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5 Essential Pickleball Tips for Tennis Players Entering the Court

By Stephen Bass

on Aug 06, 2023

Tennis players often find themselves feeling at home on the pickleball court. With a similar background and the sports sharing a few commonalities, it can be a smooth transition. However, they are distinct sports with unique rules, strategies, and techniques. Here are five useful tips for tennis players who are just starting to play pickleball.

1. Understand the Differences in Equipment and Court Dimensions

First and foremost, tennis players need to understand that pickleball equipment differs substantially from tennis. The pickleball paddle is smaller than a tennis racquet and lacks strings. It has a solid surface, which can significantly alter how you strike the ball. The ball itself is more akin to a whiffle ball, with holes that can impact its flight. Moreover, the court size is significantly smaller than a tennis court, measuring just 20 by 44 feet. This makes for quicker points and requires less running.

There are also paddles designed for tennis players that will give you an advantage on the court! Read more here: The Best Pickleball Paddles for Tennis Players

2. Master the Two-Bounce Rule and the Non-Volley Zone

A key difference between tennis and pickleball is the two-bounce rule. The ball must bounce once on each side of the net before volleys are allowed. This rule can initially be challenging for tennis players who are used to playing volleys right after the serve. Additionally, the non-volley zone, or "kitchen," is an area seven feet from the net where volleys are not permitted. This rule encourages longer rallies and strategic shot placement.

    3. Adapt Your Serving Style

    Tennis players are used to powerful, overhead serves. In pickleball, however, the serve must be underhand, and the ball must bounce before the receiver returns it. The serving motion in pickleball is low to high, and the paddle must be below the waist when it strikes the ball. Transitioning to this type of serve from a traditional tennis serve can be difficult, but with practice, it becomes second nature. 

    4. Work on Your Soft Game

    While tennis rewards powerful shots and serves, pickleball often favors finesse over power. The smaller court and the non-volley zone necessitate a more controlled and strategic game. Dinks (soft shots designed to land in the non-volley zone) are a key part of the sport. As a tennis player, you'll need to adjust your game to incorporate these softer shots and work on maintaining control during long, slow rallies.

    5. Embrace the Community Aspect

    Pickleball is a social sport, typically played in doubles. Tennis players should be ready to embrace this aspect, whether it's coordinating with a partner, making strategic plays, or simply enjoying the camaraderie on the court. Communication with your partner is key in pickleball, and as you adjust to the new game, you'll also need to learn to coordinate your moves with your partner's.

    In conclusion, while tennis players may find many familiar elements in pickleball, understanding and adapting to the differences will significantly improve your game. Remember, the key to mastering any sport lies in understanding its unique strategies, practicing regularly, and most importantly, enjoying the process. Happy Pickleballing!

    Additional Resources:

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