Think about it: how many times have you won a rally with a put-away shot or a great sideline drive? Now think about how many times you’ve lost points by putting the ball into the net or out of bounds or the times the ball got by you? We remember and love those glory shots, but they're few. Pickleball requires that one side miss a shot in order for the other side to score. To win points, you need to concentrate on not missing shots, not on making the great shot that will win the point. Keep the ball in play and you will win more often.
When I make winning shots, they're most often what I call “changeups.’ In baseball, a changeup pitch is usually slower than previous pitches and it throws the batter off the rhythm of a hit. Examples of changeups in pickleball are when you deliver a dink instead of returning a hard drive or when you break out of dinking with a hard, fast shot. Such shots break the rhythm of your opponent’s expectation and can catch them unprepared. It’s something to practice on the receiving end, too, because the more you can learn to deal with these changeups, the better your game will be.
The soft game can win many rallies. This is because many players don’t spend nearly as much time working on their soft game, so they’re less prepared to play it well, and their dinks end up in the net or fly too high. The soft game also gives you a break and lets you to catch your breath.
When you go out to play, don’t over-analyze your game but keep mental notes about what worked and what didn’t, and see if making changeups and perfecting your soft game can help you play better.