Strategies for 4.0+ skill level! Pickleball is exploding in popularity as a fun sport that players of all ages and athletic abilities can enjoy Pickleball Anywhere. As you advance in skill level, executing various shots becomes critical to outmaneuvering your opponents on the court. This article will explore the must-have shots and strategies of 4.0+ skill level and above. Understanding and developing proficiency in these essential techniques will give you the tools to gain the upper hand against formidable opponents.

Groundstrokes – Controlling the Flow of the Game

The foundation of the elite Pickleball Attack Strategy lies in effectively executed groundstrokes that enable players to control pace and positioning on the court.

The Third Shot Drop

The finesse-based third shot drop utilizes a graceful touch to expertly place the ball just over the non-volley zone, landing precisely to disrupt the opponent’s momentum abruptly. It allows the 4.0+ player to reset the point flow entirely on their terms. The keys are flawlessly consistent placement, depth control, spin variation, and the ability to catch opponents off guard cleanly.

the third shot drop

The Drive

Similarly, cracking extreme topspin drives requires full loose-limbed power transferred through aggressive rotation of the torso and shoulders during an exaggerated follow-through. It emphatically propels the ball deep with sizzling speed to forcibly push opponents well behind the baseline into a defensive stance. Seizing center-court dominance allows technicians at this exalted level to step firmly into the offensive striking territory to win more points. Properly balanced footwork facilitates optimal weight shift to generate maximum pace.

The Volley

Volleys exchanged at a lightning pace near the net are reactionary shots demanding agile reflexes and adaptable swing paths to adjust trajectory mid-motion. By ingeniously commanding different contact points on the paddle face, elite players subtly add or subtract speed while altering angle and depth. It equips them to capably block hot smashes for defensive purposes or hack baffling spin volleys. Ito decisively finishes points when windows briefly open up. Quickfire racket skills rule the net.

Overhead Smash – The Ultimate Scoring Weapon

The overhead smash requires optimal technique and timing to harness its full match-ending power aimed like a missile down the line or crosscourt past a hopeless opponent. With strong footwork enabling ideal positioning underneath the ball at maximum apex, a violently aggressive swing finishes with an exaggerated follow-through, driving down through the ball’s core to maintain control of its blistering speed with gravitas.

overhead smash

When executed flawlessly in high-leverage situations, this definitive putaway shot yields aces outright winners and clinches tight games against outmatched challengers.

Vary Your Shots to Keep Opponents Guessing

To gain an unpredictability edge against elite adversaries, 4.0+ practitioners continuously expand their skills portfolio by integrating a litany of deceptive specialty shots. 

Backhand Volley

The backhand volley is vital for 4.0+ players seeking to expand their capabilities. By honing control and technique on their weaker side, elite shotmakers can capably strike off either wing, enabling superior court coverage. Developing backhand prowess also allows advanced players to adeptly disguise attacking intentions from opponents, mixing angles and unpredictably alternating sides to keep rivals off balance. The versatility, expanded reach, and enhanced deception make mastering the backhand volley instrumental.

Sidearm Volley 

From an unorthodox sideways position, the unique sidearm volley catches opponents utterly unaware of its unusual swing path, often slicing sharply to skip off the surface. By wrong-footing challengers with this unexpected technique, 4.0 technicians artfully mix speeds and trajectories to baffle opponents.

sidearm volley

Striking the ball from a side stance disguises the eventual placement, often drawing shot-choice errors from bewildered foes. When used judiciously to switch things up intermittently, the sidearm volley is ideal for dramatic momentum shifts.

Drop Volley

Mixing in the occasional drop volley against elite opponents can pay massive dividends and open scoring windows. This featherlight finesse shot coaxes adversaries into cheating forward, leaving them vulnerable by gently tipping the ball just over the net so it dies instantly upon landing. The element of surprise renders the drop volley mightier than it appears.

Serves | Setting the Tone from the Start

  • The Slice Serve: Add a naughty twist with this sideways-spinning serve. It kicks and bounces unpredictably, making returns a guessing game for your opponents.
  • The Deep Serve: Power up with this serve that lands deep in the service box. It limits your opponent’s attack options and gives you the upper hand.

Essential Skills to Upgrade Your Pickleball Level

Shotmaking is vital, but other skills like dinking, blocking, and lobbying greatly enhance shot execution. 


  • Master the light touch dink shot that floats just over the non-volley zone
  • Vary placement, speed, and spin to keep opponents off balance
  • Use to move opponents around and create scoring opportunities
  • Hit with control, touch, and consistency


  • Essential for defending against hard-hit shots
  • Redirect pace by meeting the ball solidly with a “dead hand.”
  • Absorb speed and trajectory to bunt balls back
  • Enables short reset and regain positioning
  • The key to counterattack game plans


  • Hit high, arching shots over the opponent’s heads
  • Change of pace to disrupt rhythm
  • Move opponents deep and wide
  • Defensive shot when drawn out of position
  • Offensive shot to open court for put away


  • Swift side-to-side and forward/back movement
  • Balance and control stopping, starting, changing direction
  • Circle step for crossover speed
  • Correct foot positioning ensures solid contact
  • Light on feet, nimble, and quick reactions

Shot Disguise

  • Use grip, stance, backswing variations
  • Hide shot intentions from opponents
  • Vary wrist, elbow, and shoulder action
  • Brilliant shot selection and placement
  • Deceptive swing paths
  • Keep opponents guessing
shot disguise

Shot Adaptability

  • Execute all shots from both forehand and backhand
  • Adjust the swing plane mid-motion when needed
  • Change grip seamlessly to alter spin or power
  • Effectively counter opponent’s shot speed, spin, height
  • Expand the game by mastering specialty shots

These pickleball skills separate 4.0 players from competent intermediates on their way up. Blending them with technical shot proficiency leads to expert court coverage, deception, and control.


In closing, mastery at the 4.0+ level requires drilling the essential shots and skills until they become muscle memory. Dedicated practice using the techniques covered will give you the confidence, control, and weapons to conquer the court against high-level competition. Remember to construct strategic points, stay adaptable, and have fun!

strategies for 4.0+ skill level


What are the most important shots to develop first as a beginner trying to get to the 4.0 skill level?

As a beginner, focus first on honing your third shot drop, volleys, an overhead smash, and serve. These are the core shots that set the foundation for high-level play.

Is fancy equipment like composite paddles necessary for advancing past 4.0?

While equipment plays a role, skill development is far more critical early on. Master shots with a quality wooden paddle first before investing in composites.

How often should I practice to refine and accelerate my technique improvement?

At least three quality weekly sessions focused on technique are ideal to ingrain muscle memory. Daily repetition drilling of essential shots using video feedback will help you improve efficiently.

What are common flaws hindering players stuck at 3.5 from advancing?

Insufficient control of spin and placement, inconsistent serve execution, lack of shot variety, and inferior positioning/footwork are typical barriers. Addressing these strategically is instrumental.

How vital is expert coaching for successfully progressing beyond intermediate play?

While self-driven practice is vital, quality coaching provides an objective eye to correct flaws you may not spot yourself. Most 4.0+ players work regularly with experienced coaches.

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