Pickleball drills are a fantastic way to improve your game and address any weak spots that you may have. Each drill focusses on a specific technique that is often used in the game including dinking, volleying and groundstrokes. These drills can help you take your pickleball game to the next level, impressing your family and friends!
Pickleball Drills — Dinking
You can’t be a great pickleball player unless you can dink well. Dinking is a soft hit where the ball abruptly drops to the ground once it is over the net. These drills will help you perfect your dink!
Basic Dinking Drills
To perform the dink shot well, there should be limited arm and wrist movement. The paddle should be kept at a 45 degree angle and the tip of the paddle should be closer to the net that any part of your body.
To execute a basic dinking drill, stand opposite your partner on the court, on the edge of the non-volley line. Stand with your knees bent and head at a low level. Spend 5 minutes dinking to your partner and concentrating on having the ball drop into the non-volley zone.
After some general dinking practice, concentrate on getting the ball to land at their feet so it is more difficult to return. Try to keep rallies long, which will test your accuracy, coordination and endurance.
Cross Court and Entire Court Dinking
Once you have practiced dinking across from each other, dink from opposite sides of the court. This will help improve your accuracy and ability to dink well from odd angles. The final 1 vs 1 pickleball dinking drill involves both players standing in the center of the court. They can dink at any angle, but after returning the ball they must return to the center of the court.
2 vs 2 Dinking Game – If you have 4 players interested in performing pickleball drills, play a full game but only use dinking after the serve. If a player lands a shot outside of the no-volley zone, their team loses a point. You can also play this drill with 2 people by only using half of the court.
Pickleball Drills — Getting to The Non-volley Line Quickly
Getting to the non-volley line rapidly is an essential pickleball skill. This is because the player at the non-volley line has a significant advantage over a player standing further back in the court. A player at the non-volley line has more angles to play and can afford to be less accurate while still landing the ball in the court. Additionally, if their opponent returns the ball too high, the player on the non-volley line can punish their mistake.
To get to the non-volley line quickly you should practice the start of the match with your partner. Serve deep down the center of the court, then move to the non-volley line. Your partner will attempt to return his shot deep before you can get there. Play the first three shots of the game then practice it again. You are only concentrating on the start of the point.
You can also practice running drills by yourself. In basketball they run a drill called “suicides”. They involve starting at the end of the court, then running to the free throw line, then turning back and running to the start, then turning and running to the halfway, then turning and running to the start. This pattern is repeated until the entire court has been run. You can practice in the same way on a pickleball court — it will help dramatically help improve your speed off the line.
Pickleball Drills — Groundstrokes
Having a great groundstroke can help push your opponents to the back of the court and gain an early advantage after a serve or return. If you have a partner, you can practice your groundstrokes in a few simple ways:
Have each player stand on the left side of their respective sides and play groundstrokes to each other. After a few minutes, repeat the drill while both standing on the right side.
Practice hitting groundstrokes down the right and left lines of the court at your partner. Try to land the ball as close as possible to the boundary line.
Have one player use many balls and rapidly hit them down the middle, left or right of the court. The receiver must alternate their groundstrokes to return them.
Pickleball Drills — Lobbing and Overhead Shots
After you have practiced performing dink shots and ground strokes for between 10 to 15 minutes, incorporate lobs into the action.
Have one player stand at the baseline and hit lobs to the other player. The player receiving the lobs can practice their overhead returns. The person hitting the lobs tries to land them between the no-volley line and the 3/4 court. The receiver tries to return overheads so they can be lobbed again. Practice at least 30 to 40 lobs.
Pickleball Drills — Volleys
Volleys are an easy shot to practice. Stand at the no-volley line and hit volleys to each other. Initially, hit them softly until you can return 20 or more volleys to each other. The goal of this drill is to become comfortable hitting volleys, so gradually build up the pace and become accustomed to playing the shot. Eventually start speeding up your volley shots to hit their backhand more often.
By spending 15 or 20 minutes performing these drills you will dramatically see an improvement in your pickleball game. Have fun on the court!