7 New Year’s Resolutions to Help You Improve Your Pickleball Game

Sure, you could resolve to floss your teeth every night or spend less money. But this year, consider allowing yourself to make a resolution that’s fun to keep. Make this the year you improve your pickleball game. Here are seven specific pickleball-related resolutions that will have you beating your opponents to eleven far more often:

1. Less Driving, More Dropping

On third shots and beyond, pickleball players should prioritize drop shots. New players tend to want to smash the ball through the court. This temptation is especially true for those with tennis experience. While powerful driving shots have their place in the game, work to train yourself to hit drop shots more than drives. A precise third shot that drops into the opponent’s court is harder to return and crucial to your pickleball game. In the New Year, focus your game on targeted drop shots rather than smashing the ball across the court.

2. Focus on One Skill at a Time

Maybe your volleys need more power, your stamina wanes toward the end of a match, or your hand-eye coordination needs work. Changing any of those things will improve your game. But if you try to work on all those skills, chances are none will get particularly good. Unless you have hours and hours every week to dedicate to your pickleball New Year’s resolutions. Diluting your efforts across multiple goals will hinder your progress.

Pick one change to focus on. Stay with that until you see meaningful progress, then shift your attention to the next goal. Working on one skill upgrade at a time allows you to get enough reps to build muscle memory and advance that part of your game. It also means you’ll see faster progress, which can be just the reward you need to stick to the resolution.

If you absolutely can not resist the urge to split your focus, don’t mix skills into one session. Each time you play or drill, have one specific skill in mind and focus on that.

3. Practice, Practice, Practice

The best way to get better is to play. That can mean setting a resolution to set up or participate in more games. Maybe you’ll vow to hit the pickleball court at least once a month or set up a standing weekly appointment with fellow pickleball enthusiasts.

But “practice” also means drilling. That could be exercises to improve your hand-eye coordination or hitting the court and working on serve placement. You might even work with a pickleball ball machine to refine certain shots. If you don’t have access to a machine, partner up with a fellow player and take turns hitting balls to your partner that target their area of focus. If they want to strengthen their backhand, aim your shots there. If your volley drop shots are weak, park yourself in the kitchen and have them hit ball after ball to you.

Drills will improve your game more quickly than pickleball games because they focus your time and attention on specific areas of your game that need improvement.

4. Put on Your Patience Pants

Do you know what goes well with patience pants? Pickleball shoes.

To bring your pickleball game to the next level, commit to working on your patience. Keeping the ball in play until you receive a shot that allows you to do something special is its own skill. Too many players think they must try to make every return a winner. Shift your mindset. Keep your shots low and wait until your opponent gives you an opportunity.

This need for patience is especially important when at the kitchen (aka the non-volley zone) line. Don’t try to make something out of mediocre opportunities during a long dink rally. As long as your returns don’t provide openings for your opponents, you can wait. Once they make a mistake, you can capitalize on that for a winning shot. Until then, be patient.

5. Invest in Your Equipment

Most beginner picklers start with a hand-me-down paddle from a friend or the cheapest paddle they can find. We understand that. You need to know that pickleball is a good fit for you before you are willing to invest much money in it. However, your paddle makes a huge difference in the quality of your play. If you’ve reached the point where your New Year’s Resolutions revolve around pickleball, it’s safe to say you are a true pickleball player. Time to invest in equipment that helps you advance your game.

If you’ve also resolved to spend less money this year, buy the best budget pickleball paddle you can find. If you are ready to spend more, compare pickleball paddles, try out friends’ paddles, and find the one that best suits your game.

6. Watch More Pickleball

Sure, you learn by doing. Playing and drilling are essential to improving your pickleball game. But you also learn by watching people who have mastered skills you are still working to refine. You will gain valuable insights from watching the pros go at it on the pickleball court.

Seek out tournaments in your local area. Find sports channels that carry pickleball games. Some pickleball tournaments offer live streaming. All of this can teach you about the game and be a fun way to spend an hour or two.

Watching YouTube channels or pickleball instructional videos can teach you much about the game. Observe how the pros select shots, coordinate with their partners, and move around the court.

7. Become Part of the Community

Pickleball is an incredible sport, but for many, it is the pickleball community that makes this activity even more special. You miss out if you show up with your partner and planned opponents, play a game, and leave the court. The camaraderie, support, and fun make the pickleball community a vibrant, valued part of many picklers’ lives.

Chat with other players as you warm up. Congratulate the players on the next court over on a great shot or a victory. If you want to make even more connections, join some low-pressure tournaments or organize a pickleball outing with friends, colleagues, or neighbors.

As you begin a new year, pickleball can become an even more vital, vibrant part of your fitness, self-care, and social life. All these resolutions can help you improve your game. But above all, resolve to have a great time and play more pickleball.

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