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5 Ways to Improve Your Soft Game

January 26, 2023

Improving your soft game is something very important as you level up your Pickleball skills. Starting out as a 3.0 player, I had great athleticism, enough power, decent placement, and poor soft game and dinks. I kept popping the ball up too high at the net, never using a reset, and dinking in the same spot every time. My soft game needed work and I wanted to improve. 

Here are 5 ways to improve your soft game:

  1. Bend Your Knees

    I used all arm and wrist and never bent my knees to get under the ball and lift it out of the air. At the kitchen line or for resets, its important to bend your knees, get under the ball, and let the paddle do the work. Lifting the ball with your paddle while bending your knees to get under it will instantly improve your soft game.

  2. Follow Through

    Don't stop your motion short when contacting the ball. You need to use a fluid motion when lifting the ball over the net and following through will help your contact point and consistency. Don't chop at the ball, follow through.

  3. Visualize

    Watch the ball into your paddle, and also visualize where you want the ball to go. Keep your eyes forward and watch the ball.  Looking at where you want the ball to go and where your opponent is will help you hit in the right areas.

  4. Hinge from Your Shoulder

    Instead of bending your wrist and using lots of arm motion when at the net, use your shoulder as a hinge to get the ball over. By keeping your wrist in place it will keep less potential for errors out of your hit and makes for smooth contact with the ball. This will keep pop-up to a minimum as you improve your paddle skills. Let your shoulder and paddle do the work, not your wrist.

  5. Practice/Drill/Practice/Drill

    Practice your soft game as much as you can whether during rec play or on your own or with a partner drilling. If you play games where you aren't needing to engage into a soft game, then find a higher level of court to play on or force yourself to slow the ball down even when put-aways are possible. This might not help you beat your opponent with smashes but it will keep you in the short game longer which will improve your touch. The higher level of games you play, the more touch will be needed so practice like you play! Challenge yourself with the short game by finding other players who are wanting to do the same.

  6. BONUS TIP: Choose the Right Paddle!

    If you find yourself wanting to improve your game you're probably in the market for a new paddle. Make sure you pick a paddle that compliments your game as well. If you want more touch and control at the net, don't just buy the most expensive power paddle on the market. That may end up causing more frustrations because you may not be ready for the paddle at the moment until you work on some of the other issues mentioned above. Choose a nice paddle that has good touch, control, and a forgiving paddle face. Typically a thicker core on a paddle will offer more touch at the net from a thinner more solid surface paddle.  

These are the 5 most helpful tips I used to improve my soft game and I hope you can implement at least one of these into your game to help you. Get on the court and try these tips out and drill and practice when you can. It's not about winning the rec play, it's about improving your game so you can enjoy the game more and improve in the long term. 

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