As we all know, a player’s skills are sharpened and polished through consistent practice over time. However, knowledge precedes skill, and should not be neglected – we’re talking about the power of books.
While there are plenty of great pickleball videos and articles now on the Internet (I think a great way to improve your game is to watch 5.0 games on youtube), a detailed and well-written book on a specific subject can sometimes deliver more value than a video.
A book won’t replace private pickleball lessons with a coach or the value of many hours of practice on the court. However, for those times when you are off the court, the tips and strategies in a good pickleball book can definitely supplement your training and help improve your skills and understanding of the sport- jump-starting your game if you are a beginner and helping breaking through barriers that can cause intermediate and advanced players to plateau.
If you haven’t tried audiobooks, it’s another great option – especially to take advantage of those times when you can’t read or watch content (i.e. stuck in traffic, busy cooking or doing other stuff around the house).
Although there still aren’t a lot of pickleball options, luckily one of the best selling and top-rated pickleball books (Smart Pickleball) is available as an audiobook and you can currently get it for free on Amazon with a free trial of Audible audiobooks.
The last time we updated this list (Jan 2019) there were only two pickleball books with audio versions but with the rise of popularity in audiobooks we’re guessing there will be more soon. This link will show you all the current audio pickleball books on Amazon.
Like most sports, especially racket sports, much of the game is mental so we’ve included a few books on our list, including “Mind Game“, that specifically address how to improve your mental game on the pickleball court. Be sure to also check out our list of top pickleball podcasts – another great way to maximize your improvement while off the court – whether you’re cooking in the (actual) kitchen, commuting or heading to or from your next match.
Below, we’ve handpicked some of the best pickleball books that to help improve your skills.
Types of pickleball books:
The most general pickleball books cover the basics and fundamental concepts of the game itself.
Beginner Books: these books often explain the rules, scoring, the simplest tactics, and have plenty of comments which clarify potentially advanced drills.
On the other hand, certain books explain the mental aspect of pickleball – outwitting your opponent is different in every sport, and pickleball is not an exception. Having your “head in the game” and building self-confidence in your abilities is critical if you plan to play competitively or enter pickleball tournaments.
Last, but not least, there are plenty of “strategy” books. These books explain in detail every action you’ve taken and imagined to take on the pickleball field. For pickleball, this includes many topics: shot selection, when to dink or not, 3rd shot strategy, and the return of serve…among many others.
Best Pickleball Books | Reviews
At the Line – The Winning Doubles Pickleball Strategy
In essence, “At the Line” is a strategy pickleball book. This book explains various pickleball strategies for both singles and doubles play. Beginners, intermediate, and experienced players can benefit all the same, as there’s a manifold of strategies involved. However, the full title insinuates that most strategies revolve around teamwork and communication between doubles.
“At the Line” was written by Joe Baker – even though he’s a mechanical engineer by trade, his pickleball strategy videos are revered among pickleball fans worldwide and we’ve referred our readers to his strategy videos in the past.
The book is highly interactive, as it features quizzes after each chapter, allowing you to test what you’ve learned right after reading.
“At the Line” features 160 pages of comprehensive, educative material, which is neither too much or too little. You can get this book in both Kindle and paperback editions.
How to Play Pickleball: The Complete Guide from A to Z
How to Play Pickleball: The Complete Guide from A to Z is a new release (Oct 2018).
This book starts with basic rules and works through to more advanced strategy and shot selection for players at competitive levels.
Coach Mo is known for training players at the national tournament levels and transmits that knowledge in this book along with lots of detailed explanation using photographs and diagrams.
This book is a recommended pick for anyone from beginner to 5.0 players.
Smart Pickleball is a product of extensive collaboration between Prem Carnot (The “Pickleball Guru” as he calls himself) and Wendy Garrido which bore fruits on the 29th November of the year 2014. Prem has a plethora of online pickleball videos, and he certainly did an amazing job with the marketing campaign which followed upon “Smart Pickleball” release. Wendy, on the other hand, writes primarily about motivation spanning through all kinds of spheres.
Prem is also the author of Pickleball Guru Academy clinic which intends to show players the ways of this amazing sport.
The book features 166 pages of creative, colorful diagrams of different pickleball situations and strategies, and it’s primarily focused on helping beginners and intermediate players. Of course, advanced players can always benefit from retaking the early steps in case anything was forgotten or skipped.
If you are looking for a detailed explanation of the 3rd shot drop shot and how to use it effectively there is a whole section on this and that in itself is worth the price of the book for players looking to master the drop shot strategy. “Smart Pickleball” is the first pickleball book that we know of which also comes as an audio edition as well. You can get the audio version for free with a trial of Audible audio books.
History of Pickleball: More Than 50 Years of Fun!
While most of the books on this list are about pickleball strategy and how to improve your game, this one is a great look at the history of the sport from its early beginnings in 1965 to the current day.
The book is the end result of over three years of research and includes stories from some of the pioneers of the sport. Jennifer Lucore is a 17-time USAPA National Champion, check out her blog here. Beverly Youngren was one of the first USAPA Ambassadors.
The Art of Pickleball
“The Art of Pickleball” came like a sort of a surprise, given that Gale Leach (the author) published children’s adventure books prior to this. Be it as it may, “The Art of Pickleball” sprang to be one of the best-selling books on Amazon in a very short time.
The book explains every single aspect of pickleball, including the gear needed to play it, as well as the strategies implemented by professional players. Both beginners and advanced players should give it a go, as it’s written in a conversational, engaging, and straightforward language that will surely benefit players of all skill-levels – certain chapters talk about the mental aspect of the game as well.
This pickleball book is a bit more comprehensive than others, given that it features 216 pages of premium-quality material.
The Pickle Ball Bible
The “Pickle Ball Bible” was written by Dr. Rick Lambson and Tim Finger, with Robert Thompson being the co-author. Essentially, this book is a short one, as it should provide you with basic guidelines to help you learn the ropes. It begins by stating the rules of the game and jumps straight to fundamental skills, such as serving, ground shots, lobs, and such.
Halfway through the book, you will get to learn some strategies used by professional players, just before you get to the “Mental Game” chapter which is supposed to drill into your mind how to withstanding stressful game situations. The Pickle Ball Bible was published on September 3rd, 2015.
The book is written like a workbook with student assignments and performance scorecards to record your progress.
The 176 pages of Pickleball Fundamentals are both fun and engaging – this book aims to help beginners grasp the basic concepts of this amazing game, and it’s considered as one of the essentials for any player. Fun fact – this book was endorsed and authored by USA Pickleball Association.
The book features chapters that explain in detail everything you need to know to get on the field straight away – you’ll learn how the shots are executed (and called), how to serve a ball and convert it into a point, and much more.
The “Pickleball Fundamentals” was published on May 27th, 2015, and it’s considered by some as one of the best pickleball books ever written.
Mind Game: A Quantum Performance Leap for Competitive Pickleball and Tennis
Mind Game was written by Neil Schulenburg – an avid pickleball player and a psychotherapist. Neil wrote this book in collaboration with Cathy Foley, Allison Cox, and Lorraine Coiro – it’s truly a breath of fresh air to see people who care so much about this amazing sport.
Generally, this book aims to discipline the minds of pickleball players, teaching how to perceive and accept the knowledge of pickleball, how to treat their victories and how to cope with defeat.
Certain chapters delve deep into the psychology, explaining the mental processing, as well as key brain functions, which is pretty comprehensive for a pickleball book. Even though it features only 103 pages, the “Mind Game” will certainly blow your mind once you’ve tackled the knowledge contained within.
Pickleball Zen – The Inner Game
Pickleball Zen is actually a series – it features the “Inner Game” and “Venus Rising”, both of which are phenomenal pickleball books written by Paul Hudanich.
The “Inner Game” was published on January 26th, 2016, and it’s intended to help players with their “brain”, rather than “brawl”.
This is more of a guidebook than a standard pickleball book, considering that it features only 64 pages. Nevertheless, each one is filled with quality pickleball material.
There are already some great pickleball books on the market and as the sport grows we expect to see more. It’s been said to “Read books so that you can easily get what others have toiled to obtain”, in the case of pickleball the idea is to hone your skills through learning about the sport, studying proven winning strategies to build the mental stamina to compete – rather than just going out on the court a couple times a week to hitting the ball around in hopes of getting better.