How to Determine What Your Pickleball Opponents Weaknesses Are

5 Steps to Discover and Exploit Opponents Weaknesses

Strength bench

How to Find Your Pickleball Opponents Weaknesses

5 Steps to Discover and Exploit Opponents Weaknesses

Every pickleball player makes forced and unforced errors. Of course, we amateurs are looking to reduce the number of unforced errors while increasing the number of winners during each game (even if the "winner" is just one more dink than our opponents had).

We'll be able to determine what our individual opponent's strengths are, and we'll quickly find out what our opposing team's strengths are, too.

In addition to noticing what our opponents are doing well, we also have to quickly figure out where they might struggle individually or collectively.

Here are some steps to discover and exploit an individual opponent's weaknesses:

  1. Observe their playing style. Which shots do they select? How do they move and cover the court? Do they prefer the soft game, hard game or a combination? Where do they stand to receive serves? Do they ever try to run around balls to avoid using their backhand? How well do they communicate with their partner? Will they run to retrieve lobs?

  2. Identify patterns and habits. Some players are quite predictable so look for patterns in their shots or movements. Do they tend to target certain areas? Do they always serve or return to the same spot or with the same pace? Do they have a tendency to creep across the baseline? Do they stay back when their partner is at the NVZ?

  3. Test their potential weaknesses: Once you think you might have identified a weakness, test it by hitting shots to that area or using a particular strategy to exploit it. And, you could ask your partner to do the same.

  4. Evaluate your opponent's response. Observe how your opponent responds to your shots. Do they struggle to return them and make errors? Do they adapt to your changes? Pay attention to their demeanor when they miss shots.

  5. Adjust your strategy. Based on their response, adjust your strategy accordingly. If they struggle with a particular shot, keep setting that up. And, of course, if they adjust and start returning your shots, try a different strategy.

Here are some steps to discover and exploit the opposing team's weaknesses:

  1. Observe their ability to work as a team. Are they communicating around middle balls and lobs? Do they both cover each other when one is pulled off of the court? Do they positively acknowledge each other between points? Do they move up, back and laterally as a cohesive team? Are they working to set each other up for winners? Does one of them seem to be in judgment about the other; if so, for what reasons? If stacking, are they proficient at it or are there problems?

  2. Test their potential weaknesses: Once you think you might have identified a weakness, communicate with your partner and then test it by hitting shots to that area or using a particular strategy to exploit it.

  3. Evaluate the opposing team's response. Observe how the other team responds to your shots and strategies. Are they continuing to struggle or are they adapting well to your changes? Are they now communicating more or less? Are they becoming more conservative or aggressive?

  4. Adjust your strategy. Based on their responses to your shots and strategies, keep adjusting accordingly. Make sure your team isn't becoming predictable. If they're controlling the points with moving to a harder or softer game, take control and do the opposite for a while.

Remember, the importance of staying focused and observant throughout the game to continue to identify and exploit your opponent's weaknesses.