Winning Pickleball Strategies – by Charlie McKnight

For those of you serious pickler’s out there, I thought I would send you a few “winning strategies” to consider. This “top 12” list was put together by Charlie McKnight and I know he would love to chat about them the next time you see him on the court. Thanks for sharing your strategic mind Charlie!


Charlie McKnight

Twelve Ways to WIN More Pickleball Games

  1. SERVE –  Get your serve in (always and deep). (You only score points when you serve, so don’t waste the opportunity build your score. The more points won, more games won and more matches won.)
  2. RETURN – Get your return of serve in & deep. (NEVER hit the ROS into the net or wide. A long shot is the only GOOD error here (because you want a deep return to keep your opponents back and they have to let it bounce). Move to the No Volley Zone line as (or right after) you return serve.)
  3. CONTROL – Hit the ball at a pace for good placement, and give yourself enough leeway for error. (Aim 1-3 feet over the net for shots from the baseline, 6-12 inches for shots from the NVZ and most of your shots to the middle of the court. As your skills and control improve, you can adjust this.)
  4. HOLE –  Hit high percentage shots down the middle of the court that bounces in the hole between your opponents. (Save sharp angle and down the line shots for sure put always from the NVZ.)
  5. LOW –  Keep the ball low to your opponents’ feet, as much as possible. (Low shots will cause more errors, allow fewer winners and set you up with more high shots to put-away.)
  6. NET –   Get to and play from the NVZ line as much as possible. (90% of points are won at the net.)
  7. FIGHT –   Fight to get the ball back ONE more time when your opponents are on the offense. (Good defense wins points that your opponents expect you to lose and can break their concentration, confidence and momentum.)
  8. PATIENT –  Be mentally tough when neither team has the advantage or when you are serving or receiving. Play a safe, well-placed shot to your opponent’s backhand and wait for them to make the mistake or mental error. (Making less unforced errors wins more games than outright winners.)
  9. ATTACK – Be aggressive when you have the chance with a high ball at the NVZ. Hit the ball sharply down the middle at your opponent’s feet and be ready for a weak return. Think of a put away as a 1-2 shot: (1st shot sets up the 2nd shot for less errors and more winners, like a 1-2 punch in boxing.)
  10. + vs. –  Strengths vs. Weaknesses: Play your strengths to your opponents’ weaknesses. (What shots are your opponents winning points with, what shots are they missing or losing points with?)
  11. CONDITIONS –  Be aware of the surrounding conditions that affect the flight and/or the bounce of the ball, your footing, your visibility and your comfort. Adjust your game and equipment as necessary.
  12. CHANGE  – You need to change (vary) the pace, spin and placement of your shots so you don’t become too predictable. However, don’t change the shots or strategies that are winning you points. Do change your strategy when what you are doing is not working. (Hit to weaker opponent, hit ball softer or harder, hit lobs, play to the strongest player, etc. are a few ways to change things up.)






For more info on local pickleball play, go to or

2 thoughts on “Winning Pickleball Strategies – by Charlie McKnight

  1. Great “pointers”, really helpful.

  2. Thanks Charlie!! A good read. Diane

    Sent from my iPad


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s