How to Avoid Being Relentlessly Targeted on the Court

Break these 20 bad habits that are putting your pickleball game in jeopardy...

Target practice with bullet holes

How to Avoid Being Relentlessly Targeted on the Court

In recreational play, some pickleball players hit balls to both of their opponents while others target one specific player for whatever reason or target the player that they perceive is weaker like they would in a tournament. (During rec play, we recommend hitting balls to the better player, too, so that you improve and it's worth their time when they're actually involved in the game.)

When all four players share a similar skill level (perhaps their ratings are within 0.5), the person hitting the ball has to quickly determine what the right or best shot is and where to place the ball. Typically, players make quick decisions based on highest to lowest percentages.

Here are some common habits and tendencies that create opportunities for opponents to target players...and ultimately win the point:

  1. Standing towards one side of the court to avoid hitting with their backhand.

  2. Popping the ball up while dinking or dropping.

  3. Playing the game in the transition zone instead of at the net allowing the opponents to see and aim for the feet.

  4. Playing too aggressively and hitting the balls out or in the net.

  5. When on the receiving side, the receiver stays back for multiple hits without attempting to get to the non-volley zone line near partner at the net.

  6. Standing too close to the baseline and getting jammed up with deep/fast serves and returns.

  7. Charging towards the non-volley zone line without first discerning the quality of the shot.

  8. Attempting to hit balls on the go.

  9. After driving the ball from the baseline, standing back to watch.

  10. When returning a ball from the baseline, automatically moves up directly to the middle of their side (perhaps at a 90 degree angle), instead of traveling on an angle towards the ball or covering their sideline, as necessary.

  11. When on the serving side, creeps into the court before the ball is hit and being certain where the ball is going.

  12. Standing at the non-volley zone upright and with their paddle down; not maintaining the ready position.

  13. Dropping their paddle head down after each hit.

  14. Not moving laterally while at the non-volley zone to follow the ball -- adopting a "this is my side of the court and that is your side of the court" mentality.

  15. Not knowing how to retrieve lobs or having a plan for who gets which lob.

  16. Being planted on their heels instead of light on their toes.

  17. Shielding away from hard balls instead of preparing to block.

  18. Having the tendency to hit high balls heading way out.

  19. Being unable to slow down the game by resetting.

  20. Being too passive and safe versus comfortable with attacking and counter-attacking.

If you're struggling to break any of these habits, consider hiring a local pickleball coach.

And, you might want to check out our resources available under the SHOP tab, such as The 100-Point Pickleball Assessment which is designed for players who want to improve their pickleball game.