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Are you a regular pickleballer who’s aiming to bring your DUPR score up a couple of points? Knowing how to play pickleball is one thing, but getting better at it is what allows you to unlock a whole other level of fun — and competition.

To be a well-rounded player, there are a few abilities that are important to master. Here, No. 1-ranked professional pickleball player Ben Johns — who’s also the co-owner and founder of Pickleball 360, an instructional pickleball video subscription service — along with his brother and fellow professional pickleball player, Collin Johns, demonstrate a few key ways to get better at the pickleball skills of serving, dinking, and driving.

(Note: Life Time has partnered with Pickleball 360, which is owned by Ben and Collin Johns, to make pickleball training videos available to Life Time members. Members can access the videos in the Life Time app.)

1. Serve Placement

“I never want to see a short serve,” explains Ben in the video. “There’s really no benefit to it because it’s easy for your opponents to move in rather than to move back. The best serve, if you can consistently get it in, is always a deep serve. When you hit a deep serve, you’re going to get a typically weaker return that you’re more easily able to hit a better next shot on.”

2. Dinking Outside of the Trigger Zone

“The middle part of the kitchen is where a lot of people are taught to hit to early on, because they’re taught that dinking is a good thing,” says Collin. “And at the lower levels, that’s a great concept. But it leaves people wondering how to defend attacks. A lot of people end up giving their opponent a lot of attackable balls. Instead, it’s actually far safer to hit the ball very short or very deep.”

3. Dink Attack

“A dink attack is something where you would normally hit a dink and you choose to attack the ball instead,” shares Ben. “I do want to encourage you to generally attack balls that are above the level of the net and usually out of the air, but it’s also good to have a dink attack as another option so that players don’t always know what’s coming.”

4. Backhand Dinking

(Note: This video is geared toward a 3.5 to 4.0 skill level.)

“At this level, I like to think about applying pressure to our opponents,” says Ben. “The easiest way to do that is to hit lots of volleys out of the air and half-volleys right off the ground. A volley out of the air is going to take away your opponent’s time maximally and minimize the area they can hit the ball in. A half-volley is not as aggressive as a volley, but a half volley right off the ground is really good at neutralizing your opponent’s offensive dinks with some pace or spin.”

5. Driving

“A drive is when you take a ball on your third shot after you’ve served and your opponent returns the ball, and instead of trying to drop it in the kitchen, we hit it with some pace, low to the level of the net to our opponents,” explains Ben. “You’re going to want to stay low, keep your knees bent throughout the stroke, and try to make contact with the ball out in front of your body with the paddle approximately flat.”

Callie Chase
Callie Fredrickson

Callie Fredrickson is a content editor at Life Time.

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