Drills aren't just for beginners. Advanced pickleball players need to keep developing their skills too. From wall drills, ball machine assisted drills, and partnered drills, peruse our list of advaned drills to improve your game.
Solo Pickleball Wall Drills
Even the most advanced players can tend to neglect their backhand. It feels like such a basic element of the game that pickleball players of a higher skill level can easily ignore it in favor of trickier skills. However, the backhand doesn’t come as naturally as the forehand, so it still needs plenty of practice.
The backhands-only wall drill is a great way to ingrain this type of shot in your muscle memory. Simply set up against a wall (or with a pickleball machine if you have one) and try to have the longest rally with yourself you can.
However, here’s the kicker: you’re hitting backhands, which means you must keep the ball on the left side of your body (for right-handed players).
This is a brilliant drill to improve hand-eye coordination and reaction time. It can also be used as a warm-up to get moving before a pickleball game.
- Set up close to the wall (1-2 meters) and have a volley rally with yourself, alternating between hitting your forehand and your backhand.
- Avoid soft shots – you want to hit firm volley drives to get the ball moving at speed and improve your reaction time.
- Make sure you’re not just standing still – volleys require footwork as much as groundstrokes! Remember to step into the ball and return to the ready position between each shot.
If you want to add another level to this drill, draw a non-volley zone line (NVZ) on the floor before you, and practice not stepping over the NVZ line while hitting volleys. Remember: your pickleball paddle can go over the kitchen line, not your feet!
Forehand and Backhand Backspin Dink
This drill works essentially the same way as the first two: it is a way to repeatedly practice hitting the same type of shot to ingrain it into your muscle memory. Your dink game is a crucial weapon in pickleball, so having one to rely on can be a massive boon.
For this dink drill variation, alternate between forehand and backhand dinks. To improve your technique, hit downward on the ball – this adds backspin, slowing the ball down and making it bounce lower.
Third Shot Drop Shots with Spin
Hit a pickleball serve against the wall. To make this drill more useful, pick a specific spot on the wall and practice hitting it every time to improve accuracy.
As the ball returns to you, hit a drop shot with backspin against the wall. Though it can be hard to tell exactly where the ball is going, drawing a line on the wall to show a net can help you to practice keeping the ball low and nudging it over.
Enhance Training With Pickleball Machine-Assisted Drills
The price tag may scare you away from buying a pickleball machine, but if you’re fortunate enough to have access to one, practicing solo can be achieved on the court instead of in front of a wall.
Our top picks for the best pickleball machines can mirror the shots you’ll see during a game and even customize these shots to match in-game situations.
Drills for Two Players
Stand on the kitchen line on the other side of the net from your partner for this drill. Both of you should be on the right side of the court.
Play a rally where each of you is hitting dinks across the court into the kitchen (but only the half of the court you are playing on).
Cross-court dinks are crucial to develop because they open up angles in the game. This drill allows you to improve your dink shot and skill at returning dinks.
Triangle dinking is a two-player drill where you alternate acting as a player and a coach. It works like this:
- The ‘coach’ has three pickleball balls in their hand.
- They feed three shots to the ‘player’ – one backhand dink, one forehand dink, and one drop shot as close to the net as possible.
- This drill improves footwork and forces the ‘player’ to move quickly between shots.
- To make this drill harder, try and always return to the NVZ line and get into the ready position between shots.
Once the player has completed this drill three times, swap roles (with the ‘player’ becoming the ‘coach’ and vice versa).
Attack vs. Defense
This fun drill works on game management and developing your ability to both attack and defend.
- Pick an attacker and a defender.
- The defender starts by serving a high, easily attackable ball to the attacker on the baseline, giving them a chance to hit a powerful drive and then back.
- The point then plays out as normal, with the attacker trying to take advantage of the situation and the defender trying to stay in the point.
If you want to make this more of a competition, add a scoring element: take turns playing as an attacker and defender. If you win a point as the attacker, you score one point; however, if you win a point as a defender, you score three!
Skinny singles is like regular singles, but it is played on just half the court. This variation is a great way to practice your accuracy, as your hitting area is much narrower.
It also forces you to think about game management. Due to the smaller playing space, it’s harder to hit winners past your opponent—instead, you must out-think them, using what little space you have to maneuver them around the court to create gaps for yourself.
Dominating the kitchen line is a crucial part of winning pickleball matches. The best tactic is to get to the NVZ line quickly and then keep your opponent forced back at the baseline, giving you room to beat them with dinks.
Here’s a great drill to practice this skill:
- Start a point with Player A at the kitchen line and Player B at the baseline.
- Player A serves Player B, then a standard point is played.
- Player A gets practice winning a point from this advanced position, while Player B gets to work on their defensive skills as they try to regain control.
Similarly to Attack vs. Defense, try making this a competition. If Player A wins from the kitchen line, they get a single point; if Player B wins from the baseline, they get two. After each point, swap positions.
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