Unforced errors are one of the biggest reasons why beginner level players lose points.
As a beginner, while you should work on improving the fundamentals of your strokes to help lower the numbers of unforced errors in your game, a quick and effective solution to reducing unforced errors and winning more points is simple. Just keep the ball in the court!
With all of the various strategies that can be applied when playing a point in either tennis or pickleball, the simple fact is that the last person to hit the ball over the net and inside the lines wins the point! And as crazy as it may sound, the easiest way for your opponents to win a point is to call the ball out.
Here is a drill to help you lower the number of unforced errors in your game and at the same time, make you a more aggressive player.
I call this… The 2 by 2 drill.
Set up a line of cones that are approximately 2 feet inside of the sidelines and the baseline. Your goal is to keep the ball from landing beyond the cones.
With your practice partner, (hitting both down the line and cross-court), try to get a total of 10 in a row without missing. Once you have accomplished the consistency of confidently rallying 10 hits each in a row with your practice partner, make a game of it. Start the point with a serve and rally back and forth, playing out the point until someone hits a winner or hits the ball outside of the cone zone. Keep the rally’s and the game on half of the court, either cross-court or down the line, (aka skinny singles).
Remember, in this drill, even if a ball lands inside one of the sidelines or the baseline (if it is beyond the cones), it is considered out!
Your objective in this drill is twofold; you want to utilize high percentage shots and attempt to force your opponent to make an error.
If a player hits a winner or loses the point due to being forced to miss, 1 point is scored. If a player hits a ball out of the cone zone, all on their own, (aka an unforced error), 2 points are scored by their opponent.
Just for fun, if a player wins a point by actually hitting a cone, they get a bonus point added to their score.
You can play games up to 11,15 or 21 points.
Lowing the percentages of your unforced errors will help you to gain confidence in your shots and win more points!