So many websites offer pickleball tips and information now that it’s sometimes hard to find what you need quickly or to locate the best.
My list is not comprehensive, and I’m sure I’ve missed sites that should have been included. But I offer this as a starting point if you are looking for tips, tricks, basic info, and/or strategies.
This list is NOT an endorsement of any site, nor a ranking of any over another. My goal is simply to list what I consider the best of the sites that provide useful information contained in clearly presented and easy-to-navigate online sites.
My List of "Best Sites for 'Text & Graphics' Information"
The United States of America Pickleball Association (USAPA.org) is the definitive source for Rules, Places to Play, and a list of upcoming events (click the “Events” tab at the right of the screen). Their “Education and Training” menu contains good information about strategy, skill development, and safety, among a host of other offerings. USAPA members can also read content included in their new monthly Pickleball Magazine.
Coach Mo’s PickleballCoach.com has a wealth of written information. Coach Mo was a tennis pro who has won numerous pickleball accolades. He markets video lessons, but his new website offers a strategy guide you may read or print, a compilation of monthly tips, and a link to his “Pickleball Coach App” available for Android users.
PickleballCentral.com is one of the largest retailers of pickleball goods via the Internet, but their site offers a great Paddle Selection Guide. They also write a blog that has useful information. Their posts include keywords that allow you to search by topic.
Pickleball Experts also carries a full line of goods and they donate 10% of their proceeds to local charities (they're based in Auburn, WA). Their interactive Paddle Selection Guide may be what you need to find your next best game changer.
Prem Carnot was a table tennis champion and is now a 5.0 pickleball player who teaches clinics. His site, PickleballHelp.com, features an Articles and Strategies blog that has a keyword archive for searching (scroll way down on the right).
Multi-National and International Champion Jennifer Lucore’s blog sits atop her sales site AllPickleball.com. She offers blog posts about various topics, categorized by keywords so they are searchable, and there's also an index on the lower right.
A.J. Fraites' Pickleball.biz is a site devoted growing all things pickleball. He has a blog with good information and the entire site is mapped for easy reference. Great source of information.
Jeff Shank hasn't added information recently, but his blog contains a wealth of information that's worth a look.
Of course, if you're reading this, you've found my pickleball blog at GaleLeach.com. I also publish a Pickleball Tips blog that is searchable by keyword and has a list of topics. You can also subscribe to my page (GaleLeach.com) and receive notifications when new pickleball postings occur.
My List of "Best Video Instruction" Sites
For those who prefer to get their information via video, several good sites are available. My only complaint about most of the video sites is that their content isn't tagged with keywords, making it hard to locate the information you want.
PickleballChannel.com’s videos are top-notch, covering diverse aspects of pickleball and “mini clinics” through their “Pickleball 411” segments.
Pickleball Legend Norm Davis has a series of YouTube videos that offer instruction on the basics of just about everything. His videos are clear and easy to follow.
Likewise, Deb Harrison’s YouTube Channel is filled with great information about the basics and many topics not ordinarily covered by others. Worth a look.
My Favorite Pickleball “Radio” Podcast
Pickleball even has its own podcast “radio” station. Chris Allen’s “The Pickleball Show” features interviews with top players and coaches offering strategies, tips, and tricks for playing better pickleball, along with reviews of equipment and notes about upcoming tournaments.
As I said at the top, I’m sure I’ve missed some good sites. Send me a note or reply to this post so I can include them later. Meanwhile, I hope this list helps you locate good information that will help take your game to the next level.
I assumed John was one of many pickleball players who don't like the lob, feeling it's a shot for newbies and not worthy of advanced play. However, when I chatted with John, I learned his humorous comment referred to the fact that he's very athletic and can return almost any lob that comes his way. Despite that, John received numerous comments from others, some remarking that better players don't lob and others praising the poor lob's virtues.
The lob isn't as wretched as some would have you believe. Players who are new to the game or who play outdoors in windy weather find the lob difficult to control. The ball hits the ceiling or lands out of bounds, or it doesn't go far enough, and tall players smash it back. Seniors sometimes like it, since their opponents can't get back fast enough to return it (unlike the younger John). With practice, the lob should have a place in your pickleball arsenal for both offense and defense.
The lob is a high, slow shot that gives you time to move up to the non-volley zone or to recover from a shot that moved you way off center. If hit well, it will force at least one opponent to the back court to retrieve it. Unfortunately for short people, those who don't have a great overhead shot, and those who aren't as young as John, the lob can be a great tool in your box.
How to Execute a Good Lob
The key to a good lob is to send it well over the head of your opponent while keeping it in bounds. The shot itself is much like making a high, underhand serve, where you carry the ball on your paddle longer. Don't make it too low, or your opponent will smash it back. Like anything else in pickleball, it takes practice. The lob works best if you place it near your opponent's backhand; in doubles play, your percentage shot is just off the center (see below).
One of the main reasons players don't like the lob is that their shots either go long (out of bounds) or short (opponents smash it back). Don't aim for the very back of the court. You're better off making a higher shot that lands a foot or so inside the baseline to avoid it landing out of bounds. Remember, though, that high shots are harder for your opponents to see, especially outdoors, and return with power.
Once you master lob execution, you can also add topspin by brushing up on the ball while you carry it upward. Doing this two benefits: the ball drops sooner, making it easier to stay in bounds, and it bounces higher, making the ball harder to retrieve.
If you're playing outdoors, pay attention to the wind. Make a few practice lobs before the game to see how it affects the ball. The wind can be an asset: the opponent who gauges where your shot will land based on the direction of your paddle at the moment of impact may be well off the mark when the wind carries your shot sideways out of her reach.
Another great lob can be made when all players at at the net. When you're in a dinking war, wait for the moment when you can add a bit more power and loft to your normal dink shot to create a lob. If your opponents are not paying close attention, you can catch them off guard with this cleverly disguised shot that will send them back to the baseline.
Defending Against the Lob
Whether you're playing singles or doubles, you must get behind the lob in the back court as fast as possible. In doubles play, when both you and your partner are at the net, the partner who can run back to take the ball on the forehand should move. In general, you should move if the ball will fall in your partner's court, regardless of forehand or backhand access because you have a better line of sight. While moving, call "Switch!" which tells your partner to move across to cover your court, now that you're in his.
It's best to turn sideways and shuffle back quickly enough to get into position when you reach the ball. DO NOT run backward, as that is one of the leading causes of injury.
What kind of shot should you return? A deep lob will send your opponent to his back court and will give you time to move up to the kitchen again. If you can't get that much power on the ball, try a drop shot just over the net into the kitchen. This takes practice, but it's a slow shot that should also allow you time to get to the net.
What are your thoughts about the lob?
One of the hardest things for new players to do is get to the non-volley zone (NVZ) line safely when they are serving. When playing doubles, both serving players begin in the backcourt. This gives the opponents an immediate advantage since one of them starts at the NVZ and the other can run up, while you must wait due to the second-bounce rule. Then they usually hit balls long and hard, forcing you remain back.
Being as close to the net as possible provides a huge advantage. You don’t have to move as far to hit a ball, as shown in the diagram above: the woman at the net has much less distance to traverse to return the man's shot when she's at the NVZ. You’re also able to hit balls to the back court more easily and safely because you need less power and the angles are better. Finally, from the NVZ you can dink.
But how do you get there safely?
Current wisdom says your third shot should be a drop shot into the NVZ just over the net. Some players ask why, since you'd be inviting the opponent who's in the back court to run up to the NVZ. As I said earlier, chances are she's already done that, and the drop shot allows you time to move up, too. It also softens the game, making it nearly impossible for your opponents to hit a hard drive your way. When executed well, the ball lands low and soft, and your opponents must return the ball softly to make it over the net.
Executing drop shots and dinks well and consistently requires practice. Lots of it. But that practice pays off when you can remove the opponents' advantage and level the play.
The other thing new players find difficult is to stand right behind the NVZ line with toes almost touching it. They lag back in midcourt or a few feet from the line because they're afraid they might step into the NVZ and volley. With practice, that doesn't happen often, and knowing where the NVZ is becomes a sixth sense. The main reason to stand close to the line is that your opponents can't target your feet. The height of the net makes that impossible when you're close to the line. Stand farther back and your shoes are perfect targets.
When you are forced into the back court (by a lob, for example) during a rally and your opponents are at the net, you can turn to the drop shot again. Your hit has to be soft enough to bounce low, giving you time to run up again, and to prevent them from slamming the ball back. If you don't feel competent with the drop shot, a lob will also work.
Gale Leach lives in Arizona with her husband, two dogs, and a cat. When she's not writing pickleball tips, she's working on the second in a new series of novels for young adults and updating The Art of Pickleball.