Even as a beginner, you should try to get to the kitchen line after hitting a serve return or third shot if you are the serving team. This is because most points in Pickleball are won by the team that controls the net. Many times beginning Pickleball players stay at the baseline. However, making the effort to move up toward the kitchen line will improve your game significantly.
So, the question then is how to do this most effectively. In watching the pro players they sprint to the non-volley zone line on each point and are set to hit the ball. Unfortunately, we don’t all have the speed to do this. If you try to do this but are off balance by the time you need to hit the next shot then you need to change your strategy. Here’ a couple examples of players being off balance and hitting the ball on the run. Please stay away from this.
I’m going to slow this next point down to half speed. These are high-level women’s players. And you’ll see even the serving team here does not make it all the way up to the kitchen line after the third shot. So, here we have the server and they’ll hit a pretty good serve deep in the court. But what will happen here is that the return team hits a ball that confuses the serving team. So, right here you will see they are not sure who is going to the get the ball. This forces them to stay deep in the court. The next shot is hit in that transition area. So, even at high levels of play, it can happen that you don’t make it all of the way to the kitchen line. You just really need to make sure you are set to hit that shot in the transition area.
Some people think of the area where we transition to the net as no man’s land. This is a term well known among tennis players and not a place you want to be in tennis. Pickleball, however is different. It’s okay to stop in the transition area and hit a ball or even numerous balls. You really don’t need to rush to the kitchen line and hit a shot when you are still moving. It’s better to slowly move through the transition area, making sure your paddle is up and you are set to hit. Then you hit a soft shot to your opponent that should bounce deep in the kitchen or near the non-volley zone line.
I have one more tip that will help you get to the kitchen line without rushing. Try hitting the ball higher over the net and deep in the court. By hitting the ball in this manner, it gives you more time to move up because the ball is in the air longer. Again, you don’t need to rush and you can hit the ball from the transition zone. The most important thing is to make sure you are not moving when hitting the next ball.