Succeeding in pickleball requires mastery of a diverse range of shots. While the fundamentals of serving, volleying, and groundstrokes are essential, integrating advanced techniques and specialty shots into your repertoire is key to outmaneuvering opponents.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll break down 25 must-know pickleball shots. For each, we’ll cover proper technique, strategy insights, and tips for practice. 

25 Must-Know Shots in Picklebll

1.  The Serve

A versatile and consistent serve is vital as the shot starts each point. Use these techniques to improve:

  • Vary placement. Aim for deep corners and edges of service boxes. Mix in shorter angles.
  •  Add spin. Pickleball Topspin and sidespin serve curve in the air, deceiving opponents.
  • Use a consistent toss. Toss the ball to the same spot each time, leading with the paddle.
the serve

2.  The Return

Aggressive returns stop opponents’ momentum and let you seize control early in points.

  • Pick targets. Aim returns deep or at feet to force weak replies.
  • Favor forehands. The forehand return is more consistent and penetrating.
  • Move quickly. Sprint into position and split-step to prepare. Don’t be flat-footed.
  • Take returns early. Move up in court to intercept servers’ power when possible.

3.  The Dink

Master control and finesse with the essential Pickleball Dinking strategy and tips:

  • Use gentle strokes. Let the ball drop off your paddle lightly with the touch.
  • Focus on trajectory. Lift the ball higher over the net than you think necessary.
  • Place precisely. Target opponent weaknesses and openings.

4.  The Drop Shot

Disguise drop shots well to bring opponents up:

  • Vary speed and spin. Mix in high topspin drops and slice backspin drops.
  • Conceal as drives or dinks. Don’t telegraph the drop or it will be attacked.
  • Use open-face techniques. The Caress underspin drops delicately off the paddle face.

5.  The Groundstroke (Drive)

Pound flat drives to push opponents back and open the court:

  • Transfer weight. Shift forward to your front foot as you make contact.
  • Extend through contact. Follow through out in front of your body.
  • Limit backswings. Compact strokes generate plenty of power. No big windups.
the groundstroke ( drive)

6.  The Volley

Whether punching or blocking, volleys help dictate play in the non-volley zone:

  • Use firm wrists. Keep wrists locked as the ball makes contact.
  • Limit backswings. Shorten takebacks to time volleys off fast shots.
  • Punch low volleys. Swing down and out to punch volleys away from opponents’ reaches.

7.  The Lob

Surprise opponents with lobs when they least expect them:

  • Use sparingly. Don’t overuse lobs and become predictable.
  • Disguise them as drives or dinks. Hide your intention to lob.
  • Hit over backhand shoulders. Lob to weaker sides for tougher replies.

8.  The Overhead Smash

Punish opponents with smashes when given lollipop opportunities:

  • Contact high. Let the ball drop below net height for full leverage.
  • Swing fast and loose. Accelerate paddle speed for maximum pace.
  • Snap the wrist. Flick the wrist for a whipping finish to create an angle.
  • Move back. Retreat to give yourself room to swing fully and move forward.
the overhead smash

9.  The Roll Volley

Counter opponents’ touch shots with topspin volley attacks:

  • Brush up aggressively. Brush under the ball to impart heavy topspin.
  • Move forward on contact. Continue toward the net to cut off reply angles.
  • Keep volleys low. Drive topspin volleys down near net level.
  • Use Continental grip. This allows fuller wrist action for spin.

10.  The Block Volley

Frustrate opponents by blocking pace back softly:

  • Meet force with force. Absorb shots directly with a firm “wall” at contact.
  • Limit movement. Keep paddle and arm still to block straight back.
  • Return low over the net. Float blocked volleys softly where opponents can’t attack.

11.  The Half Volley

Master half volleys to move forward decisively from the transition zone:

  • Use continental grip. Provides flexibility for quick exchanges.
  • Limit backswings. Prepare a paddle in front and don’t take full backswings.
  • Stay low through shots. Maintain leverage by keeping knees bent.

12.  The Spin Serve

Add spin to serves to manipulate ball movement and placement:

  • Toss slightly off-center. This allows room to swing into the ball.
  • Brush along the outside of the ball. This imparts a sideways spin.
  • Accelerate paddle speed. Faster motion increases the spin rate.
  • Bend knees to load. Load hips and legs to transfer power upward.
  • Follow through high. Finish serves with high follow-throughs to maintain spin.

13.  The Slice Shot

Use Pickleball Backspin slices to float balls low and change pace:

  • Point paddle face down. Angle face slightly downwards.
  • Swing slightly upward. The low-to-high path imparts backspin.
  • Lead with the upper elbow. This keeps the stroke compact.
the slice shot

14.  The Inside-Out Forehand

Wrong-foot opponents with forehand shots aimed at backhands:

  • Target open courts. Hit angled shots to pull opponents wide.
  • Disguise down-the-line. Hide forehand targets until the last moment.
  • Step into the shot. Take a small step to load your hips and legs.

15.  The Inside-Out Backhand

Do the same but aim at the forehand sides instead:

  • Exploit mobility gaps. Attack lesser forehand reaches.
  • Move laterally into shots. Side shuffle to align hips and shoulders.
  • Keep the torso aimed forward. Don’t over-rotate to target forehands.
  • Use for defense too. Hit to forehands when pulled wide on backhands.

16.  The Misdirection Volley

Keep opponents guessing by quickly redirecting volleys:

  • Sell deception. Convincingly fake volley paths before redirecting.
  • Disguise with torso and feet. Twist upper body against volley direction.
  • Watch for reactions. Look for opponents leaning the wrong way.

17.  The Poach

Take balls from your partner’s zone to surprise opponents:

  • Poach strategically. Do it when opponents are stretched or wrong-footed.
  • Communicate with partner. Let them know your poaching in pickleball intentions.
  • Hit away from opponents. Snap-hit volley poaches to open court areas.
  • Cover partners after poaching. Back them up in case opponents reply down the line.

18.  The Erne

Skillfully bank shots off the side net posts to aim them sharper crosscourt:

  • Use heavy topspin. Bounce shots into posts at sharper angles.
  • Swing inside-out. Clear posts by brushing inside balls on an angled approach.
  • Target weaker sides. Erne to put away poorly-covered backhands.

19.  The Around-the-Post Shot

When pulled extremely wide, wrap these shots directly around posts:

  • Run balls down. Chase down severely angled shots at full speed.
  • Make sharp redirection. Sharply knife underspin to hook shots around.
  • Don’t hesitate. Commit to the ATP shot once the opportunity is clear.

20.  The Punch Volley

Attack mid-court volleys using fast, punching motions:

  • Limit backswings. Simply punch forward without big windups.
  • Stay compact. Keep elbows tight to the sides for fast maneuverability.
  • Punch through the ball. Follow through volleys.

21.  The Flip Volley

Scoop under high floating shots with a delicate touch:

  • Use an open paddle face. The wide face helps lift backspin shots.
  • Flip upward. Scoop upward behind overheads.
  • Finish high. Follow through over shoulders.

22.  The Fake Dink

Disguise blistering drives as soft dinks to catch opponents off guard:

  • Hide preparation. Take back paddle as if dinking then accelerate into drive.
  • Lean forward on the front foot. Sell the fake by looking like you’ll dink.
  • Hit flat and deep. The less backswing, the more convincing fakes are.
  • Go down the line. Wrong-foot crosscourt dink stances down the line.

23.   The 3rd Shot Drive

Punish weak returns with a flat 3rd Shot Pickleball drives skidding deep:

  • Read serves and returns. Anticipate weaker shots to jump on.
  • Move quickly. Sprint up shots and use momentum to power drives.
  • Hit flat and low. Keep drives hard, flat, and out of smash range.

24.  The Net Rush

Seize the net decisively when opportunities arise:

  • Rush on dinks. Close distance on soft shots to intercept.
  • Split step and explode. Time opponent shots perfectly.
  • Hit quick reflex volleys. Punch or drop volleys away from opponents.
  • Approach from edges. Don’t crowd the middle – take straight lines in.
the net rush

25.  The Jam Shot

Aim these shots right at opponents to disrupt their movement and spacing:

  • Target crosscourt changes. Jam up backhand-to-forehand transfers.
  • Prevent poaching. Fire them straight at would-be poachers.
  • Use unpredictably. Surprise jams when opponents expect angles.
  • Go down the middle. Hit right between opponents when together at the net.

·         Finish shots. Don’t hold up – jam forcefully.


By thoroughly practicing these shots – from essentials like serves to advanced techniques like the Erne – you’ll develop the complete repertoire to thrive in competitive play against all styles of opponents. Master these shots, and you’ll have an answer for any situation!


What are the basic strokes in pickleball? 

The basic strokes are the groundstroke, volley, and dink.

What is the most important shot to master as a beginner? 

The serve.

When should you hit a drop shot? 

When your opponent is out of position or moving backward.

What pickleball grip types allow for the most wrist action and spin on volleys? 

The continental grip.

What shot can you hit around the net post when pulled wide? 

The around-the-post (ATP) shot.

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