Drills and Exercises

We pulled these drills from various websites.

1. Wall Drills

To run wall drills, you need to decide the type of shot you want to practice. For instance, if you’d like to practice your underhand swing, stand about twenty feet from the wall and practice your pendulum swing to work on your swing and connection techniques.

Also, move around as well as take the shots from several angles. Once your accuracy gets higher, try to move the target as well to a more challenging position.

Alternatively you can keep the ball in the air after hitting the target and continue to hit it back to the wall in the air as you get closer to the wall. Now try doing it by switching back and forth between forehand and backhand.

Now vary your shots:

  • Start hitting it high up the wall and let it go lower and lower (and faster and faster)

  • Focus on back hand for a while

  • Switch to fore hand.

  • Switch back and forth between fore hand and back hand.

2. Serving Drills

Practicing your serve is essential for beginner players. At first, it can be really difficult to land your serves where you want them to go. Serving drills can be done alone as well but are more fun if you work with a partner and combine serving with returning volleys and other parts of the game. You can use the wall for serving drills, which allows you to repeat serve after serve. Even though that is what a drill is, it can get boring to hit balls at the walls. You can mix up this drill by using an empty court as well.

3. Volley accuracy drill

Simply mark a square or spot on the wall using tape. Then, standing just outside the kitchen, see how many times you can hit the target. After a little bit of practice, you may be amazed at how quickly your accuracy improves! Don’t forget to move around and take your shot from different angles, and feel free to move the target once your accuracy gets high.

 

4. Forehand/backhand volley

Stand at least seven feet from a wall (that’s a kitchen size away, in case you’re wondering). When you’re ready to begin, serve to the wall with a forehand shot, as you would when it’s your turn to serve in a real pickleball game. Then, when the ball bounces back, hit it back to the wall using a backhand shot. Continue until you miss.

These fast-paced drill will help you improve both the speed and the accuracy of your groundstrokes. If you can, use tape to mark a net line on the wall for even greater accuracy and more realistic practice.

5. Legwork Practice

While most pickleball practice focuses on your shots, serves and other armwork, it’s important not to forget about your legs. When you’re practicing pickleball alone, take some time to work on your leg movements for when you’re back on the court.

Even though you can’t easily practice dinking alone, you can practice the lateral movements needed in the non-volley zone. Dinking is crucial as you begin to advance as a pickleball player, so don’t underestimate the impact this practice can have. You can improve your kitchen play by practicing your lateral movements – a pickleball practice that you can do absolutely anywhere!

6. Five-Minute Volley Drills

The entire goal of this drill to spend at least five minutes with the ball in the air, never touching the ground. 

7. Reflex training

Both you and your partner will be standing at the kitchen line just like usual. Dink back and forth as you normally would, but don’t do anything too crazy. Out of nowhere, bang a hard drive right at your partner. His job in this drill is to calmly block the shot successfully but to also not pop it up.

Pop-ups happen a lot in pickleball. A hard ball will be coming right at you and if you’re not ready, you’re toast!

This drill will help to train your reflexes, but also your ability to block the shot softly and confidently.

If you have a bucket of balls at your disposal, you can do this drill a bit differently. Instead of dinking back and forth, you can just hit soft shots to your partner without returning them. Then, without warning them, bang one at them. But don’t make it obvious! The more subtle it is, the more effective the training will be for your partner.

Things to remember:

The most important element to understand when blocking hard drives is to have your paddle up and in front of you. Having your paddle up in the ready position is one of the basic fundamentals of pickleball. It will help you to position your paddle correctly when the shot is coming. So when you’re doing this drill, be consciously aware of that.

Also, if you’re having trouble popping up the balls, make sure you loosen up your grip. This will let the paddle absorb most of the force, instead of your hand and arm which will remove some of the power. Additionally, you can try removing your pinky finger from your paddle grip. I’ve seen some of my students do that with great success.

This drill can lead to some body shots, so consider wearing eye protection if that’s a concern for you or your partner.

8. Diagonal kitchen volley, cross-court dinks

Set up diagonally across the kitchen. Now each of you stay generally where you are and play diagonally across to each other. Play both forehand and back hand. Then switch sides so you are both on the left. See how many times you can get it over the net.

Next, each person starts moving along the kitchen line and dinking to where the other player is, eventually ending up on the other end of the kitchen.  Move back and forth like this along the kitchen line.

9. Third shot drop and returns

One player will stand at the baseline and the other at the kitchen line just like it would be in a real game. The person at the kitchen will feed balls to the person at the baseline who will then attempt the third shot drop.

This is a very repetitive drill, but for good reason. The whole purpose here is to train muscle memory. Force yourself to do 50-100 of these and you’re destined to get better at it. It’s best if you bring a bunch of balls with you. If you hit it into the net, your partner can just pull out another ball to keep going and save time.

If you’re receiving…

This isn’t just a drill for the player doing the drop shots. It’s also a drill for the player at the net.

You’re not just feeding the balls to the player. You’re working on hitting your returns to the net Or, if the drop shot is too good, then you’re working on dinking it back over.

10. Dink Warm-Up Drills

In this drill, two players on opposite sides of the net use only dink shots for a set amount of time, usually two to five minutes. Both sides should want to keep the volley going, but only using dink shots.

11. Dink versus Dink Games

This is another great way to drill, taking the timed dink warm-up drill, and extending it for a whole game or to a set amount of points. Both players can use only the dink shot, including to serve the ball.

You can set higher challenges to make it more interesting, like not allowing kill shots until after the fourth dink. 

12. The Dink Lob Drill

The Dink-Lob is an advanced drill that requires four players to execute well. To do this drill, all players stand at the non-volley line and dink the ball for several shots (usually four to six) before the designated lobber connects with a lob shot.

After the lob, the volley stops and repeats with another person as the lobber. There are few ways to change this drill up or give it a fresh face. You can alter the number of hits before the lob, but it gets hard to follow when each player must dink more than once in a round.

Videos and other websites: