The best way to improve your skill level is with pickleball drills. Popular solo pickleball drills include the selfie ball bounce, wall drills, and serve repeats. Doubles pickleball drills include cross-court dinks, forehand and backhand dinks, and triangle dinks.
Solo Pickleball Drills
#1 Selfie ball bounce
The selfie ball bounce is a solo drill to develop the fundamentals of pickleball: ball control, hand-eye coordination, and reaction time.
There are two variations of this drill for a pickleball player to try: the easy version and the advanced version.
Both follow the same pattern: holding the paddle horizontally to the ground, you hit the pickleball, let it bounce, hit it again, and then repeat. The goal is to keep this solo ‘rally’ going for as many hits as possible.
- Easy version: The easy version of this drill involves hitting the ball up with the top face of the pickleball paddle. You then let it fall past you to bounce before scooping it up into the air again and repeating. This version of the drill is slightly easier because it gives you more reaction time. However, it still develops the ability to hit dinks and lobs.
- Advanced version: For advanced players, the second version of this drill uses the bottom side of the paddle and involves hitting the ball down into the ground. Imagine you’re bouncing a basketball with your hand, but instead of a basketball, you use a paddle and a pickleball. This version of the selfie ball bounce tests your hand-eye coordination and reaction time. The ball is fast and you don’t have much time to set yourself between shots. The advanced selfie ball bounce can be a good quick warm-up before a pickleball game.
#2 Pickleball Wall Drills
Pickleball wall drills are a crucial part of pickleball practice for solo players. They’re one of the best pickleball drills for developing your all round pickleball skills. All it requires is a wall and a bit of space.
To set up this drill, place a line of tape along the wall at roughly the height of a net. Once this is done, you can simply begin a rally. The wall acts simultaneously as the other side of the court and your opponent.
This is one of the best pickleball drills because it gives you a chance to practice hitting your forehand shots, pickleball volleys, groundstrokes, backhand shots, and any other shots you want to develop.
Hitting shots is the best way to ingrain good technique into your muscle memory. You can develop your footwork and hand-eye coordination, as well as specialist shots such as the backhand volley and dink shot.
To make this drill even better, try hitting at different spots on the wall. This has the dual benefit of improving your accuracy and forcing you to reach as the wall bounces the ball back to varied places.
Even better, if you can have a big enough garage or indoor space, you can complete this drill all year round (even in the winter months!)
#3 Serve Repeats
Serve repeats is a drill that helps take your serving to the next level. Grab a bucket of balls, and set up on a pickleball court. Attempt to repeatedly serve to the same spot—aim close to the baseline at the back third of the service box.
By repeating your serve over and over, you’ll ingrain the action into your muscle memory for when the pressure is on. You can switch up this drill by aiming for different points on the baseline. Try practicing serving deep and to your opponent’s backhand. This is often the hardest serve to return.
Pickleball Drills for Two Players
#4 Cross-court dinks
Dinks are a crucial weapon in any pickleball player’s arsenal, and this drill is a great way to practice.
To complete this drill, you and your partner should stand on the kitchen line on opposite sides of the net. Set yourself up across the court from each other (i.e both of you on the right side of the court).
Then complete a rally with both of you aiming to hit into the non-volley zone on your opponent’s side of the court.
This drill helps to develop two crucial pickleball skills: hitting dinks and returning them.
#5 Forehand and backhand dinks
This is a variation of the cross-court dinks drill. In this version, you and your partner stand opposite each other (one on the left side of the court, one on the right). You then hit down the line to each other (positioned as if you were playing “down the line” skinny singles). This results in one of you hitting forehands and the other hitting backhands.
#6 Triangle Dinks
The triangle dinks drill emphasizes footwork.
- First, hit to your opponent’s forehand.
- Then, hit to their backhand.
- Finally, hit a drop shot as close to the net as possible.
Your opponent will then repeat the same pattern of shots to you. This forces you to keep moving, developing your shot technique while also testing your footwork.
#7 Crosscourt forehand and backhand dinks
Standing diagonal to each other at the kitchen line, one player hits forehand cross-court dinks while the other hits backhand cross-court dinks.
#8 Alternating forehand and backhand dinks
Just as with #7 above, each player stands diagonally to each other at the kitchen line. However, each player alternates between hitting forehand and backhand shots in this variation.
Pickleball Footwork Exercises
Side-stepping is a classic drill that many sports use to increase movement speed and footwork.
- Set up several cones in a line with about two feet between them.
- Run up the line, crisscrossing between the cones from side to side.
This exercise helps support your lateral movement. Pickleball is played mainly from left to right. Developing a quick and reliable side-step will ensure your movement across the court becomes a strength of your game.
#10 Figure 8
Figure 8 is a slightly more complicated version of the side-stepping drill that is a great way to improve your fitness.
- Set up two cones about three feet apart.
- Move around them in a figure 8 pattern. Keep facing the same way (as if you were facing the net in a game of pickleball).
- Start slow and build up to a quicker speed.
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