan Hocker

2) ALWAYS hit with a purpose!

John Polhamus

3) I’ll repeat something I heard a number of years ago, when I picked up the game. “Pickleball is a game that most can learn in 1/2 hour, but that takes a lifetime to master.” My response for a tip to progress to the Intermediate level is simple…”Be patient. With yourself, with your skill development, and with the inevitable implementation dip – that time after you’ve learned a new skill and then realize that fitting it into your game takes longer and isn’t as easy as practicing the skill was when you learned it

Tom Beer

Looking to improve your game?
Check out this excellent pickleball video training course from High Performance Pickleball Academy. (Affiliate link) They break down the game into 8 key skills and instruct you on how to master them.

4) “Pay it Forward.” Think back to when you were first learning how to play Pickleball. Who welcomed you at the courts? Who offered to lend you their paddle? Who showed you scoring and rotation? Who made you feel comfortable trying something new? Are you friends with this person/these people today? In order to help the Pickleball Community grow, “Pay it Forward.” We all started learning somewhere so it is your turn to pass the torch.


Sarah Saari

5) Make sure to play singles matches as well as doubles matches. It teaches you not to be over dependent on your partner (playing without a safety net). Your movement and court coverage will improve. It will force you to learn to hit away from your opponent. Aggressive returns of serve will force mistakes on 3rd shots for easy put-aways. Singles can be daunting when initially getting to grips with the game but many skills learnt early on in solo match ups are vital to progress your overall game to the next level.

Vian Schoeman

6) There are so many variables with beginner players, it’s extremely difficult to answer. What is the person’s background with sports? What skills do they already have? What skills do they lack? Do they understand basic strategies of pickleball? What is their general level of athleticism? For that reason, the best advice I could give is for the beginner player to find a local coach who can customize their lessons according to the player’s needs, then listen to the coach’s strategic advice and practice the skills that coach recommended. A coach can help to correct mechanics or strategic problems. They can tell a player both what they are doing well and also places they need to improve.


David Stefan

7) Always contact the ball out in front, between the net and your body no matter where you are on the court and what shot you are trying to execute

Laurel Heilman

8) Play out of their comfort zone. Don’t run around your back hand, take that ball out of the air, try something new. Playing to meet your comfort will keep you from progressing to the next level.


Chase Mason

9) Be willing to move your feet”. You can have a technically sound swing; but if you refuse to move effectively to the ball you can’t use it.

Gene Henley

10) Perfect mechanics now to avoid relearning later.

Bill Kuerz

11) First, develop consistency through drilling on the fundamentals: serve, return, forehand, backhand, overhead/putaways, volleys. Also I think a strong focus on the “Stop, set, swing” principle is crucial. In other words, stopping as the ball arrives, setting up for the shot and then swinging. Last, watching videos online will only get a player so far. A coach who can help a player put it all together can be enormously motivating. My game didn’t improve consistently until I found a coach.

Andrew Buskey

12) Get good at the simple stuff – keep the ball IN! You can’t have fun if you don’t keep the ball in… Pickleball, by its very nature, is a mistake driven game. If you don’t make mistakes, your chances of winning are good. If you can’t keep it in, you can’t win! My other big one is to become a student of the game. Pickleball has such a large volume of information to read or watch online – you can get better by watching better players or learning from better players.

Debbie Brown

13) Focus on the key essential skills of the game, and try to master those first. Remember that everyone is on their own path, and just focus on putting in the work that you need to improve!


Jordan Briones

14) Play games less, practice (drill) more. Games tend to reinforce what we do well, or are most comfortable doing. Drilling is where we can improve on what holds us back from progressing. 


Richard Love

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 tips you’d like to see on the list, please email me at ryan@pickleballdrive.com.

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