Pickleball Unforced Errors | How to Avoid them?

Pickleball unforced errors are those inescapable mirrors from which neither beginners nor experts can get themselves saved. Upon analyzing the last 3 tournaments I have been a part of, 80% of the time the teams who won are the ones with fewer unforced errors. The team making more errors is definitely not gonna win. Well, if that is enough to evaluate their influence in the game, I have come across aspects where these unforced errors, directly and indirectly, affect your stability in the game. 

Hence, avoiding unforced errors is a key to winning pickleball games. However, the first step is to identify what exactly these unforced errors are, how a person falls to make one, and how these errors affect your game. So, let’s begin! 

What are Pickleball Unforced Errors:

Pickleball unforced errors are those faults made on the easy and playable shots that give points to your opponents without them earning that. It includes hitting the ball out of the bounds or in the nets when either you are serving or returning the serve.

ball out of the bounds
Ball out of the bounds

Though, unforced errors are different from faults. Faults are the ones having a comprehensive application through which they occur. Unforced errors usually are related to when you serve or when you return the serve. 

Even in serving and returning, not all the mistakes are unforced errors. They only include those that can be “easily” handled by the player but he didn’t. The most perfect example of unforced errors are;

  • Hitting the ball out of the bounds.
  • Hitting it into the nets. 

For example, in a 1o1 playing field, one player starts serving, and the other one returns it with a dink, and now the server wants to start volleying but hits the ball so high that it goes out of bounds. Results? Unforced errors. Why? The return was fair and simple and he can’t blame the fault on it, he could make it an easy shot instead he committed an error in such a non-pressure situation on an easy shot.

Hitting it into the nets
Hitting it into the nets

These are the most frustrating errors to be made on the court since it gives free points to the opponents without them doing anything. Though, it doesn’t end here. The unforced errors have a huge impact on the entire game you continue after that. Let’s examine what it does to the minds of players. 

The Psychological Aspect of Pickleball Unforced Errors:

Let’s be frank, the unforced errors in pickleball are the silly mistakes players make. However, the case of unforced errors is very strange. Let me give you an example by citing this statement I extracted from the conversion I recently had with my colleague who is currently a 4.0 player with several games won in his name.  

“I had a few warm-up sessions before the game and I kept making excellent returns. Even though my shots made my opponent commit the fault and got to make a score. However, I hit the ball out of bounds and lost my point to the opponents. As I couldn’t make it to score again, I lost the game. Although I had a good position from the start and I can’t believe I lost that one”. 

What do you think could be the outcome of it? Did he lose the game because he wasn’t given the serve to start the game? Was he making the right combinations of shots? Can the reason be mismanagement of pace? 

Well, the reason is the “out of the bounds error”. I know that sounds strange, but hear me out. 

That player has a good playing profile and with the practice that he had in his hand, he couldn’t think of making any errors, let alone throwing the ball outside the bounds. When he did make one, he started criticizing himself, questioning his ability. Though he might not do that on purpose, the situation automatically takes him there to do so. 

Results of self-criticizing:

Criticize your mistakes in Pickleball
Criticize your mistakes in Pickleball

If you think criticizing yourself for the errors you did will get you to perform better, then sorry to say, but you seriously need help. The reason is, that your mind responds to criticism negatively. When you hear criticism, it drains your energy no matter how immensely positive a person you are. While that criticism comes from your own self, your brain can’t handle that, and you’ll lose your stance despite trying harder. 

Most of the players, I know, do this. First, they can’t accept what they did (even though anyone can make any mistake) and get panicked instantly. It won’t be surprising if you lose your stance afterward when seeing the situation psychologically. 

Even if the players did accept their mistakes, they start to beat themselves up with self-criticism which never works in their favor. Hence, a minor silly mistake can do this damage to your brain which then affects your entire gaming techniques and risks your skills too. 

What Happens when Players Commit Unforced Errors:

To answer, what happens when players commit unforced errors, I have a four-word sad story “you lose a point”, simple! Double the length and you’ll get a sadder one “the lost point is given to the opponents”. Well, I know that is annoying beyond the word annoying could even make meanings. 

pickleball loose grip
Pickleball loose grip

However, there’s a misconception that surprised me during the research. “Unforced errors end the rally” no it actually doesn’t. Sometimes, the play continues and other times, the player with more points wins the game. 

Additionally, it is a blessing for the other team/players since they get a free point. Most of the time, the team scores by the unforced errors made by opponents. It also supports why unforced errors accelerate the win for the other team because 

  • On one hand, you are losing points. 
  • On the other hand, the other team is getting points effortlessly. 
  • Your opponent also continued to score due to possession of serve. 

Hence, no chance of you winning! 

Ways to Eliminate Pickleball Unforced Errors:

Until now, you must be horrified by the unforced errors of pickleball. But guess what? Everything has a solution, you just need a right hand to guide you and yes, you are most welcome! 

The first thing to work on is your positions and strategies. I have written an article on pickleball paddle positioning strategies too in which I have covered the game-changing paddle positions that’ll be your hack to combat these errors. 

Be confident. Remember confidence is your number 1 tool to make your play exceptional. It means you maintain your stance and keep up with your stability. You can try adding variations but if the game gets aggressive, stick on those shots you are most pro in. Sometimes, the error happens when you are trying to make things unpredictable with an extra effort and end up making the easy one worse for yourself.

Never criticize yourself for the errors whether it is forced or unforced. Even if you make errors, accept and move on. Practice overcoming those errors in your warm-up matches. Treat your mind to do better and better. Only this way you’ll see yourself going miles of success in no time.

Ending Note:

Before anything else, I’m glad you made it here and with that, I’m sure you have got an edge over these little annoying pickleball unforced errors. These are the minor ones such as sending the ball out of the bounds or in the nets yet they have a long-lasting effect on your game. However, with the troubleshooting guide, I have provided you in this article, you can certainly combat them from your game and keep your winning streak alive for ages!

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