Advantage #1: Allowing your opponents to take position at the net.
When you're serving, your opponents already have the advantage since one of them starts at the non-volley zone line. Then a few years ago, the "third shot drop shot rule" came into favor. The thought was that using the softer, slower drop shot would allow you and your partner to move up from the baseline (where you were stuck as servers because of the double bounce rule) and get to the net.
That made sense—but returning a drop shot also allows your opponent in the back court to run up to the non-volley zone. That's not what you want.
If you can keep your opponents—even one of them--
in the back court, do it.
- you can reach a greater number of shots without moving very far;
- you can return balls faster and with more momentum;
- you can target positions on the court with better accuracy;
- your opponents can't target your feet;
and the greatest reason is . . .
- you can hit DOWN.
Advantage #2: Hitting the ball in an upward arc within the opponent's reach.
The farther you are from the non-volley zone line, the more you must angle the ball up to get it over the net. Any ball traveling in an upward arc is ripe for a put-away smash that may be hard or impossible for you to return. One of the hardest things for me as a new player was to keep the ball low over the net.
If you have to bend to retrieve a shot or otherwise return an upward-moving ball, return a soft shot: drop shot, dink, or lob. Which you chose depends on where you are on the court and other conditions. From the back or mid court, choose the drop shot. When at the net, dink. A lob over your opponents' heads can sometimes be beneficial as it sends at least one opponent back and may give you time to move up to the NVZ.
Advantage #3: Playing offense more than defense.
More points are won in pickleball by playing a good defense than a good offense.
- Keeping the ball in play is foremost. If you can do only that, you will win every point, because eventually your opponent will fault. You don't need to make fancy corner shots or hard line drives. Just keep the ball in the court and don't fault.
- Think ahead. Consider what your opponents will do next and prepare for it. Watch their eyes and body angles, as those will help you know where they're aiming their shot.
- Study strategies so you'll know automatically which shot to make in each situation and how to counter your opponents' tactics.
It's up to you to make your opponents' game difficult. Be tough!