As a lifelong serve and volley tennis player, I mistakenly assumed that playing full–court singles in pickleball would be much easier than playing singles in tennis.
I initially thought that since a pickleball court is a quarter of the size of a tennis court and that the plastic pickleball does not bounce or move as fast as a tennis ball, that covering such a small area of the court would be a piece of cake. However, as I began to venture into full–court pickleball singles, I came to realize that less is more!
I discovered that the lack of space on the court and the lack of speed on the ball made it more challenging for me to put my opponent in a defensive position, and actually gave them a better look at a passing shot as I was approaching the net.
I then happened upon playing skinny singles.
For years, as a coach, I had utilized the concept of skinny singles for “one on one” drills. Now, as a competitor, I have discovered the fun of playing skinny singles as a regular scoring game.
So, what exactly is skinny singles? Basically speaking, you are only allowed to utilize half of the court area and only the server changes position after each point.
Here’s how it works. You begin by serving the first point crosscourt from the right side of the court as you normally would in a regular game. This first point is played half–court, utilizing only the crosscourt area on both sides of the net.
If the server wins the point, the server then serves the next point from the left side of their court. The returner remains on the right side of their court. The server now serves down the line and the point is played half–court utilizing only the down the line area on both sides of the net.
As long as the server is winning (scoring) points, the server is the only player who moves from right to left sides of the court. The returner stays on the side of the court which the previous point was just played on.
If the server loses a point—no score for the returner—and the serve changes players, but neither player moves from right to left. The next point is played from the positions that both players are currently in.
The genius of this scenario is that it creates a situation where points are played from both the right and left half of the court, playing both crosscourt and down the line.
What I like most about playing skinny singles is that due to the fact that I am only able to utilize half of the court and that I am continuously switching from crosscourt to down the line in my utilization of the court, it challenges both my strategical thinking as well as my shot selection/execution skills.
So, give skinny singles a try. It’s competitive, it’s good for your doubles game, it’s a good workout, and most of all, it’s a lot of fun!
Wayne Clark is a professional tennis instructor with over 25 years’ experience coaching players on all levels of the game. Wayne is also qualified in pickleball instruction and is on staff as an instructor with The Pickleball Academy of Southwest Florida at East Naples Community Park. Contact Coach Wayne by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone or text at 239-450-6161.