Top 10 Best Practice Pickleball Drills That Help You Improve Your Games
Here’s the deal:
If you’re looking to improve your pickleball game, practice is necessary.
One of the best ways to hone your skills on the court is through drills.
If you have any weak spots in your game, specific drills for things like dinking, volleying, and lobbing can help you get better.
you’ll find some general drills for the most utilized shots in the game followed by 10 of the best pickleball drills to improve your game.
Let’s get started
If you know anything about pickleball, you see that dinking is a great skill to have. This is a softly hit shot that barely clears the net and lands on your opponent’s side. It’s great when they’re in the back of the court and have to scramble to make the return. If you think your dinking could use some work, dinking drills can help.
Start with your form. To achieve the proper dink, you have to limit your wrist and arm movement. You also have to keep your pickleball paddle at a 45-degree angle. Keep the paddle’s tip closer to the net instead of your body.
A standard dinking drill can be done by standing on the edge of the non-volley line with your knees slightly bent and your head down directly across from your practice partner. Dink to your partner for about five minutes making sure that you drop the ball into the non-volley zone each time. Once you get that under control, focus on dropping the ball at your practice partner’s feet. This makes for a difficult return. The longer you rally, the more you’ll put our accuracy to the test along with your endurance and coordination. As you practice, try to vary your drop to the left and right of your partner.
Change up this drill by standing on the opposite sideline from your practice partner. Hit dinks in the same fashion as you did in the previous drill. Switch sidelines after five minutes so your forehand and backhand sides get equal practice time. This is known as a crosscourt dinking drill.
Non-volley Line Drills
Another general drill is the non-volley line drill. It’s important to get to the non-volley line as quick as possible when playing pickleball. This position gives you more of an advantage over a player standing deeper in the court. They have more angles at their disposal and have a little more wiggle room for error on this line. Since this is important, you should practice getting to the line as much as your practice your shots.
To do this, serve the ball to your partner down the center of the court as deep as you can. Then, rush to the non-volley line as your practice partner tries to return the deep shot before you can get to the line. Practice this a few times and concentrate on getting to the non-volley line before your partner can return the shot. If you are familiar with the basketball drill called “suicides,” this drill is similar to that.
The next general drill that you should try if you need help is the groundstroke drill. As you should already know, a groundstroke is a stroke after the ball has bounced. There are a few different ways you can practice this. These drills can be done with two or four players.
The first way is to hit crosscourt groundstrokes to your practice partner(s). The second is to switch to down the line groundstrokes. After hitting forehand groundstrokes, you should then switch to practice your backhand groundstrokes.
These two go hand in hand, so it makes sense that a general pickleball drill will incorporate them together. You and your practice partner can switch sides, so you both get to practice hitting overhand shots and hitting lobs. You’ll both benefit from this type of drill.
One general drill is to have your practice partner start as the lobber positioned at the baseline. They should hit lobs to you. These lobs should be high, so you can then try an overhead shot (don’t hit it at full power). Your partner should then hit a lob in return. Focus on your form as well as on control instead of power. Switch positions with your practice partner so you can hit lobs and return overshot returns.
For more help, check out this video:
The next general drill that you should practice is a volley drill. Similar to dink drills, you and your partner will take on the same positions, but instead of letting the shots bounce, you focus on keeping the ball in the air.
The basic volley drill can be for two or four players. Each one should send the ball to the other so they can make a return volley. The main idea here is to maintain a long rally of continuous hits. No one should be trying to hit a scoring shot. You and your practice partner can switch positions so you can work on forehand and backhand shots, too.
Keep things even with your skill level. For example, if you’re a beginner, the volleys should be slower and high, but if you’re more advanced you can vary the speed and the positioning of your volleys. However, you should test yourself by pushing for faster volleys and hitting backhand volleys as well as forehand ones.
To better explain things, here is a video on volleying drills:
These drills above are some basic and general drills that you can try out to hone your skills. The following are 10 of the best pickleball drills that you can do on your own (note: these drills are all for four players in a 2-on-2 position):
1. The 3-D Drill: This consists of one team hitting a deep serve with the other hitting a deep return. The serving team returns with a dink. This gives the drill the 3-D name: deep, deep, dink. Switch sides, so both teams have an opportunity to hit all three shots.
2. Dink Game: In this drill, you’re playing a short game with your practice partner using only dinks—no lobs. You should start by using a dink serve to land within the no-volley zone. You have to hit at least four dinks besides your initial serve before you can try for a winner or kill shot. A winner, however, must be a dink. Play until someone reaches 11.
3. One vs. Two Dink Drill: Here, one player should stay near the post and switch in after each full drill. With one player on one side of the net and two on the other, the single player hits dinks to the other two players from the left side, the middle, and the right side of the court and then back again. Players should then rotate around.
4. Lob Game: In the same fashion as the dink game, play a practice match using only lobs (serves included). If a lob lands in the no-volley zone, it’s a fault. You can play until seven or 11.
5. The 4-4 Drill: Here, two teams of two players face off using one ball. Hit four volleys followed by four dinks. This pattern should be repeated until one side misses a return. This should be repeated a few times. No one should be looking to win a rally, the goal is to just keep the ball alive.
6. Feed-Split-Hit Drill: This drill puts one player on one side of the net and three on the other side at the baseline of the court. One of the three players will run to the net while the single player will feed them the ball as the runner split-steps. The player should hit the soft shot back to the no-volley zone. Each player on the line does this twice before switching out the single player.
7. 5-Minute Volley Drill: In this practice drill, no team should be looking to hit winners. The idea here is to volley back and forth, keeping the ball alive and in the air as it is hit back and forth between the teams. Do this for five minutes.
8. Groundstroke Direction Drill: Using the same set up as the general groundstroke drills described earlier, here, you’ll hit groundstrokes to different spots instead of back and forth. With four players at each corner of the court, each player has to hit their return shot back to the player on the other team who did NOT hit the ball to them. For example, if you’re returning a line shot, hit a crosscourt shot.
9. Dink-Lob Drill: In this 2-on-2 drill, everyone should stand at the no-volley zone line. There should be six dinks followed by the winning shot. The ball should then be retrieved, and the drill will be picked up again. Make sure to alternate who hits the lob.
10. Figure 8 Dink Practice Game: Here, you’ll play until 15 in a rally scoring format. You have to play the ball in a figure-8. Use four dinks to move the ball before changing the direction. If there is a miss, partners have to change their positions on the team.