Has Your Pickleball Improvement Stalled Out? If So, Try This.

Jan 26, 2023


“If it was easy everyone would do it.”

As I walked off the courts at a recent pro-am tournament, those were the words on the back of the guys shirt in front of me. The quote isn’t new. Motivational speakers tend to use this one often. And you know how it goes. As you hear things again in a different season of life, you consume that information in a new way. And when I saw those words, It got me thinking, the journey to improve at anything is fun.

But also, it’s hard. And the hard part is typically at the moment where your improvement flatlines. 

I alluded to this in last week’s edition. Because here’s the thing. Right now, my improvement feels like it’s flatlining (and I think I know why). More on that in the bottom section of the newsletter. 

Before we keep going, welcome back to another edition of the newsletter. Edition #57 to be exact. 

If you’re new to the newsletter and want to go back and check out past editions, go here!

Today’s edition has three parts: 

1. A Helpful Tip – {Video} Where To Hit Third Shot Drops.

2. An Entertaining Video – New Pickleball Players Get Fooled By Ref In First Tournament. 😂

3. My Journey Playing Pro Pickleball – Technique matters, A LOT.

A Helpful Tip:

If you don’t follow me on Instagram, I’m currently running a educational video series: 

18 advanced pickleball tips to help you move up a level. 

Today is day 6 of the series. Here’s a look at the day 1 video:

Where to drop the ball on your third shot drops!👇

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A post shared by Kyle Koszuta (@thatpickleballguy)

Entertaining Video:  

At a recent tournament, I met two guys, Matt and Collin. 

Matt and Collin had never played a pickleball tournament before. And at instance in one of their matches, that showed up big time. 😂

Truthfully, I can’t do the story justice with just my words here. 

But it’s quite hilarious the exchange they had with their on court referee, Pam!


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A post shared by Kyle Koszuta (@thatpickleballguy)

My Journey Playing Pro Pickleball: 

 Back to what I said at the top. My improvement feels like it’s flatlining. So now what?  

Well, If I may. An admission, then a story. 


One of the weaknesses in my game for a long time has been my return of serve. It’s not horrible, but it’s not great. I’ve been battling it for a while. It’s the only shot in the game I get nervous hitting. 

And at the pro level, it’s the one shot where, in the past — I’ve been exposed. Because against players who have great “driving ability,” you get punished when the ball doesn’t get returned deep into the court. They run up, crush it at you or your partner, immediately putting you on the defensive. 

Between 4.0 - 5.0, this didn’t hurt me that bad. But at the pro level, it’s showing up more. And I need to fix it. Which leads me to...

A Story:

Cut to 6 days ago. 

I was training with my friend Nico. He’s hitting serves. I’m practicing returns. Oo, and Nico is legit. A former high level college tennis player who's quite the pickleball player, and he started giving me technique tips. 

It’s weird, because…

Through all my training, I’ve never diagnosed my footwork or swing mechanics on my return. Or honestly, most of my shots. Ever since I’ve been playing, I just watch youtube and mimic top players. (honestly not a terrible strategy), but I’m realizing, that only gets you so far. 

The reason being, it’s hard to recognize all the nuance of a technique you’ve tried to mimic, but never officially been taught. Pros make everything look smooth and easy. And you forget there’s typically lots of thought and thousands of reps behind those movements. 

And after Nico gave me a few tips, I immediately started hitting better returns. Now, am I way better at returning serve. Of course, I still have a ways to go but I've definitely progressed.

Now, what’s the point of all this? Well, two things. 

  1. Get coaching - if you really want to improve fast, get someone smarter or more experienced than you to look at your game. I’m not saying you have to go out and hire a coach or even take a lesson (although I deeply believe in that). Nico is my friend. He’s had way more training in racket sports than me. He spent 15 minutes giving me tips. That was coaching. And it was so helpful! 
  2. Technique matters - I believe this one right here is why I’ve been flatlining on my improvement. And it could be why you are too (if you’re feeling that). Small adjustments to footwork, body rotation, and contact point can make all the difference (I’m learning). And Nico opened my eyes to a new potential I now see for myself. 

Now, maybe you don’t have a Nico in your life. That’s okay. Here’s a few ideas for you to work on technique. 

  1. Watch pros' footwork, swing path, contact point, and positioning. That's a good place to start.
  2. Go find a coach in your area. Even if they’re not the best coach ever, I guarantee you could take away one new thing from any coaching session you go to! 
  3. Film yourself playing or training. Warning. This one can be painful at times, but my goodness it helps a lot to at least have some awareness of what you're doing on court.

Because at the end of the day, here’s my thing. 

I’m not just here to play pro tournaments, I want to win them. And I’m looking for any way to get the edge. And at this moment, I now realize I need even more intentional time and thought into how my technique impacts my shot making ability. And that's where I'll put a good mount of attention moving forward.  

Until next week,


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