How to Do a Pickleball Groundstroke: A Beginner’s Guide

Est. Reading: 3 minutes

Unlike in tennis, pickleball players seldom use groundstrokes. But it doesn’t mean this stroke is less important than the others. As a beginner, learning to hit a groundstroke is a huge step in learning different shots and can help you win the rally.

A groundstroke is one of the three strokes in pickleball. The other two are the dink and the volley, which is done before the ball bounces. This comprehensive guide will teach you everything you should likely know about groundstrokes.

What is a Pickleball Groundstroke?

In pickleball, a groundstroke is letting the ball bounce before hitting it. This stroke is usually used when returning a serve. But unlike dinking, which is done near the kitchen line, a groundstroke is very powerful.

Most players use it when they are near or from the baseline. There are two types of groundstrokes - forehand and backhand. We will talk more about them in the latter part of this guide.

Basic Tips on How to Hit a Groundstroke in Pickleball

Hitting a groundstroke in pickleball may not be as common as volleying and dinking, but it can also be a winning strategy. So, being new to the sport, you should start learning how to do it correctly. Below are some practical but effective tips:

Be in a Ready Position

When hitting a groundstroke, the ready position is similar to the other shots, except you should move back a little behind the baseline. Otherwise, you must retreat if the ball bounces near the baseline. With this motion, you also move your weight away from the ball's direction. Also, keep your paddle up and in front of your body. Then, bend your knees a little in an athletic stance and prepare to move forward.

Do a Split Step

Split stepping is a slight hop you can do by landing on the balls of your feet. Slightly bend your knees with your feet shoulder-width apart. Doing a split step as your opponent hits the ball allows you to react faster to hit a groundstroke. Just make sure you have a space to move forward. In fact, this footwork technique applies to any kind of return shot because you can quickly move in any direction when necessary.

Make a Short Swing

The pickleball ball is light, so you only need a short swing. To do this, don’t start your paddle from far behind. To help you avoid doing an overswing, keep your paddle face open once it hits the ball. To help transfer your weight forward, you must also lift your dominant foot off the ground. More importantly, step your non-dominant forward before hitting the ball. If you do both simultaneously, you may end up in an awkward position. 

Hit the Ball Early

Since a groundstroke is done after the ball bounces, you can hit it as it ascends, at its apex, or descends. If you hit the ball while it’s going down, you need to be lower and hit it upward. In doing so, the ball will pop up and be an easy return for your opponent. Therefore, the best way to reduce the risk is to hit the ball as it goes up. If the ball is too fast, you can also hit it at its apex. The goal is to hit the ball low.

Forehand vs Backhand Groundstroke: Which Is More Effective?

The main difference between a forehand and a backhand groundstroke is the spot of the paddle that hits the ball. With a forehand groundstroke, the dominant side of your paddle is hitting the ball. You use the opposite side of your paddle when using a backhand. This technique seems unnatural but is more common in groundstrokes. 

A backhand groundstroke is less powerful than a forehand, but many players prefer using it. Note that pickleball courts are small, and you do a groundstroke after the ball bounces. So, if the ball approaches you slowly, a forehand can be effective. But if the ball comes so fast, doing a backhand groundstroke seems to be a better option.

If you want to hit a more solid backhand groundstroke, you can try holding the paddle with two hands to add power and control. A two-hand groundstroke may not be ideal for beginners, but practicing it as early as possible will help improve your game. But at the end of the day, you should know whether you should use a forehand or a backhand.

Final Thoughts

A perfect groundstroke involves correct body movement, arm work, and footwork, and finding the right timing. As you practice often, you can also try adding some topspin. But for now, go to your nearest pickleball court and practice with a partner. The easiest drill is to let your partner serve the ball and return it using groundstroke, back and forth.

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