Is your pickleball experience limited to games on the court? Is your skill level starting to feel stagnant? How often, if ever, do you focus on drills? Pickleball is so much fun, but if your goal is to improve, drilling (alone or with a group) is a great way to drastically improve your pickleball skills and ultimately, get you more wins on the court. In fact, some of the world’s top professionals don’t play any recreational pickleball games. If they aren’t on the main stage of pickleball they tend to stick to perfecting their pickleball craft with drills. Do you want to drill like the professionals? Below is a list of pickleball drills that you can use to perfect your game, alone or with friends.
Let’s start with what you will need to start your drilling. First, a pickleball paddle that fits your playing style. Unsure which paddle will work for you? Try our Paddle Coach or read our comprehensive Paddle Buying Guide to find out which paddle is best for you.
Other than a perfect pickleball paddle, you’ll need some pickleballs to get your drilling journey started. We’ve got you covered with that as well! At JustPaddles, we have 3 packs, 12 packs, and even 100 packs of the game's top pickleball brands. We’ve also found that getting colored tape can be helpful down the road.
So, what skills can you learn from drilling that will take your game to the next level? Almost any shot you take during gameplay can be replicated in a practice setting. Serves, dinks, third shot drops, ATPs; you name it, there is a drill to help you master it. Below are the first five drills that we recommend you try with a partner.
Your Complete Guide to Pickleball Drills: 5 Key Drills to Know
Pickleball is won with your toes on the kitchen line and in order to stack up wins, you have to practice all shots in the kitchen. Start with a partner at the kitchen line (looking directly at each other) and work on dinks. Starting with your forehand, gently lift the ball and land it softly in the opposite kitchen. You and your partner can go back and forth and try to see how many you can get without messing up! Once you have worked on the forehand, have one partner step towards the middle kitchen line and the other partner put your toes on the side out line. Now, practice your backhand to one another, still on the same side of the court. This will help one partner practice dinks to the middle while one focuses on dinks to the side. PRO TIP - While doing this drill, put different shape (spin) on the ball as well as some shots with a zero or no spin.
Now that you have drilled with dinks on the same side of the court, it's time to practice your cross-court dinks – a very common shot while on the kitchen line that can set you or your partner up for slams and put-away shots. To practice these set-up shots, set you and your partner on the kitchen line, on opposite sides of the court. For example, when you set up for this drill you will be looking at your drilling partner out of the corner of your eye. Practice dinking the ball cross-court into the kitchen and then switch sides so both you and your partner get a mix of backhand and forehand. Occasionally, test your abilities on an ATP, “Around the Post,” as this is typically how a player is able to get an ATP shot.
Third Shot Drop and Return
One of the more crucial shots in the game of pickleball is the third shot drop. To win more games on the court you need to practice and perfect the third shot drop. To practice, have one player stand on the backline and one on the opposite kitchen line. The player on the kitchen line should hit the ball to the partner on the backline. The driller on the backline should attempt to return the ball and land it in the kitchen, thus executing the third shot drop. This isn’t just for the driller on the backline though, the driller at the kitchen will try and return the ball deep back into the driller’s area. Continue this drill until you have your third shot landing gently in the kitchen and your partner is able to return the ball deep into the other driller’s zone. Because this shot gets you to the kitchen line, it is one of the best ways to get better at pickleball.
Serve and Return
Don’t forget that you can’t win a single point without a serve. Some players prefer to go for the ace while others focus on just getting the ball in play - that is up to you. Whatever your serving goal, it is still key to practice your serve. To do a serving drill, all you have to do is serve and have your partner return your serve. Send the serve and the return deep towards the backline. This will improve your serve and return of serve.
Not everyone is ready to get to drilling, so it can sometimes be hard to find a partner. Don’t worry, there are plenty of drills that can be done on your own. And the best part of drilling alone? Your competition doesn’t know that you are getting better and better!
One of the best pickleball drills requires just you, a paddle, a ball, and a wall. There are many adaptations of this drill but to make it easy, get close to the wall and see how many times you can hit the ball against the wall in a row. This will help with hand-eye-coordination, paddle awareness, and quick hands at the net. You can literally do it anywhere that has a wall! If you are finding yourself doing this more often, upgrade the drill with some tape on your wall. Mark the net line (34-36” high) and desired shot selections with X’s. Practice getting the ball over “the net” and hitting your shots that are marked with X’s.
Here’s a look at one of our favorite customer’s drilling stations (cough cough, basement).
We hope that these drills allow you to become a better pickleball player in a relatively short amount of time. If your goal is to improve, get down with dinks and drills and see your pickleball game (and DUPR rating) go up. Follow the professionals’ lead and start drilling today with one or all of the pickleball drills outlined above.
There you have it! We hope that this comprehensive guide on pickleball drills will help take your game to the next level. If you have any additional questions or are in the market for a new pickleball paddle, don't hesitate to contact our Paddle Experts at 866-382-3465, email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can click here to live chat. Don't forget, we're JustPaddles and we'll be here for you from Click To Court!