Pickleball, the fast-paced racquet sport, is becoming increasingly popular in recent years with people of all ages flocking to the courts to engage in the game. Pickleball is not only fun, but it also provides an excellent workout while improving your hand-eye coordination, reflexes, and agility.

If you're looking to up your game and develop your pickleball singles strategy, you've come to the right place. This blog post will provide you with ten tips for smarter play to help you not only win but also enjoy the game more.

1. Keep serves deep

Keeping serves deep is one of the most critical aspects of pickleball singles strategy. It is vital to keep your serves deep as it allows you to take control of the pickleball court, making it harder for your opponent to return the ball.

Serving deep also gives you ample time to get into position and defend against any shots that may come your way. When you serve deep, you force your opponent to move toward the back of the pickleball court, giving you an opportunity to creep into the no-volley zone.

It is essential to note that short serves are easier to attack, and your opponent can quickly move into position to hit a winner. To maximize your chances of winning, focus on serving deep with a variation of speed and spin.

When you maintain a deep serve, you will have a better chance to win points and keep your opponent under pressure throughout the match.

2. Hit a Deep Return of Serve

When playing a singles pickleball game, hitting a deep return of serve can be a game-changer. It keeps your opponent at the back of the pickleball court, giving you more control of the game.

It's crucial to remember that hitting a deep return of serve requires you to hit the ball with more power and accuracy, making contact with the ball at the waist or lower chest height.

This strategy will allow you to take advantage of any weak shots they may make and give you more time to get into the best position. You should also aim to return it low and with spin to limit your opponent's options.

By doing so, you'll force your opponent to hit the ball on the run, limiting their options and increasing your chances of winning the pickleball game. So don't be afraid to put some extra effort into your return of serve, and watch as your opponent struggles to keep up with your gameplay.

However, it's crucial to keep in mind that playing doubles requires a different strategy when it comes to returning the serve.

When playing doubles, hitting the return wide and deep can be more effective as it forces the server to move away from the center of the court, opening up the court for your partner to attack.

3. Keep yourself near the back third of the court

In a singles pickleball game, it's important to maintain a strategic position on the court to ensure you're prepared to return any shot your opponent sends your way.

You may be tempted to move closer to the net to get better shots, but you should keep yourself at the back of the court where you can defend against any shots that may come your way.

This strategy will help you to stay in rallies since you'll be in a better position to return almost any ball your opponent may hit your way. Staying near the back third of the pickleball court allows you to cover more ground and defend against any unexpected shots.

Moreover, this positioning gives you more time to react to your opponent's shots and make calculated returns, rather than rushing to return a ball from a more forward position. As a result, staying toward the back third of the court can help you maintain better control over the pace of the game, keeping you in a better position to win points.

Remember, in singles pickleball, your positioning can make or break your gameplay, so make sure to keep this key pickleball strategy in mind during every match.

4. Move left or right according to your opponent's actions

As you play against your opponent, always look for the areas they tend to hit consistently. If you notice that they hit to the right more than to the left, shift yourself to the right to cover that area more effectively.

You should always move according to your opponent's actions, as it will increase your chances of returning their shots more efficiently.

If you notice that they're becoming more aggressive on their serves or shots, shift your positioning to counter their movements. By carefully analyzing your opponent's gameplay and shifting your position accordingly, you can increase your chances of making successful returns and ultimately winning the game.

Also, don't get trapped in one spot on the court. Be ready to move left or right as needed, but still stay close to the center line, and use your footwork to keep yourself in the best position to react to your opponent's shots. In singles pickleball, quick reactions and effective positioning are the keys to successful gameplay.

5. Come into the Kitchen Line from time to time

Playing singles in pickleball can be quite challenging, and it requires a high level of focus and skill. Although it's essential to stay back on the pickleball court, it's equally vital to move into the kitchen line from time to time. Moving into the kitchen line from time to time can give you an advantage in the game.

It's essential to note that the non-volley line or the kitchen line is where most of the action in the pickleball singles game takes place. By moving closer to this line, you give yourself a better chance to take control of the game, force your opponent to make mistakes or limit their options, and gain a strategic advantage.

This move will help you take control of the game, limit your opponent's options, and give you a chance to hit effective volleys. However, you should not stay in that position for too long as it limits your ability to move around the pickleball court.

So, it's best to use this strategy sparingly and strategically. Overall, being able to move in and out of the kitchen line skillfully can significantly impact your gameplay and increase your chances of winning in pickleball singles.

6. Limit Your Unforced Errors

In pickleball, unforced errors are shots that you fail to make cleanly or hit the ball out of bounds when there's no pressure from your opponent. In both doubles and singles pickleball games, limiting unforced errors is crucial to winning.

You should aim to limit these errors by maintaining your focus, hitting the ball cleanly, and not making rash decisions when it comes to shotmaking. These errors can often lead to lost points and give your opponent an advantage.

By focusing on hitting each shot cleanly and avoiding rash decisions, you'll be able to minimize your mistakes and increase your chances of success.

However, it's important to note that some shots, such as the drop shot, can be particularly challenging to execute and may result in unforced errors. It's important to use these shots sparingly and strategically, as they can be effective when executed correctly.

By staying focused and varying your shot selection, you'll be able to play smarter and improve your chances of winning in both singles and doubles pickleball games.

7. Vary The Speed and Spin

One of the keys to success in pickleball is to keep your opponent guessing. As such, you should vary the speed and spin of your shots to make it harder for your opponent to read them. You can add more top spin, under spin, or slice to your shots to bring more variety to your gameplay.

In both singles and doubles pickleball games, varying the speed and spin of your shots is crucial to keep your opponents guessing and off-balance. Adding more top spin or under spin to your shots can cause the ball to have varying height and speed, making it difficult for your opponent to return the ball effectively.

In the case of a hard passing shot, adding a slice to the ball can cause it to curve in unpredictable ways, making it even harder for your opponent to return. By employing different types of spin and velocity, you can create a multi-dimensional shot selection that can be used strategically to gain the upper hand in your pickleball games.

8. Master The Lob Shot

To win points in pickleball, you need to be unpredictable with your shots, and the lob shot will help you achieve that. Lobbing is a shot that sends the ball high into the air, and it's best played when your opponent is at the net expecting a low shot. The lob shot can be used as a defensive play, but it can also surprise your opponent and gain you points.

However, mastering this shot requires practice and knowledge of pickleball strategy. To execute a successful lob shot, players must anticipate the opponent's position and movement on the court.

A well-placed lob can force your opponent to retreat, giving you the opportunity to move up to the net or take control of the point. Additionally, the lob shot can be used to break an opponent's rhythm and throw them off their game.

In the pickleball singles game, mastering the lob shot can give you a significant advantage, but it's important to use it sparingly and strategically. Overusing this shot can make it predictable, and your opponent may start to anticipate and adjust to it. As with any shot in pickleball, understanding the balance between aggression and consistency is key to success.

Overall, incorporating the lob shot into your pickleball strategy can elevate your game and help you win points in singles matches.

9. Use Drop Shots Sparingly

Drop shots are shots that are designed to land incredibly short on the court, or just over the net in some cases, making it harder for your opponent to get to the ball.

Although these shots can be effective, it's crucial to use them sparingly, as they can be tough to execute and may give your opponent an advantage if done incorrectly.

While the drop shot can be an effective tool in singles pickleball, it's important to use it sparingly and strategically. When playing singles, your opponent has more court to cover, and a well-executed drop shot can force them to sprint to the net, leaving them vulnerable to a follow-up shot.

However, if done incorrectly, it can easily be returned for a winner, giving your opponent the upper hand. It's important to consider the court conditions, such as the speed of the surface, and your opponent's tendencies before attempting this shot.

Incorporating drop shots effectively into your pickleball strategy can take your game to the next level, but it requires careful planning and execution.

10. Mix Up Your Shot Selection

When playing singles pickleball, one of the most effective ways to keep your opponent off-balance is to mix up your shot selection. If you find yourself in a rut with your gameplay, it's best to switch it up by varying your shot selection.

Varying your shots can help you to take control of the game and ensure that your opponent can't predict your next move. For instance, hitting a few shots deep to the backhand corner can force your opponent to back up, giving you more room to move forward and control the point.

Additionally, mixing up your shots can help you to keep your opponent behind the non-volley line, which can limit their ability to attack the net. By incorporating a range of shots into your pickleball strategy, you can become a more versatile and effective player, one that is capable of adapting to any situation on the court.


Pickleball singles strategies are all about thinking strategically and adjusting your gameplay to your opponent. These ten tips will help you to play smarter and increase your chances of winning. Remember, it's not always about hitting the most challenging shots, but rather playing wisely and making fewer unforced errors.

Utilize a passing shot when necessary; it can be an effective way to keep your opponent off-balance in pickleball singles matches. Incorporate drop shots sparingly into your game plan, as these require careful planning and execution on the pickleball court.

Last but not least, mix up your shot selection by trying different types of forehands or backhands - this will ensure that you are unpredictable during a match and make it harder for opponents to anticipate what’s coming next!

Keep these tips in mind during your next pickleball match, and watch as your game improves significantly!

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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