Jeff Shank’s Pickleball Strategy – Opponent Weaknesses, Soft Game Necessities & More

One of the topics in this segment of Jeff Shank’s tips is how to find the weaknesses in your opponent’s pickleball game and what to do once you have that information.

NOTE – When playing in a non-competitive environment, if I find that our team is much better than the other team or only one person on the other team, I work with my partner to alter our strategy:

1 – Don’t try to overwhelm a weaker player with the serve. Give them a chance to return the ball otherwise nobody is going to have any fun.

2 – Don’t hit every shot to the weaker player. Include the stronger opponent as well. I often go out of my way to hit to a stronger player especially when I know they are better than me. I feel really good if I can score a point off of a very strong player. Keep pickleball a fun game by hitting to both opposing players. One way to do that is to always hit to the person on the other team serving the ball.

3 – When I hit a ball to a weaker player, I will often hit a shot I think they can handle, i.e. less pace, etc. This gives me practice in learning to control my shot and it provides practice for the receiving player in returning the ball.

CAUTION: I have found myself in the following situation, but I don’t worry about it:

I have been on a team and we discovered that we are potentially much stronger than the opposing team. We may find ourselves ahead by five or six points so we begin to lighten up. At times, the opposing team is then able to muster enough good shots to make it a close game or even win. To me that’s OK. If it is a clubhouse game for fun, it doesn’t really matter.

NOTE: This is my personal philosophy and I am not suggesting it has to be yours.

4 – I sometimes use a game with less skilled players to practice shots I need to work on such as the third shot drop shot.

What does Jeff Shank say about the soft game? I know many players who will try very hard to avoid dinking and playing the soft game. Why does Jeff suggest the soft game is so important to learn?

What does he suggest when you mishit a ball?

What does Jeff say is “more important than just about anything else?”

Other topics include the importance of drills, how to anticipate your opponent’s shot so you can be ready and what to do when a high ball is headed to the non-volley zone on your side of the net.

NOTE – To find out about this series of posts, i.e. 100 Pickleball Strategies by Jeff Shank, read the first post HERE


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