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How to Hit a Cut Shot in Pickleball

A pickleball shot during a mixed doubles match.

You may have heard that pickleball has many similar rules to tennis and racquetball. Not only are the rules similar, but so are many of the techniques you might see on the court! If you’re new to pickleball, expect to see lots of topspin and cut shots, among other techniques.

Those with a tennis background should especially be familiar with the cut shot. Topspin and cut shots are both important fundamentals in pickleball. In this article, you will learn how to do a cut shot and when you should use it.

What is a Cut Shot?

A senior hits a shot, competing in a pickleball tournament.

A cut shot is whenever the player takes the paddle from high to low to “cut” the ball. This lets players put a backspin on the ball. This may look complicated, especially when you first see it! However, the technique is fairly simple.

The more important question is whether you find it useful during play. Since not everyone plays pickleball with the same style, not every player will feel comfortable using cut shots.

Pros And Cons of Cut Shots

A pickleball backhand shot.

Like any other pickleball technique, the cut shot has advantages and disadvantages. Here are a few to consider as you start practicing this move on the court.

Pros of Cut Shots

One pro to the cut slice is that it keeps the ball low after you hit it and it bounces forward. Even more seasoned pickleball athletes can have a hard time getting enough lift on return. This is especially so whenever you use a drive return to make it even more difficult for your opponent to clear the net!

One of the most effective moves is slicing the ball with a backhand or forehand return of serve. Cut shots remain in the air longer than when hitting the ball with a flat or topspin. They also travel deeper into the court.

This puts your opponent at a disadvantage since they become pinned along the baseline. This makes it tough to recover after hitting a third shot.

Cons of Cut Shots

But the cut shot is not always an incredible advantage. There are moments when you may not want to use it. Sometimes it could even come back to bite you.

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The biggest disadvantage to the cut shot is that it can tend to make the ball float. This is the drawback of keeping the ball in the air for longer periods of time. Leaving the ball floating in the air for too long can open vulnerabilities that put you on the defense.

It’s vital to remember this whenever including cut shots in your arsenal. To counteract the tendency for the ball to float, try to hit it low over the net. The harder your cut shot, the more important this correction is.

Hitting the ball low over the net mitigates a lot of the ball’s airtime and therefore potential float. This can actually put you at a greater advantage in certain instances by making it even tougher for opponents to react appropriately.

How to Start Using the Cut Shot?

A senior hits a pickleball shot during a tournament.

When starting out using the cut shot, keep a few things in mind. Early on, go for proper form and implementation over power. Focus on proper execution and technique rather than strength.

Trying to hit cut shots too hard before you’ve really gotten into the groove will just send the ball out of bounds. Keeping the cut shot less powerful will help you keep the ball low after the bounce and lessen the odds you send it out. Before trying to improve your cut shot, you have got to start with the basics and master it.

After honing your cut shot technique, try to hit the ball lower and lower over the net. This gives you better control over the ball’s tendency to float after a cut shot. Finally, once you’ve figured out how to perform a cut shot and keep it low, start adding power.

If you’re patient and consistent, you’ll be able to execute a powerful shot to beat your opponent.