Singles Pickleball Strategy – Top 10 Strategies to Win Consistently

Every sport has certain strategies that would help you win more often than not; depending on how well you execute them. This includes singles pickleball.

Any regular pickleball player knows there is a significant difference between how a game of pickleball singles is played and how a game of pickleball doubles is played. 

Although some strategies cut across both singles and doubles, there is a need to differentiate strategies for a singles game from strategies for a doubles game. 

What is Singles Pickleball?

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In pickleball and most other paddle sports, you can play either a singles game or a doubles game. A singles game is 1 v 1, while a doubles game is 2 v 2. 

Singles pickleball requires a considerable amount of physical effort as you will need to cover your entire half of the pickleball court by yourself; this is why a lot of casual pickleball players prefer playing doubles.

The good thing about singles pickleball is the fact that winning or losing depends entirely on you. 

Unlike a doubles game, where you have to consider what your teammate is doing and how they are playing, in a singles game, you just need to focus on being better than your opponent. 

Some people don’t do well in teams and work better alone; singles pickleball is perfect for you if you fall into this category.

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Pickleball Strategy: Singles vs Doubles Pickleball

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Aside from the obvious difference in the number of players, singles pickleball and doubles pickleball differ by the strategies used to gain an edge in these two types of pickleball. 

Since there are more players in doubles pickleball, communication comes into play. Being able to communicate with your teammate more efficiently than the opponents will give you an edge in doubles pickleball. This particular strategy is irrelevant in a singles game because it’s just you against your opponent; no need to communicate. 

Even the strategy for the placement of shots differs significantly from a singles game to a doubles game.

In a singles game, it is advisable to try and put the ball in the corners when playing a singles game while in a doubles game, you might get some reward if you try and get the ball down the middle as much as possible; this would cause uncertainty between the two players and will give you an edge.

We will only be focusing on singles pickleball strategies in this article.

Related: 24 pickleball drills to up your game in 2023.

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Singles Pickleball Strategy

hitting a pickleball at the camera
  1. Serve Deep

A big, deep serve is an important weapon to have when playing singles pickleball. A deep serve is also handy when playing doubles but it is more crucial and decisive in a singles game. A short serve allows your opponent to return easily and put the ball in the corner, giving them an advantage. 

A big, deep serve gives you an advantage over your opponent because you get a short return and are in charge of the point; you should try and finish things off early with a powerful drive.

  1. Stay Near The Middle Line During Serve

A key difference between a singles game and a doubles game is how much of the court each individual needs to cover. Since you have to cover an entire half of the court by yourself in a singles game, your position when serving is extremely important. 

You should stay near the middle line when serving so that you have less ground to cover when your opponent returns. If you are staying near the sideline, it will be very difficult to reach a return that is played to the other side. Staying in the middle keeps everything within reach.

  1. Deep Return of Serve

When returning your opponent’s serve, it is important to try and put it in one of the corners, so that you can put your opponent in a difficult position. Returning like this will allow you to take control and keep your opponent from taking a strong position at the net. If you can, try to hit the angles and keep your opponent constantly on the move.

  1. Move Into the Non-Volley Zone Line After Your Return of Serve

When playing singles pickleball, it is vital to cut off your opponent’s angles on the pickleball court. To do this, you must work your way into the Non-Volley Zone line. 

You have to follow the flight of the pickleball, so you can properly cut off those angles. With a good, deep return, you will have the advantage at the line when you follow your return to the non-volley line.

  1. Drive The Ball Down The Line

When your opponent has pulled you to the sideline, it is important to play the ball down the line so as to give your opponent less time to react. 

If you play it across, the ball travels a longer distance and your opponent has more time to decide what to do. The less time your opponent has to react when you play a shot, the better for you.

  1. Study and Exploit Your Opponent’s Weaker Side

Almost every pickleball player has a weaker side, even very good players have a side they prefer to receive the ball with. 

For a large number of pickleball players, especially beginners, their weaker side is their backhand. This is not the case with everyone so it’s important to study each opponent and find out what their weaker side is, then use it to your advantage. 

Frequently making your opponents receive the ball with their weaker side will give you an edge.

  1. Wrong-Footing Your Opponent By Hitting The Ball Behind Them

With your opponent running from side to side and struggling to cover the entire court, hitting the ball behind them will wrong-foot them and put you in a very good position. 

When you hit the ball behind your opponent, it is unlikely that they will retrieve the ball quickly or efficiently enough.

  1. Remember the Soft Game

A lot of times, pickleball players get obsessed with playing the ball as hard as possible to the other side. It is important not to forget about the soft game and add some variety to your game. 

Although it’s not the easiest thing in the world to do as a beginner, adding properly angled dinks and drops to your skillset will definitely take your singles game to another level.

  1. Play Percentage Pickleball 

When playing singles pickleball, you need to anticipate and play the percentages. High-percentage pickleball is all about hitting shots that give you the highest chance of success and the lowest chance of making an unforced error. 

The net is lower at the center and higher at the post, so it is important to use this knowledge to your advantage and play high-percentage pickleball. 

You also need to assume that your opponent knows this as well and attempt to predict where their high-percentage shots will go.

  1. Be Aware of the Angles on the Court

Although speed and power matter, one has to be calculated as well. When you are returning the serve, you don’t always have to run forward and make your presence felt at the non-volley line. You should be aware of the angles at all times so as to determine the best shot to take in any given situation.

Check out this video with in-game examples from the pros on singles pickleball strategy

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Final Point

There are so many singles pickleball strategies out there and in this article, we have been able to cover ten of them. 

If you do some more extensive research, you will definitely come across a few other effective strategies that if executed properly, will also take your game to another level. 

You should try your best to execute as many of these strategies as possible at first when playing singles pickleball. Then, refine the ones that get you the most success and watch your game reach new heights. 

Thanks for reading. For more on pickleball strategy, check out this post on doubles pickleball strategy.  

Last update on 2024-07-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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