Just like with any sport, the better you get at pickleball, the more fun you will have playing the sport. Pickleball drills will improve not only your pickleball ability but also your general cardiovascular fitness and health.
The number of available pickleball drills increases every day, but I will attempt to cover as many as possible in this article.
These drills cover hand-eye coordination, speed, paddle control, footwork, endurance and reflexes.
Why Pickleball Drills?
Making a habit of regularly doing drills, whether simple or advanced drills can greatly improve the game of any pickleball player over time. ‘Practice makes perfect’ is applicable in every field of life and it’s no different in pickleball.
Pickleball drills help players in so many ways, from holding the paddle properly to knowing the right shot to take in certain situations.
To be successful in this sport, you need to first learn the basics before proceeding to the core aspects of pickleball.
Pickleball Drills For Beginners
Get A Feel For The Paddle
One of the first mistakes you can make as a beginner is not understanding the paddle and how to use it properly. This drill of one of the best and most commonly used methods to get a proper feel of the paddle.
Hold the pickleball paddle horizontally and practice hitting the ball straight up into the air without losing control.
When you get used to hitting the ball, try hitting the ball with different sides of the paddle. Switch the faces of the paddle, and try bouncing the ball on the top, sides, and center of the paddle; all this is just to see the different effects that the different parts of the paddle have on the ball.
This drill will help you understand the sweet spot of the paddle and the parts of the paddle that you should avoid hitting the ball with.
Floor Ball Bounce
This drill is a lot like the one above, but instead of bouncing the ball on the paddle into the air, you will be bouncing the ball off your paddle downwards against the ground. You should keep your knees bent and your body square during this drill.
When you get comfortable doing this drill in a stationary position, you can take it to the next level by trying to keep control while moving your feet. This is more challenging but it will definitely help in improving your reactions and overall ability.
Dinking In The Kitchen
For this drill, you will need to go to the court with your partner. You and your partner will stand on opposite sides of the kitchen lines with the net between you.
This drill aims to keep hitting the ball into each other’s kitchen and maintaining the rhythm. You are meant to focus on getting the ball to land just over the net rather than going for a slam or kill shot.
You and your partner should attempt to do this from different angles.
Note: It’s fine if you don’t have a partner, in the next part of this article, we will talk about wall drills that you can do by yourself.
Serve Repeat Drills
This drill is better done with a partner but it can also be done alone. The problem with doing this drill alone is that unless you have a bucket of balls or a ball machine, it will involve a lot of running back and forth to get balls back, but I guess that is also a decent workout in itself.
If you have a partner, both of you should take turns serving, and receiving serves. Practice hitting serves so that the ball lands at the back ⅓ of the court just before the baseline.
Once you’ve mastered this serve, start practicing hitting the ball to the receiver’s backhand, so the ball lands at the back of the court.
This is a popular and effective way to serve because most players you will encounter are much better with their forehand and prefer receiving serves with their forehand. Mastering serving to their backhand will give you an edge.
Continue switching from one side of the court to another until you get comfortable and consistent on both sides.
Forehand and Backhand Dink Drills
For this drill, both players stand in the non-volley zone on their side of the net. It’s a very simple drill to understand; one player hits the ball over the net with a forehand shot and the other player receives it with his backhand.
This continues until both players are comfortable enough with their respective shots. After this, the roles are reversed and the person that was using the forehand shot starts using the backhand shot.
In this drill, nobody tries to slam or win the point, the aim of the drill is just to continue hitting the ball and getting accustomed to both your forehand and your backhand.
Pickleball Practice Wall
Basically, any wall will do for these do-it-yourself (diy) pickleball drills. In order to mimic the pickleball net on the wall, grab some tape and tape off a section of the wall.
Place a piece of tape horizontally that will imitate the top of the pickleball net; the top of the tape should be 34 inches high. After this, grab two more pieces of tape.
You need to practice keeping your shots low because you don’t want to make it easy for your opponents to win points against you.
For this reason, you will need to use a piece of tape to outline your target space; the goal is to hit the ball over the tape for the net but under the tape for the target space.
Once you have this setup, you can use it to practice a wide variety of pickleball drills.
The last piece of tape will be used to replicate the Non-Volley Zone (or Kitchen) line. You have to stay out of the Kitchen when volleying the pickleball.
Pickleball Wall Drills
For this drill, you should make a box on the wall using tape. After this, you should practice repeatedly dinking the ball into the box you have created.
You should try and do this at least 100 times during each session; 50 with the forehand and 50 with the backhand. This drill will improve your accuracy and consistency when taking dink shots.
For dinks, it is important to bend your knees, use your shoulders, and consistently hit the sweet spot.
There are not many things more satisfying than a perfectly hit volley to win you the point.
For this drill, you should attempt to volley the ball against the wall as many times as possible without it hitting the ground. This will improve your reaction time and help you get the hang of manipulating your paddle to be able to get out of any situation that may arise when playing a game of pickleball.
As you get used to it, try switching between your forehand and backhand so you have to practice moving your paddle quickly across your body.
Serve, Drive, Drop
You will require more space for this drill as it involves more movement. Start at your baseline and serve against the wall. As the ball is coming back to you, drive the ball back into your target or above the net line. On your third shot, execute a drop shot. Continue repeating this until you get the hang of it.
In this wall drill, the goal here is to replicate the types of shots you might take during the match. After you have gotten comfortable with this drill when just taking it above the net line, you can take it to the next level by trying to get each shot into the target.
Pickleball Drills For Yourself
Practice Your Serve
Serving is something you want to get really good at in pickleball because having a great serve can get you over the line in a lot of matches.
For this drill, stand at your baseline, as far back as 20 feet. Put your bucket of balls next to you, then let it rip. You could do this on the court with a net or with a wall.
The goal isn’t to just hit above the net/line now, but it’s also important to fine-tune the types of serves you think would give you an edge during games.
Don’t forget to serve from different spots along the baseline during this drill.
Practice Hitting Your Target
After you have been able to master consistently getting the ball above the line, the next focus now is your aim. For this drill, you will need to grab some chalk or tape, then draw a square somewhere along the line.
Start with a big square, then keep making it smaller as you progress. This square will be your target for the drill. You will take the same types of shots you were taking before, but now instead of just getting it above the line, you will also be trying to hit your square as often as possible.
To make it more challenging, you can make squares of different sizes and in different places. Try to hit the different targets in succession with different types of shots.
Practice Your Volley
The distance from the volley line to the net is 7 feet, so for this drill, you will need to stand 7 feet away from your wall. For this drill, you will practice volleying the ball by repeatedly hitting it against the wall and attempting not to let it bounce in between strikes.
If you really want to challenge yourself, you can aim for targets while volleying. But if you think you are not ready for that yet, you can just focus on keeping the ball in the air. See if you can volley it fifteen or twenty times in a row, and keep trying to improve the number from there.
This drill will help you learn to volley better during games.
Improve Your Backhand
A lot of times, players focus on their forehand and do all the drills with their forehand, almost completely neglecting the backhand. This is something you definitely shouldn’t do because good players have a way of capitalizing on any weaknesses they spot.
The backhand shot is a crucial tool that you need to master if you want to take your game to the next level. To improve your backhand, you will need to do every drill with your backhand as well as your forehand.
This will help you be more comfortable using your backhand and will have a great impact on your overall game.
Practice Your Legwork
Being a good pickleball player is more than just being able to hit good shots. Your movement on the court is also very important. When you are practicing and doing drills, it is helpful to shuffle back and forth to get your legs used to the demands of a pickleball match.
Make sure you are always in a ready position when the ball is coming to you and try not to cross your legs over each other because that will make you lose balance.
A common drill is to mark two sidelines with chalk or tape and practice shuffling across from side to side. You should keep your center of gravity low and focus on getting across the ground/court quickly.
Pickleball Drills For Two
This drill is a great way for pickleball players to make their dink shots better.
This drill is done on only half of the court at the non-volley zone. One player is on either side of the net, while the other player is directly opposite on the other side of the net.
The ball is out if it goes outside the sideline, baseline, or center line of that half of the court. For this drill, neither player is expected to hit a winner, they are just meant to keep hitting soft and controlled dinks over the net.
The cross-court dinking drill is similar to the half-court dinking drill, the difference is that you’re playing cross-court instead of half-court and you will be hitting the ball diagonally.
This means that the ball is out if you hit it outside the court that is diagonal to you. The players must hit the ball over the net and into the non-volley zone that is diagonal to them.
The triangle dink drill is perfect for practicing ball placement. Both players stand in the non-volley zone on their side of the net and the idea is to keep your opponent moving around the non-volley zone by hitting the ball to three different spots in the zone, forming a triangle.
If you dink to different spots, the other player will have to keep moving and try to anticipate where your shot is going. This drill helps to improve your aim and placement as well as your anticipation and reactions; which are crucial in pickleball.
This drill is great for practicing both forehand and backhand shots.
You will be able to practice both parts of this drill because while your partner is working on placement, you will be reacting and working on your anticipation, legwork and vice versa.
Alternating Forehand and Backhand Dinks
This drill is really basic and straightforward. Both players switch between hitting with a forehand shot and hitting a backhand shot.
With the alternating forehand and backhand dinks drill, players stand in the non-volley zone diagonal to each other. Each player alternates hitting a forehand and backhand shot.
When one player hits with their forehand, the other player returns with their backhand and vice versa. They keep alternating who uses the forehand and who uses the backhand so that both players can practice both shots adequately.
Block and Volley
The Block and Volley Drill will improve your ball control. As the ball comes over the net, hold your paddle up and let the ball hit your paddle; don’t move your paddle towards the ball, and don’t add force behind your hit. It should pop off your paddle and go over the net.
Your practice partner should do the exact same thing with their paddle on their side of the net. It’s a great way to get the ball over the net while you’re standing in the non-volley zone. The ball is already coming with force, so you are effectively just guiding it.
This is a pickleball drill that is played using half the court with your partner. Because it is only played on half of the pickleball court, it imitates the strategies and shot selections you would use when playing doubles, or skinny singles. The ball is out if it goes to the other half of the court.
Pickleball Drills for 4 Players
Drills on Changing the Direction of the Ball
In this drill, four players hit the ball back and forth to each other at a pace where they can keep a long rally going; nobody is trying to win the point.
Each player should return the ball back to the other team on the other side of the net in the direction it didn’t come from. What this means is that if you receive the ball down the line, you should hit it back cross-court, and if you received the ball cross-court, then you hit it back down the line.
Being able to change the direction of the ball is really important when playing pickleball because it will help you to move your opponent around more and tire them out.
For this drill, you have two teams on opposite sides of the net. One team lobs the ball and the other team hits it overhead.
One team should be trying to put their smashes away while the other team should be trying to lob the ball high and deep. If the players are beginners, they should be considerate of what the other team is attempting to do when they lob or smash.
There should be lots of rallies of over five hits for both teams to get the most out of this drill.
This drill requires four players to stand at the no-volley line and volley the ball back and forth; you can also do volley drills with two players.
Each player should try to hit the ball to the other player in a way that will allow them to keep the ball going. As players get better, you can start hitting the ball harder at each other but if you’re just starting out you should just focus on getting consistently long rallies.
Try to interchange between forehand shots and backhand shots as much as possible.
Pickleball Drills at Home
Pickleball drills that you can do at home are effectively just the pickleball wall drills that we covered earlier in the article.
To carry out these drills at home, you will need to make a makeshift pickleball wall in your home with tape or chalk on a suitable wall as we discussed earlier.
Not needing to leave the house to practice will be really helpful because it’s not every time one is free enough to go to the court.
In addition to this, you can also do paddle work at home. Bounce the ball on your paddle and get a feel of the paddle; fully understanding the paddle and knowing the sweet spot subconsciously will help a lot during matches.
Advanced Pickleball Drills
The Hit and Run
You will need to be really fit to carry out this quick-paced drill.
This drill involves constant running as you will be changing the ball’s direction with every hit. While running at a decent speed, one player hits every ball down the line as his counterpart brings them cross-court. Players alternate between strokes after each set, ensuring that both players get a good workout.
Both players should be constantly moving as fast as they can if they hope to get the desired results from this drill. You should avoid this drill if you have any injuries and you are not at 100%.
The Flip Side
Three players are needed for this drill as each player takes turns playing against the other two players.
The two players send the balls in the direction of the third player quickly and repeatedly, while the third player fights back with the use of only forehand shots.
The third player alternates between cross-court swings and down-the-line hits toward his opponents. After a while, the third player starts using only their backhand; it’s a really fun and exciting drill.
There are so many effective pickleball drills out there and the number increases every day as people are looking for new ways to improve at this rapidly growing sport.
I’ve tried to cover as many as I can, but there are definitely some others that you will come across that are not in this article; that goes to show the vast number of pickleball drills out there.
The more you practice these drills, the better and more consistent you will get at pickleball. It is important to always try to improve and never settle for the level you are at; that is the only way you can grow.
Got any other drills you love? Drop me an email or add a comment below.
Thank you for reading, Cheers!!!
Last update on 2023-05-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API