Pickleball is a beautiful symphony of power and finesse. In this article we discuss power. More specifically how to hit a pickleball harder. This is more of an intermediate pickleball tip since you need to have basic technique dialed in.
If you only play slow and safe without knowing how to bring the power and speed, you may only reach a certain level and you will be missing out on some major fun along the way!
Hitting the ball hard is one of the great joys in pickleball, but the court is quite small and you definitely risk sailing it out of bounds if you are not careful. So how exactly do you manage to use force appropriately? Well…
Grip the Paddle Correctly
As you progress along the journey you can experiment with grip positions and even change throughout the course of a point.
But for now, most high level players agree that a standard continental grip will help you generate the most power and top spin (we’ll touch on this more in a second).
A continental grip is often thought of as a handshake. Place the paddle right in the middle of your clasped hand so that your thumb and forefinger make a V shape. As you look down at your paddle the side of it should sit directly in the center of the V.
You can hit the ball at the speed of sound, but if you don’t have good top spin technique, players will be stepping out of the way and you will be losing points watching your ball fly against the back fence.
If you have played tennis or ping pong in the past there is a good chance you already have an understanding of top spin.
The great news is that, it may take a little bit to understand how it translates, but keep at it and pretty quickly, it will click and you will be dipping pickleballs just over the net.
If you haven’t ever used topspin, you will have to learn. There are many drills that can help you, including ones outlined on this website.
The basic concept is to hit the ball from low to high in an upward “brushing” motion. This action makes the ball spin forwards and want to sink down and stay down.
Top spin is great for dinks and third-shot drops in pickleball, but if you want to learn how to hit the ball harder, this skill will help you get where you want to go quickly.
Get Your Stance Right
When lining up for a forehand or backhand drive it is important to anticipate where the ball will bounce, get to the right spot on the court, and most importantly ready your body for the upcoming shot.
To optimize power close your stance by staying parallel to the net. Keep your feet about shoulder width apart, with a slight bend in the knees.
Power generation begins in the legs/core, so allow for a slight dip as you begin your swinging motion. Turn your hips as you bring your paddle forward, make contact out in front of you, hit through the ball, and let that puppy fly!
Find the Right Paddle For Power/Pop
Not all paddles are created equal, and the fanciest paddles aren’t always the most powerful. A lot of the high level players and pros have the technique to generate plenty of power so they use plush paddles that are 16mm thick or even thicker.
These are great for them, and maybe for you as well, but if you are looking for more power, try out something thinner.
You can demo a 13 or 14mm paddle or borrow one from a friend. You may be pleasantly surprised at how quickly you can hit harder.
Adding lead tape to the edges of your pickleball paddle can be a wonderful tool for increasing the sweet spot on a paddle and stability, and, you guessed it, for helping you hit harder!
You customize your paddle to be as heavy as you like. So pick up a roll and start experimenting.
Know When to Hit The Pickleball Harder
Okay, so I’ve given you the skills you need to become an absolute banger on the pickleball court, but what kind of sensei would I be if I didn’t guide you on when to use your power?
Here’s some common situations that call for strong shots in pickleball:
You are playing singles.
Sure, mix in some drops and some cat and mouse, but use that power to pass, to serve, to return. It will help you big time.
You are playing in high wind.
Wind can be tricky to navigate. Sometimes mixing in drives is a great idea as opposed to leaving drops high that are usually ineffective.
Your opponents can’t handle the speed.
If they can’t take the heat blast ’em in the kitchen. If you hit a couple drives that one or both players fumble or mis-hit, make note of it and fire away (assuming you are playing competitively. In a casual/rec game, use your discernment).
You receive a short return
These can be great to pounce on and can set you and your partner up in the driver’s seat to win a quick point. Just be sure to use your top spin.
Hitting the ball hard is a wonderful part of pickleball and an important tool in the belt of a competent player’s game. Regardless of your background or athleticism with some practice and commitment, you can learn how to add well timed and effective pace to your game. Happy pickling.