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Camp Creek Inn guests enjoying a doubles pickleball game

Tips from the Pros: Pickleball

By Todd Ponder

Pickleball is quickly gaining popularity around the globe, thanks to its unique blend of strategy, camaraderie and accessibility. As with other sports, an understanding of fundamentals will be essential to your success on the court — from the nuanced art of dinking to overall gameplay dynamics.

Pickleball combines elements from tennis, badminton and ping pong. The game is played by two or four players, each outfitted with a solid paddle and a perforated plastic ball. The court dimensions are smaller than those of tennis, creating a fast-paced and dynamic environment that appeals to players of all ages and skill levels.

The Symphony Of Dinking

At the heart of pickleball lies the art of dinking — a subtle yet strategic shot that has become a defining feature of the game. Dinking involves delicately tapping the ball over the net, creating a low and controlled shot. Try to keep the ball close to the net, making it challenging for opponents to respond with a powerful return. This skill is crucial during play within the non-volley zone, or “kitchen,” where volleys are restricted. To master the dink, you must hone your touch, accuracy and court positioning, adding a layer of finesse to your game.

Two ladies raise their paddles and pose for a photo on the Camp Creek pickleball courts

General Gameplay Dynamics

The overall gameplay in pickleball is characterized by lively rallies, swift volleys and strategic positioning. The game begins with an underhand serve, ensuring the ball clears the 7-foot non-volley zone on both sides of the net. The unique double-bounce rule requires the ball to bounce once on each side before volleys are allowed, adding an element of anticipation and strategy to each exchange. Players alternate serving until a point is scored, fostering an engaging back-and-forth dynamic.

Navigating the Non-Volley Zone and Kitchen Rules

Strategic court positioning is paramount in pickleball, particularly within the kitchen. Because volleying is prohibited within this zone, you rely on thoughtful shot placement and dinking finesse. To improve your game, you’ll need to master the delicate balance between aggressive play and careful shot selection.

A group of Watersound Club Members volley on the pickleball court at the Camp Creek amenities.

Inclusivity And Versatility

One of pickleball’s standout features is inclusivity. There’s room for varying playing styles, whether you’re a seasoned athlete or a beginner looking for a new challenge. My main tip is to not be afraid to get started or get more involved! Pickleball’s fundamental principles create an environment where players can enjoy the thrill of the game while refining their skills. Remember, the game is not just about scoring but about mastering the symphony of dinking, strategic positioning and fostering a sense of community.


So, let the rallies begin, and may your pickleball journey be filled with the joy of play and the spirit of friendly competition!


Todd Ponder, Watersound Club pickleball pro

Watersound Club pickleball pro Todd Ponder enjoys introducing newcomers to the game, honing skills and strategy with experienced players, and most of all, growing the local pickleball community. Ready to get started? Todd leads “Learn to Play Pickleball” classes several times a week. Instruction includes proper mechanics, rules, scoring and strategy. At the Camp Creek pickleball courts, open play is available daily from 8–11 a.m. and from 6–9 p.m. Courts can be reserved after 11 a.m. for one to two hours at a time. Clinic and class schedules can be viewed at tennis-and-pickleball-clinics.