Clearing the Net By Inches
The most important thing in transitioning from beginning to intermediate player, and then again from intermediate to advanced, is to learn to keep the ball low. You want to clear the net by no more than inches. This is not particularly important in serving, as long as the serve goes to the backcourt. It becomes more important in returning the serve, and it becomes super-important in non-volley zone rallies.
The minute your ball goes too high, or even bounces too high, your opponent has offensive opportunities.
One of the best ways to learn to clear the net by ever shorter heights is to use your warm-up time effectively. Many pickleballers just hit the ball back and forth, first at the non-volley line, then from the backcourt as if all they were trying to do is loosen up muscles. Warm-up time can serve a second purpose. You can practice the things that interest you. And the thing that might interest you most of the time, is keeping the ball as low as possible.
In most recreational pickleball, when the ball hits the top of the net, and then lands just on the other side of the net where the opponent can’t get it, everyone groans, and the player who hit the ‘tape’ apologies for doing something awful – for winning the point in an uncivilized way. I, personally, feel this is not the right reaction. I believe anyone who successfully hits the tape ought to be congratulated. I think it is a great sign of skill when players can hit the tape repeatedly.
By the way, it is also a fun challenge to try to return a ball that’s trajectory has been changed by the tape.