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Pickleball Skills: How to Add New Shots to Your Game

Celebrated pickleball coach Steve Dawson

Steve Dawson

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By Steve Dawson

Here are my answers to questions I’ve been asked about adding new shots to your game:

When should a player think about adding new shots?

You must consider adding new shots to your game every time you go out on the pickleball court. Whether you’re playing a game or not, it should always be on your mind to make yourself better. After all, this is a game of mastery – like any other sport in the world.

What’s the process to feeling comfortable with trying new shots in practice and match play?

This involves four steps…

Step 1 – You must recognize that you have a shot that you want to learn.

Step 2 – Get yourself a practice partner to practice your new shot. This requires determination, so practice it, drill it and repeat.

Step 3 – Join practice games with players below your level. Trying to beat someone will not allow you to venture the new shot, so practice it while playing games with players who are not as good as you are. It doesn’t matter if you win or lose; your goal is to master the new shot.

Step 4 – Once you feel confident that you have learned the shot, you can enter more meaningful games and tournaments.

However, you must remember that it is all about persistence. Stay at it! Do not lose course, and do not lose faith.

Are there obvious progressions for new shots? (i.e., a shot tree)

Of course! The way you plan to add new shots to your arsenal is number one. When playing a game, you must realize that you will need certain answers to other players’ shots. This means you will have to play certain shots to attack people.

It’s not a bad idea to see how people play their shots. If you come across a great shot, pick it up and learn it. This way, you can build a wide arsenal of shots you have mastered.

What advice can you give players who get frustrated when incorporating new shots?

It’s easy for players to feel frustrated. The advice is to be persistent, stay focused and to not lose course and faith. Think, ‘If one player can do it, so can I.’ It takes time to master shots, but you will get there sooner or later. This is what makes the experience of mastering a sport more enjoyable.

So, don’t quit. Just keep going!

How will a player be able to measure success with these shots?

Before you add a shot, you have to really feel ready to incorporate it into your game. First, you drill on it. Practice day in and day out until you recognize that you are ready to reveal it in your games.

Initially, you can measure the success of your shots by playing against players at lower levels. Once you feel confident, add your shot when playing in a tournament. At this point, you will know that you have mastered it and that it can be successful. This is the stage when you don’t need to think, ‘Oh, today I’m going out on the court to work on this shot.’ That shot becomes your second nature; it comes naturally and is now part of you. It will fly off the paddle without you thinking about it. Your mastered shots are who you are and what you do.