How to Hit a Cut Shot in Pickleball


Pickleball is like a blend of tennis and racquetball. So, if you have a background in either, you might find that some techniques overlap. One technique you might have seen in tennis is the cut shot, also known as the slice shot. But if you have never played tennis, this technique might be unfamiliar to you. Read on to find out how to hit a cut shot in pickleball and when it is necessary.

But First, What is a Cut Shot?

A cut shot is a technique in which your paddle goes from high to low, cutting the ball to go on a backspin. Truth be told, this technique looks complicated from a novice’s point of view. But with practice, you will find it pretty easy.

The Best Way to Hit a Cut Shot in Pickleball

To get the best cut shot in pickleball, your focus should be on proper form and implementation rather than strength. You might send the ball out of bounds if you hit too hard without proper form. However, a swift hit will keep the ball low after the bounce, so the chances of the ball going out of bounds are significantly slimmer.

Nevertheless, don’t be too hard on yourself. At first, you might not be able to stop yourself from hitting too hard. Once you have mastered the cut shot, you can now focus on learning how to hit the ball lower. The lower you hit, the better your control over the ball’s floating tendency after a cut shot.

Why Learn How to Hit a Cut Shot in Pickleball?

The biggest advantage of mastering the cut shot technique is that it gives a significant lift on return – the ball doesn’t bounce too high. You would be surprised to discover that this is something even more experienced pickleball players struggle with.

Besides, a cut shot return stays in the air longer than a ball hit with any other technique. The longer the ball suspends in the air, the more likely it is to go deep in the court. That gives you an advantage against your opponents since they will be near the baseline.

Is There a Downside?

While the cut shot is an incredibly powerful technique, it has a downside. The fact that the ball stays in the air longer can make you vulnerable. Consequently, you are forced to get defensive. The best way to prevent vulnerability while using the cut shot technique is by hitting the ball low over the net.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some of the commonly asked questions concerning cut shots in pickleball.

What is the most important shot in a pickleball game?

The single most important shot to master in pickleball apart from the cut shot is the third shot drop. Most players lose points on the third shot. The main reason is that the opponents are in the kitchen while you and your partner are still pinned near the baseline.

A third shot drop is a soft shot that arcs upwards before landing in the kitchen. Since it has a soft landing, your opponent will have to dink the ball. But if your shot is inaccurate, your opponent can drive the ball, making you lose a point. But if you do it correctly, you can neutralize your opponent’s advantage.

Can I hit the ball at my opponent?

Pickleball is a very competitive game – any player will do anything legitimate to win. So you might wonder, “is hitting my opponent legal?” Surprisingly, it’s legitimate to aim at your opponent during a pickleball game. Undoubtedly, they will be thrown off their game for a few seconds – those few seconds could make all the difference. Don’t feel guilty. A pickleball doesn’t hurt that much, anyway. Plus, you might get a few hits yourself.

However, when aiming at your opponent, you must keep a few things in mind. To begin with, you need to ensure that you are in control of where the shot is going. Ensure that the shot is below the neckline. You also have to note that this strategy is not meant to be a vengeance tool. You can’t simply hit your opponent because you are angry at them. Finally, always say sorry to your opponent after hitting them, even if you did it on purpose.

Should I try the fade strategy in pickleball?

Since pickleball is still in its formative years, new strategies and techniques have been introduced. One of the new strategies you might hear of in pickleball is the fade strategy. This advanced strategy refers to a scenario in doubles when one partner slides towards the sideline and commits to either the forehand or backhand side. It happens at the kitchen line. The act of committing to one side is referred to as fading.

Once the partner slides, they can hit the ball with the committed side or let it go out of bounds. The other partner is responsible for covering the court space created by the fading partner.

The fade strategy will come in handy if you notice that your opponents are targeting the participant on the right-hand side of the court (assuming both of you are right-handed). If you implement the fade strategy in such a situation, you will take the pressure off the targeted player. The opponents will also be forced to come up with another strategy.

Who serves first in pickleball?

At the start of the pickleball game, a player from each side will play rock, paper, and scissors. Whoever wins will decide whether they want to serve or receive. The serving player should always keep one foot behind the back line when serving. They must also serve underhand and hit the ball in the air. They cannot bounce the ball and then serve it. Besides, the player is only allowed one serve unless the pickleball touches the net on the serve and lands in the service court.

What are the Most Common Pickleball Faults Everyone Should Know?

Part of learning the game is understanding the mistakes to avoid. Some faults can lead to the loss of a point or a serve. In pickleball, the most common mistakes include:

  • Hitting the ball into the net
  • Hitting the ball out of bounds
  • Breaching the two-bounce rule
  • A ball striking a permanent object
  • Stepping into the non-volley zone
  • Hitting the pickleball before it passes the plane of the net
  • Committing a double hit

There are more faults, but these are the most common ones. Notably, any player or referee can call a fault. You can even call fault on yourself if you know you have made a mistake. In a tournament, the line judge or referee has priority when it comes to calling fault.

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