Are you looking to improve your pickleball game? Do you want to take your skills to the next level? Well, look no further! In this post, we will be discussing the ten essential pickleball shots that will help make you a better player.

From the serve to the cross-court dink, we've got you covered. Whether you're a seasoned player or a beginner, these shots will undoubtedly take your pickleball game to new heights.

1. Serve

The serve is the most critical shot in pickleball since it starts every point. A good serve can help give you a significant advantage over your opponent. Focus on hitting a consistent and accurate serve. Try mixing up your speed and placement to keep your opponent guessing.

The serve is not only crucial in starting the point, but it also sets up the following shots. Without a good serve, it will be challenging to execute the various pickleball shots effectively. It's essential to learn different types of serves, including the drive serve, lob serve, and drop serve.

These pickleball shots require different techniques, but they are all very important shots that could give you an edge over your opponent. Additionally, a well-placed serve can force your opponent to hit the ball weakly, giving you an easy opportunity to move the ball deep into their court.

2. Return of Serve

Once your opponent serves the ball, it's up to you to return it. Your goal should be to keep the ball low and force your opponent to hit an uncomfortable shot. Try to avoid hitting the ball directly to your opponent's paddle since this will give them an opportunity to hit a winner.

It's essential to consider where you place the ball. Hitting the ball directly at your opponent's feet can make it difficult for them to hit the ball back effectively. This shot can force your opponent to hit a weak return, giving you the chance to take control of the point.

The return of serve is a very important shot in pickleball, as it sets the tone for the rest of the point. If you can consistently hit a solid return, you'll be putting pressure on your opponent from the outset. It's also vital to remember that the return of serve isn't just about hitting the ball over the net - it's about placing the ball in your opponent's court with intention and strategy.

By focusing on hitting a low, accurate return that lands deep in your opponent's court, you'll be able to take control of the point from the get-go. This is a great opportunity to follow up with a strong groundstroke or a well-placed drop shot, putting your opponent on the defensive and giving yourself the upper hand.

So, don't underestimate the power of a well-executed return of serve - it could be the key to taking your pickleball game to the next level.

3. Volley

A volley is when you hit the ball before it bounces. Having a good volley can allow you to control the pace of the game and put pressure on your opponent. Make sure to approach the net with your paddle up and be prepared for a quick reaction.

The volley is an important shot in pickleball because it can be one of the most flashy shots in the game. A well-executed volley requires excellent hand-eye coordination, reflexes, and quick decision-making.

When your opponent hits the ball high, a volley can be a great way to immediately take control of the point. By quickly approaching the net, you can put pressure on your opponent and force them to hit defensive shots. This can ultimately lead to a weak return or even an error on their part.

Mastering the volley is key to becoming a more versatile player. By perfecting this shot, you can give yourself an additional weapon in your arsenal and catch your opponent off-guard.

4. Drive

The drive shot in pickleball is a crucial shot that can give you a significant advantage over your opponent. When executed correctly, a shot drive can force your opponent to scramble to the back of the court, giving you time to take control of the point.

However, it's important to note that hitting the ball too hard can result in an out-of-bounds shot, giving the point to your opponent. Therefore, it's essential to practice your drive shot to get a feel for the appropriate amount of force required for a successful drive.

It's also important to consider the placement of your drive shot. Hitting the ball down the middle of the court can be effective in disrupting your opponent's rhythm and forcing them to make a quick decision. Alternatively, hitting the ball to the sideline can put your opponent in a difficult position and give you an opportunity to hit a winner.

5. Lob

A lob is a high shot that is meant to go over your opponent's head. Lobbing is a great way to get your opponent to move backward and can buy you time to get to the net. Ensure that you hit the ball deep enough and aim toward the corner of the court for maximum effectiveness.

The lob shot is not only useful for getting your opponent to move backward, but it can also be a focused shot that forces them to make a difficult overhead return. It's important to note that lobbing should be used strategically, as it can give your opponent time to recover and possibly hit a stronger shot.

To execute a successful lob shot, aim for a spot near the baseline and focus on getting enough height on the ball to clear your opponent's reach. By using this shot sparingly and with intention, you can keep your opponent off-balance and maintain control of the point.

It's also worth mentioning that the lob is particularly useful when playing against opponents who like to rush the net. By lobbing the ball over their heads and forcing them to retreat, you can create more time and space for yourself on the court.

6. Dink

The dink shot is a delicate shot that is hit softly over the net. Use the dink shot when you're at the net and want to keep the ball low. This shot is great for setting up your next shot or forcing your opponent to make an error.

The dink shot is not only a great way to keep the ball low, but it can also be used to deceive your opponent and force them out of position. Keep in mind that there are various types of dink shots, including the cross-court dink shot. The cross-court dink is a useful shot to have in your arsenal because it can open up new angles and put your opponent on the defensive.

With practice, you can master the art of the dink shot and use it to outmaneuver your opponents and gain control of the point.

7. Third Shot Drop

The third shot drop aims to keep the ball low over the net while also forcing your opponent to hit up. This shot is hit from the baseline and is used as a transition shot to move you up to the net.

The third shot drop is a crucial shot in the game of pickleball, as it enables players to transition from the baseline to the net while keeping the ball low and forcing their opponent to hit up. By utilizing third-shot drops effectively, players can take control of the point and force their opponent into a defensive position.

One important factor to consider when executing a third shot drop is the amount of spin you put on the ball. Adding topspin can help keep the ball low and increase the chances of a successful shot. Additionally, it's essential to aim for the sidelines, as this will make it harder for your opponent to return the ball.

Another technique that can be used with third-shot drops is incorporating third-shot drives. This involves hitting the ball harder with the intention of catching your opponent off guard and forcing them into a defensive position.

By alternating between third-shot drops and third-shot drives, players can maintain control of the game and keep their opponents guessing.

8. Block Shot

A block shot is a defensive shot where you try to block your opponent's shot by redirecting it. Use this shot when you're out of position and want to get back into the rally. Make sure to angle your paddle to redirect the ball to a safe spot on the court.

The block shot is not a shot that is typically used to win points, but it can be a fun shot to try out and can throw off your opponent's rhythm. This shot is particularly useful when your opponent hits a powerful shot that you cannot return with a regular stroke.

Additionally, the block shot can also be used as a drop shot when executed properly. By angling your paddle correctly and hitting the ball softly, you can surprise your opponent and force them to make a difficult return. However, it's important to note that this shot requires a lot of finesse and practice to perfect.

Overall, while the block shot may not be the most glamorous shot in pickleball, it can be a useful tool to have in your arsenal. With its defensive nature and drop-shot potential, it's a shot that players of all levels can utilize to keep their opponents on their toes.

9. Overhead Smash

The overhead smash is a powerful shot that can help you win points outright. Use this shot when your opponent hits a weak shot or a lob. Make sure to approach the ball with your paddle up and hit the ball with a downward motion.

The overhead smash is one of the most thrilling shots in pickleball. It involves launching yourself into the air and bringing your paddle down with force to send the ball flying past your opponent. It's such a fun shot to try out, and it's even more satisfying when you connect with the ball just right.

To set up an overhead smash, look for opportunities where your opponent hits soft shots or lobs that you can easily get under. As you approach the ball, get into position with your paddle up and ready to strike. Once you're in position, jump into the air and swing your paddle down with maximum force to bring the hammer down on the ball.

While the overhead smash can be a thrilling shot, it's important to note that it also carries some risks. If you mistime your jump or swing, you can miss the ball entirely, leaving yourself exposed to a counterattack from your opponent. Additionally, if you're not careful, you can hit the ball out of bounds or into the net, costing you the point.

10. Cross-Court Dink

The cross-court dink is a challenging but effective shot that is hit diagonally over the net. This shot is meant to go deep into your opponent's court and away from them.

To execute a successful cross-court dink, aim for the opposite corner of the court and be sure to hit the ball softly over the net. This shot can be particularly effective when your opponent is expecting a shot to the middle of the court.

The cross-court dink can be enhanced with a backhand spin dink which adds extra spin to the shot and makes it even more challenging for your opponent to return. This shot requires precision and practice, but it can be a powerful tool in your pickleball arsenal.

When executing a cross-court dink with backhand spin, aim for the sideline of the court to make it even more difficult for your opponent to reach the ball. The extra spin will cause the ball to bounce unpredictably, making it tough for your opponent to predict where the ball will end up.


There you have it, ten pickleball shots that will make you a better player. Try incorporating these shots into your game, and you'll see a significant improvement in no time. Remember, practice makes perfect, so keep practicing these shots until you master them.

With determination and hard work, you'll become a pickleball champion in no time! Don't forget to have fun along the way – after all, that's one of the best parts about playing this sport!

If you're looking for the best pickleball equipment, check out our top picks! We've done all the research for you, so you don't have to!

Be sure to check out our other pickleball and sports & fitness blog posts!

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