By: Tony Roig | May 7, 2021 |

Caution – Bad Pickleball Advice Ahead

Most of us started our pickleball journey learning from the pickleball enthusiasts who preceded us. The sport was passed down to us from the court elders or the group’s pickleball experts who shared their nuggets of wisdom.

“Stand up there when I am returning serve.”

“The first team to serve only gets one serve.”

“After the third shot, get to the kitchen as fast as you can.”

And so on.

In our most recent reader survey, you told us that your top two sources of pickleball improvement information were YouTube and other players at your local courts. 

Some of the wisdom passed down to us by other pickleball players was good advice. In fact, it was necessary so that we could learn the rules of the game.

But some of the advice we received, particularly before we had a better understanding of pickleball, could fall under the category of bad pickleball advice because, in most cases, it proved counterproductive to our improvement.

This is not to say that those who taught us did so with anything but the best of intentions. We are thankful to those who took the time to help us on our journey with this awesome sport that we are now a part of.

One of the things we try to do is set the record straight on some of these “tips” with the hope that we can push them out of the lore of the game. So that when the next new player comes to your facility, you can get them on the path to pickleball improvement without the unnecessary detours we all went down.

Bad Pickleball Advice-Topic #1

Perhaps the most damaging bad advice most of us pickleball newbies received as we started our journey was “rush up to the kitchen” when you are on the serve side. This advice suggests that as soon as you or your partner hits the third shot, you both should rush headlong up to the kitchen line.

The advice is based on the generally correct premise that pickleball is won by being up at the kitchen (non-volley zone) line. While it is true that we want to play rallies from up at the non-volley zone line or NVZ, we first have to get there. And that is where this advice falls short.

There is a concept that is even more fundamental to the game.

And that is the difference between the serve side of pickleball and the return side of pickleball. To frame it out clearly, every time we play pickleball, we are actually playing two different sports. We are playing a serve-side of pickleball, and we are playing a return-side of pickleball. And these two different sides of the game are as different as ice skating and football.

A fallacy that players make – a common one – is to play the same whether they are playing on the serve side of the ball or on the return side. This leads to numerous unnecessary errors as well as ineffective strategies.

That means that “rush up to the kitchen” is great advice if you are playing the return side but awful advice for the serve side.


This applies not only to “rush up to the kitchen” but dozens of different “truths” we hear on the courts. Such as forehand has the middle 😜.

We’re assuming that you are a pickleball player who wants to improve if you’ve read this far. There are so many people doling out “free” advice on the courts, on YouTube, and in places like Facebook. Don’t you owe it to yourself to make sure you have a trusted resource who can help you understand the entire picture?

As Paul Harvey used to say:

Now you know…the rest of the story

What Bad Pickleball Advice have you received? Put it in the comments below.

Tony Roig

Hola. Hello. Konichiwa. After 40 years playing tennis, I am now a full-time pickleball player and professional. As a 5.0 rated Senior Pro Pickleball Player and an IPTPA-certified Master Teaching Professional, my focus is on helping players like you learn to play their best pickleball. In 2016, shortly after starting to play pickleball, my friend Tom and I jumped into the highest division at the first US Open in Naples, Florida. That morning it became clear just how much there is to learn in this seemingly simple sport – a lifetime of learning if you so choose. Since 2018, I have been on a mission to share my knowledge of pickleball so other players can enjoy the game at a higher level and attain their pickleball objectives. When not studying or playing pickleball, I like to travel with my other half, Jill.