Pickleball Singles Strategy: Tips for Success in One-on-One Play

If you’re a fan of pickleball, you’ll know that the game can be played in both singles and doubles formats. Although doubles is more common, singles play also offers a great way to hone your skills and test yourself against a single opponent. Pickleball singles strategy requires a different approach to doubles play, and it can be challenging to get the hang of it at first. However, with the right tactics and mindset, you can excel at one-on-one play and take your game to the next level. In this blog post, we’ll guide you through some essential pickleball singles strategy

Pickleball Singles Strategy: Tips for Success in One-on-One Play

Pickleball singles play offers a fantastic opportunity to work on your individual skills and test yourself against a single opponent. However, it requires a different approach than doubles play. In this post, you will discover the essential tips to help improve your game, such as proper footwork, shot selection, and playing aggressively. By following these strategies, you can take your pickleball singles game to the next level and enjoy an even more exciting and rewarding experience on the court.

Pickleball Singles Strategy: Tips for Success in One-on-One Play

Pickleball singles play is a great way to sharpen your skills, become a better all-around player, and enjoy the thrill of going head-to-head with a single opponent. However, since singles strategy differs from doubles strategy, you need to understand the core tactics and techniques required to succeed on the court. In this post, we’ll explore the essential tips and tricks you need to know to win at singles play in pickleball.

Footwork and Positioning

Effective footwork and positioning are essential parts of any successful pickleball strategy, and this holds true for both singles and doubles. In singles play, your movement and position on the court are even more critical since there are no partners to cover a particular area. Here are some tips you should consider:

Stay in the Middle of the Court

Try to keep yourself positioned in the center of the court to avoid giving any significant openings for your opponent. This allows you to quickly react and respond to shots in any direction. Your opponent may try to move you around the court, but by staying in the middle, you’re less likely to be caught off guard.

Move with Your Opponent’s Shot

Anticipate your opponent’s shot direction and be prepared to move your feet to respond quickly. Determine whether the shot will land on the forehand or backhand side and adjust accordingly.

Watch Your Footwork

Pickleball involves many quick changes of direction that can quickly tire you out if you aren’t mindful of your footwork. When playing singles, you must pay attention to your feet’ positioning to ensure that you can move quickly across the court and hit the ball accurately. Keep your feet apart and avoid crossing them while moving.

Shot Selection

When playing singles, shot selection is crucial since you don’t have a partner to rely on or cover a particular area. Shot selection is one of the most important pickleball strategies, and it can make a significant difference in your game. Here are some tips:

Vary Your Shots

Switch up your shots during the game to keep your opponent off balance. Employ a mix of dinks (soft shots played close to the net), lobs (high and deep shots), and drives (fast and low shots). This keeps your opponent guessing, and you can then capitalize on their unforced errors.

Master Your Serves

Your serve is your opportunity to control the game from the outset, so it’s vital to master it. Find a serving strategy that works best for you, whether it’s a soft or hard serve, a low or high one. You can also try mixing up your serves to keep your opponent guessing, such as adding spin or playing a different kind of serve each time.

Playing Aggressively

To succeed in singles play, you have to be aggressive and take the lead. Aggressive play involves exerting pressure on your opponent to force them to make unforced errors. Here are some tips to help you make the most out of your aggressive play:

Be Confident

Confidence is essential when playing singles pickleball. Believe in your skills and abilities, and take every opportunity to show off your strengths. This will intimidate your opponent and put them on the back foot.

Avoid Unforced Errors

One of the biggest mistakes you can make in singles play is making unforced errors. These mistakes can give your opponent an opening to take control of the game, so avoid them at all costs! Stick to high-percentage shots, and play it safe when necessary to keep control of the game.

Put Pressure on Your Opponent

Putting pressure on your opponent is another way to take the lead and control the game. Make aggressive shots, move quickly and efficiently across the court, and challenge every point. Even if you don’t win every point, putting pressure on your opponent will improve your chances of winning the match.


Playing singles pickleball is a challenging yet rewarding experience that can help you take your game to the next level. By mastering footwork and positioning, shot selection, and aggressive play, you can enjoy the thrill of competing against a single opponent and win more games. Remember to be confident, stay focused, and have fun on the court!

The Importance of Mental Toughness in Singles Play

Playing pickleball requires not only physical skills but also mental toughness to handle the pressure of competing against a single player. In singles play, the focus is entirely on you, so it’s crucial to develop a strong mental game. Here are some tips that can help:

Stay Focused and Positive

It’s easy to get distracted and lose focus when playing singles, especially when your opponent is giving you a tough time. However, by staying focused and reminding yourself of your game’s strengths, you can overcome these challenges effectively. Keep a positive attitude and avoid getting discouraged when things don’t go your way.

Manage Your Emotions

Every player feels emotional ups and downs when playing singles, but the difference between the winning and losing mentality lies in how they manage these feelings. Instead of letting your emotions control your game, try to remain level-headed and adjust your mindset to focus on the next point.

Visualize Your Shots

Visualization is an effective technique that many professional athletes use to improve their performance on the court. Before each serve or shot, visualize yourself executing the perfect shot. This helps you maintain focus and stay positive and can make a significant difference in your game.

Physical Conditioning for Singles Play

Playing singles pickleball can be physically demanding, so it’s essential to make sure your body is well-conditioned to handle the pressure. Here are some tips to help condition your body:

Cardiovascular and Endurance Training

Pickleball requires a lot of running and quick movements across the court, which can be physically challenging, especially during long and intense matches. To condition your body, focus on cardiovascular and endurance training through activities like running, cycling, and swimming.

Strength and Core Training

Strength and core training are essential to handle the rigor of singles play. Your body must be strong enough to hit powerful shots, move quickly, and maintain balance throughout the match. Focus on exercises like squats, lunges, push-ups, and planks to build your strength and core muscles.

Final Thoughts

Pickleball singles strategy may be different from doubles, but it offers a unique and exciting challenge that can help you become a well-rounded player. By focusing on footwork and positioning, shot selection, and aggressive play, along with developing a strong mental game and physical conditioning, you can dominate the singles court and improve your overall game. So, get out there, practice, improve and have fun!

FAQs About Pickleball Singles Strategy: Tips for Success in One-on-One Play

Playing pickleball in singles format presents many challenges and opportunities, and it’s natural to have questions about how to improve your game. Here are some frequently asked questions related to pickleball singles strategy:

1. Is it easier to play singles or doubles pickleball?

There is no definitive answer to this question, as it depends on your personal preference and skill level. Some players find singles play more challenging since you’re on your own and must cover the whole court, while others prefer it since it allows them to shine more as an individual player. It is suggested to try both and decide which format suits best for you.

2. What are the primary differences between singles and doubles pickleball?

The main differences between singles and doubles pickleball are the number of players on the court and the strategies required to win. Singles requires more individual skill, quick movements, and shot precision since you need to cover the whole court. Meanwhile, doubles play emphasizes teamwork, strategy, and communication, as partners work together to cover their areas of the court.

3. Do I need to change my serving strategy when playing singles pickleball?

Yes, you will likely need to adjust your serving strategy when playing singles pickleball. In singles play, you’re serving to one person, so you have the option of being more aggressive or using more spin to catch your opponent off guard. Practice different types of serves and find the one that works best for you in singles play.

4. What’s the ideal distance to stand from the opponent’s serve in pickleball singles?

There’s no perfect distance, but it’s best to start in the middle of the court and then adjust accordingly. The ideal distance is where you can reach all corners of the court quickly while maintaining balance and flexibility. Be aware of your opponent’s shot strengths and weaknesses and adjust your position accordingly.

5. How can I improve my footwork when playing singles pickleball?

Practicing your footwork through drills is the most efficient way to improve. Focus on quick flips and step drills to improve your footwork and speed around the court. Work with your coach or partner to develop drills that target the particular areas of your game that need improvement.

6. What’s the best way to return a serve in singles pickleball?

The best way to return a serve in singles pickleball is to anticipate where the ball will go and prepare for a quick response. Get to the ball early, and try to take it on the rise or as soon as it bounces. This minimizes your opponent’s chances of setting up for a powerful shot attacking your weaknesses.

7. Is it okay to mix up shots in singles play?

Yes, mixing up your shots is essential in singles play. This keeps your opponent guessing, forces them out of rhythm, and increases the chances of them making unforced errors. Experiment with dinks, lobs, and drives to keep your opponent on their toes and boost your chance of winning.

8. Do I need to be in great physical shape to play pickleball in singles format?

Playing pickleball in singles format requires good physical fitness since it’s more demanding. Cardio, strength training, and core training exercises are essential to keep you fit, increase your stamina, and prevent injuries. However, when you start, you can adapt your fitness plan to your current level and progressively increase the intensity of your exercises as your fitness improves.

9. How can I improve my mental game when playing singles pickle