Pickleball 5.0: A Journey from 2.0 to 5.0 by Phil Dunmeyer(Takeaways and Review)


Practice your serve as much as your other shots. 

Develop a variety of serves. 

The closer the serve is to  a lob the more difficult it is for your opponents to attack to serve.

Consider, keeping a very effective serve for a critical point in the game or time.

A medium high bouncing serve to your opponent’s backhand is always a challenge. Don’t hit serve too high, however, because it will give him/her time to run around the backhand, and hit a more comfortable forehand.

A player who steps onto the court from behind the baseline when his or her partner is serving, is in a seriously negative position, even if assuming a perfect stance.

Prior to serve, communicate with partner who has the middle on return.

Service Returns:

Hitting the return of serve with appropriate pace and deep enough giving you time to join your partner at your kitchen line is offensive in nature, but it puts you and your partner in the best defensive position on the court

For the intermediate to advanced players, the skill of “hitting the ball on the rise“ provides the following benefits: 

  • Returns the ball back to opponents faster, resulting in them having less time to prepare and hit the ball. 
  • Limits retreating, and moving backwards’ unforced errors. By stepping in, and hitting the ball early, you keep more angles to hit the ball into. If you back up, you lose some angles of return.

Two Handed Backhands:

If you don’t already have a two handed backhand, I recommend you use the time perfecting your one-handed backhand. The two handed backhand has much more potential use in singles.

The non-volley zone/kitchen stance

Feet wider than the shoulders. Knees bent and back straight. Center of getting gravity through the back and rear straight to the ground behind you.


The whole idea behind the dink is to “strike” the ball, so it drops into the opponents NVZ area. You do not hit it over the net! You push it over the net.

Players who hit their dinks, usually take a backswing of 2 inches or more, and this places far too much power into the ball when you were only trying to hit the ball 5 to 8 inches. There is no wrist movement in the dink shot. Your wrist is locked as you push the paddle forward.

Avoid hitting your dinks straight at the opponent in front of you. Instead, make him or her move laterally, keeping in mind most people have a weaker backhand dink than a forehand dink.

Avoid hitting the same dink in the same spot repeatedly. Aggressive opponents are trying to stay “in the mental zone“ and look for the right shot to attack. By changing the location of your dinks, especially to the same opponent, you minimize his or her ability to zero in on a attackable return.

Check your spacing and make sure you and your partner are staying linked together on every dink. Your opponents may be exploiting the gap/space between you and your partner because you are not staying “one step, and a reach” between you.

Hitting it back to the opponent that hit it to you is the safest way to hit it. Adding different spins to the ball, make it more difficult to hit the ball “squarely“ and straight.


The faster the ball is traveling towards you, the shorter the back swing. The slower the ball coming towards you the longer/greater the back swing.

Volleying while you are moving, is not productive, or a good idea. The closer you are to the net, the less the backswing.

Pickleball checklist for volley errors

  • moving while hitting the volleys; 
  • not anticipating volley hit to you; 
  • paddle face position errors; 
  • not using compact swing; 
  • getting jammed on volleys; 
  • not bending at the knees; 
  • overreaching for volleys;


Lobs can be a “rainbow” in your game, but they usually result in a “downpour” of unforced errors. Three things can happen when you lob: (1) the lob can be hit too long, and it goes out; (2) the lob could be hit too short and gets attacked by your opponents; (3) the lob can be the perfect rainbow arc and falls onto the court non-returnable by your opponents.

If your opponents are making your pickle ball life from lobs, miserable back up two or three steps from your no volley zone. They should convince them to try other shots such as hitting the ball at your feet, which is more possible the further you move away from the net, this, however, may be the lesser of two evils.

The best option for returning a good lob is to re-lob the good lob high and deep back over the net forcing one or both of your opponents to retreat to their baseline to reset the point/rally.

Important point: the height of your return lob is far more important than the depth. The higher, the lob, the more difficult it is for opponents to hit especially aggressively.


70% of points are the results of unforced errors. Unforced errors are usually offensively hit balls, not defensively hit balls.

Protecting your backhand – – from the deuce court if you are right, handed, and need to protect your backhand, stand so your left foot is only 3 feet away from the midcourt line. If you’re right handed and need to protect your backhand in the ad Court, stand 3 feet from the left side line/baseline intersection.

Reaching for the ball with arm extended, or reaching in front to hit the ball limits power.

Getting closer to the ball increases power.

If a player is moving, he or she is in the worst defensive position possible.

Give your opponent a chance to lose. By playing good defense you increase your chances of winning. 

You win more points by “playing smarter” than hitting harder. 

Force your opponents to hit one more shot.

Ball placement trumps power.

On overhead shot, turn your shoulders and body into a sideways – – facing the sideline – – position as quickly as possible.

Pickleball players are discovering an interesting fact: by a large percentage, the first team to attack the ball aggressively loses the points/rally. Don’t force the attack shot. Wait for the attack shot that has a much better chance of being not defensible.

Probably 70 to 80% of Pickleball hitting errors can be directly attributed to poor foot work. Footwork is the key factor in being in the best position to return shots.

Know the assets/liabilities of your opponents.

My Brief Review:

It is a long book (282 pages but very comprehensive). I skimmed through many of the illustrations and sections of little interest. The content is slightly dated but there are plenty of good tips and strategies for players of all levels.