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Avoiding the Tendency to Smash

You so often see people trying to smash an overhand from just behind the non-volley line and then blast the ball into the net, that you might think a different strategy is in order. You’re right!

This is one of the harder things to learn in pickleball, yet it is one of the simplest strategies: Don’t try to finish the rally with a hard shot unless you have a clear opportunity. You’ll come out way ahead if you simply rally the ball back to your opponents until you have a guaranteed put-away. That’s why you see players in top competitions patiently rallying softly back and forth in the kitchen for long periods of time. Unless they have a sure shot, they know it is better to wait for their opponents to make mistakes.

Along the same lines, you’re generally better off not driving a hard forehand at your opponents when everyone is at the kitchen. This can work well when you’re at 4.0-level play, because your opponents will not have the experience to react quickly. However, if you try a hard-driven ball at high-level players, it will simply come back to you even harder and faster. Or, a very experienced player may return your blast very softly, reducing the play back down to a mellow kitchen rally.

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