Playing pickleball with friends is always fun, but sometimes the best way to improve is simply to buckle down and work on drills. They can be repetitive, but if you focus on proper techniques during training, the same movements become second nature in competitive play.
So if you’re stuck at home right now, don’t let your skills get rusty! Get in the zone and hone your abilities so you’ll emerge better than ever when you reunite with fellow players.
The first video we have with pro player Glen Peterson is ideal for those who don’t have a lot of space and want simple but effective ideas for strengthening their game.
The others we’ve included make use of ball machines so you can work on a wider variety of skills, although if you don’t have enough room or budget for a ball machine, you can recruit a family member to send pickleballs your way instead!
Solo Wall Drills
In this video Glen shows how anyone can use a pickleball, paddle and wall to greatly improve consistency and accuracy. You’ll also want some brightly colored tape to mark off your target(s). You can start simple by attempting to hit 10 shots in the same place, then stretch it out to 100! These drills are simple in theory but difficult to master. Work on both forehand and backhand hits to become a more versatile player.
Tight quarters with these drills can actually be beneficial, as they’ll improve your reaction time when playing at the kitchen.
Third Shot Drive & 5th Shot Drop
Pickleball champ Simone Jardim uses a Tutor Machine to show how you can work a third shot drive into your game—a technique that has a high percentage of success so you can get to the NVZ in a controlled manner. The goal here isn’t to charge forwards, but to methodically move closer to the kitchen with each strike. You keep opponents on their back foot so you can get into a more advantageous position.
Simone recommends setting up targets for an easier visual reference. You can use brightly colored objects around your house, or work with tape, court lines or target rings.
This is another drill that looks easy but requires a good amount of adjustment if you tend to tighten up when you see incoming volleys. By adjusting the grip on your paddle and softening your hands, you can completely take the power out of fast balls and set yourself up for a more controlled exchange at the kitchen. This is a great move to work into your arsenal if you’re tired of “bangers” and want to be able to reduce their dominance on the court. Instead of counterattacking, you’ll learn to reset the ball at your own pace.
You’ll want to prepare more court markers for this drill. The idea is to hit in an area where your opponent won’t be able to use their forehand and have access to a more aggressive play. Pay attention to your footwork as you get closer to the net before allowing yourself to put the ball away.
Recovery on Lobs
Lobs annoy many players almost as much as slams, but you don’t have to remain at their mercy. Work on body placement to retain vision and move backwards safely, which will allow you to return a shot much like the third-shot drop into the kitchen. Your opponent won’t be able to steal a free point and you’ll have more time to get back to the net.
What are some exercises and drills that have helped you take your game to the next level? Sometimes the simplest techniques are the most effective and we’d love to hear your input!