7 Pickleball Myths
1. The Team with Superior Skills Wins. Unlike figure skating, diving or synchronized swimming, nobody declares you the PB champ because you've got nice technique. Your ability to be smart and 'find a way to win' counts for a lot.
2. Down the Middle Solves the Riddle. Unless you are putting away a high volley for winner, hitting to the middle causes more problems than it solves. Sure, your opponents might get confused about who will hit the ball (decent teams communicate well and make those plans in advance), but by hitting down the centre of the court you allow your opponents' best player to hit all the shots they like! Can you think of another sport where it is smart to let the other team's best player the ball?
3. PB Is All About the Soft Game. While slow, carefully placed shots have a very important role to play, sometimes a good dose of pace is highly productive. Why play third shot drop if your opposition can't handle a hard drive when they are at the net? We don't need to go over the top here, but let's please not be dogmatic about only hitting slow.
4. The Serve and Return Don't Really Matter. While you probably won't hit many outright winners with your first shot, that doesn't mean you shouldn't care about hitting them effectively. A well-placed return can make it harder for your opponents to play a good third shot. A powerful serve might lead to a weak return that you can pounce on. The serve and return are opportunities to swing the momentum in your favour -- be thoughtless about them at your peril!
5. You Don't Have to Move Much. While you might have the most beautiful forehand anyone has seen, it doesn't matter much if you can't get to the ball to use it. PB can be played without a lot of physical effort, but the truth is that the level will be quite low. Like it or not, pickleball is primarily about moving and while we can't all move like the pros, we can all have the same desire to move as well as our body will allow.
6. Dinking is the Most Important Skill. While soft, slow balls in the kitchen are a unique part of pickleball, the truth is that for most players below the 4.0 level, matches usually include very few extended dinking exchanges. Since a dink is typically a response to a high-quality drop, matches that don't have a lot of good drops don't see a lot of dinks.
7. There is a 'Right' Way to Play Pickleaball. Just like there is no 'right' way to make a salad, paint a house or ride a skateboard, there is no objectively correct way to play PB. While some approaches may be more effective than others -- and this may change from one match to another depending on your opponents -- if you are playing by the rules of the game then you are playing pickleball. Period.
I'm not saying that 'anything goes' or that every method is is as effective as every other one. But I am saddened when I see people ridicule others for not 'playing properly' just because they don't do it exactly how the pros do. While you might roast a more delicious chicken than I do, that doesn't mean that my way is wrong. It just means that I've got some work to do if I want to improve.
Mark Renneson is the founder and Head Coach at Third Shot Sports. He travels across North America delivering pickleball clinics for players of all ages and levels of skill. And, he does roast a mean chicken.