Singles pickleball is a game that tests your speed, agility, and endurance. With no partner for support, you must be strategically innovative and athletically versatile to control the court alone. Though singles and doubles share some rules and techniques, singles demand a different approach. You’ll need to master new skills, singles pickleball strategy, and court coverage tactics to outplay your opponent.

12 strategies to help in Singles Pickleball

Here are 12 essential strategies to help you thrive in singles pickleball matches:

1. Serve Deep and Control the Baseline

  • The service is your only opportunity to control the point from the start. Aim your serves deep into the backcourt to push opponents behind the baseline. It limits their angle for returns.
  • Mix up left and right placement based on your score. But keep serving within the court – accuracy is vital. Avoid serving too wide or long.
  • Starting each rally with you at the baseline and then deep behind it allows you to dictate the pace. Move forward aggressively on the return and approach the kitchen line. You wanna know about kitchen rules in pickleball?

2. Take Control of the Center

  • In singles, controlling the center of the court is critical. Unlike doubles, where you only cover a side, you must now defend the entire width.
  • Position yourself along the center line or just slightly to the side the ball is headed. React quickly on returns and recover back to the middle.
  • This centralized position lets you minimize lateral movement and Prep for shots to either side. Only overcommit left or right if forced.
– Control the center of the court- React quickly and recover to the middle- Minimize lateral movement
– Control the centre of the court- React quickly and recover to the middle- Minimize lateral movement
Shot Selection
– Target the opponent’s weaker side- Use more cross-court shots- Mix things up
– Move the opponent around with angles- Use drops and lobs selectively
– Play the score; adjust tactics based on lead- When ahead, play conservatively- When behind, use controlled aggression
– Sidestep quickly to cover shots- Improve agility and lateral speed- Manage energy wisely
Mental Game
– Stay composed; don’t dwell on mistakes- Cultivate an unflappable mindset- Use score awareness to guide tactics

3. Target Your Opponent’s Weaker Side

  • Observe opponents to determine if they have a weaker backhand or forehand. Most players do.
  • Feed shots cross-court to draw them into using their weaker stroke. They’ll make more errors or be forced into weaker returns.
  • But don’t become predictable. Mix some down the line or opposite side shots to keep them guessing. I generally favor the weaker wing.

4. Move Your Opponent Around

  • The clever use of angles is critical in singles. Even more so than doubles. Moving opponents side-to-side wears them down since you must cover the whole court.
  • Hit sharp cross-court angles to open up the court. Bring them forward with drop shots, then move them back with deep groundstrokes.
  • Vary pace and placement intentionally. An unpredictable game keeps opponents off balance and creates openings.

5. Limit Your Opponent’s Options

  • Whenever you can, hit strong, forcing shots to the corners that push opponents deep behind the baseline.
  • It allows you time to approach the kitchen line for a put-away. It also limits their options for returns.
  • Even a moderately paced but well-placed corner shot makes it challenging for them to do more than block or lob defensively. That gives you control.

6. Rush the Net Off Weak Returns

  • Any short balls or weak returns are golden opportunities to charge forward in singles. Unlike doubles, you have no partner to cover, so be aggressive.
  • Look to pounce forward into the non-volley zone after even mildly weak returns. But wait to overcommit too soon. Rushing at the slightest opportunity can backfire.
  • Volley winners, swinging volleys, blocks, and dinks are incredibly effective when moving forward. But make sure to pick bright times to approach.

7. Use Drop Shots and Lobs Selectively

  • Drops and lobs are essential shots. But given the demanding speed of singles, their use requires careful thought. Don’t just hit them randomly.
  • Only hit drop shots when opponents are well behind the non-volley zone. If they’re already forward, a drop feeds their put-away.
  • Save lobs primarily for defensive situations when opponents charge the net. Please make sure they are high and deep enough to work.

8. Play the Score

  • Singles matches see more variation between conservative and aggressive tactics as the score changes.
  • Early in games, favor consistency and depth over aggressive shots. As the score tightens, controlled offense gains value.
  • When ahead, more conservative placements to force errors work. When behind, calculated risks in going for winners become necessary.

9. Sidestep Quickly

  • Agility and quick lateral footwork are so valuable in singles pickleball. Unlike doubles, you have no partner to cover sideline shots.
  • Drills to improve lateral speed and multi-directional agility are hugely beneficial. Side-shuffle steps and crossovers for side-to-side speed pay off.
  • Work on your footwork and ability to change direction rapidly. It lets you reach more shots others would miss.

10. Use Score Awareness

  • Knowing the score is more vital in singles than doubles. Since you serve from alternating sides based on even/odd points, track the score.
  • If you keep track, you may line up correctly. Worse, you can foot-fault by serving from the wrong side.
  • Also, let the score guide your strategy. When ahead, play safer. When behind, amp up calculated aggression.
Use Score Awareness

11. Manage Your Energy

  • Singles are athletically demanding. With less rest between points and no partner, managing energy is critical.
  • Use brief breaks between games and when switching sides to recover. Breathe fully and clear your mind.
  • Stay hydrated and avoid rushing serves and returns to conserve bursts of energy for when you need them most. Think long-term.

12. Master the Mental Game

  • Singles can be mentally tiring with all the pressure solely on you. Cultivate a calm mindset.
  • Stay calm, positive, and composed – especially when games get tight. Don’t dwell on mistakes or get emotional.
  • Outward confidence paired with inner clarity gives you an edge. Welcome pressure as a privilege rather than dread it as a burden.

With these strategies, you can thrive in the demanding world of singles pickleball. Analyze opponents for weaknesses. Move them around the court. Control the net at every chance. Boost your physical skills, court coverage tactics, and strategic smarts. Success in singles requires technical mastery along with athletic versatility and mental toughness. Train hard and play smart.

Skinny Singles Pickleball Strategy

Skinny singles is a popular variation of pickleball played on half a court. It can be an effective training tool or just a fun way to play. The narrower court area changes strategy compared to average singles.

You also need to read the pickleball scoring rules.

How Skinny Singles Works

  • Only half the width of the court is used – either the even or odd-numbered side.
  • Players swap sides after each point, moving from even to odd
  • Some play cross-court only, others down the line
  • Scoring and rules are generally the same as singles

Strategy Adjustments

  • Serves must be very accurate since the court is narrower
  • Returns are best-hit cross-court diagonally to pull opponents wide
  • Drop shots work well since opponents have less time to react
  • Hitting behind opponents is key; passing shots can be very effective
  • Lobs are risky as opponents don’t have as far to run back

Benefits of Skinny Singles

  • Tests and improves shot accuracy since the court is narrower
  • Encourages use of less comfortable strokes like backhands
  • Develops skills at hitting passing shots and angle returns
  • It forces you to cover less distance, improving court efficiency
  • It provides a fun, fast-paced change from average singles play

The narrow court dimensions of skinny singles pickleball require players to be more precise and make adjustments. But it can be a fun way to work on accuracy while getting a great workout. Use it strategically for improvement!


Singles pickleball requires players to be more versatile, quicker, and innovative than doubles. With no partner for support, you must strategically dominate the court alone. Mastering skills like serves, returns, court positioning, and shot selection is critical. But athleticism, agility, and mental toughness are equally important.

Implement these 12 strategies to outmaneuver opponents, control the net, and force errors. Strong technical skills, clever court tactics, and composure under pressure will carry you to single success. Make these principles your pickleball blueprint, whether new to singles or looking to improve. Singles is a demanding yet thrilling game. Embrace the challenge and elevate your play.


Should I serve wide or down the middle in singles play?

Serving down the middle, near the center line, is best. It allows you to start each point closer to the middle of the court. Serving very wide forces you to cover more ground.

Is hitting lots of winners advisable in singles matches?

Not necessarily. Due to the fast pace of singles, going for too many low-percentage winners can lead to errors. It’s often better to play higher-percentage shots and wait for opponents’ mistakes.

How often should I charge the net in singles?

Be opportunistic and charge the net when opponents hit short balls or weak returns. But don’t overdo it. Rushing forward at every chance can leave you vulnerable if they hit good passing shots.

Is hitting high lobs a good singles tactic?

Lobs are risky in singles because opponents can smash them away if they are not hit perfectly. Use lobs sparingly, mainly for defensive variety when opponents charge up.

Should I conserve energy in singles play?

Yes, singles matches require more running than doubles, with less rest between points. Use brief breaks to recover when switching sides. Avoid rushing serves and sprints that deplete your energy too quickly.

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