Getting better at any activity is a matter of regular practice and drilling. We understand that drills can be quite boring because you’re drilling the same shot a million times, but that’s exactly what you need because it helps train muscle memory. The more you drill, the more efficient you’ll be.
That being said, we’re going to teach you a few drills that will help take your pickleball playing to the next level even if you don’t have a pickleball pal with you. All you need to practice the following drills is a paddle and a wall. The park in my neighborhood has a tennis court with a solid wall on each end where I practice these drills. When it gets too hot for me (or cold for the upper half), an indoor gym is perfect. Let’s jump right into it.
Forehand and Backhand Groundstrokes
This is a beginner drill that requires you to start with forehand shots that allow the ball to bounce between each hit. Ideally, you want to stand about 6 feet away from the wall. To make each shot easier, you must hit high on the wall as softly as possible.
As you improve, you can move further from the wall then gradually start hitting lower and harder. The same applies for backhand shots.
Lastly, you want to alternate between forehand and backhand shots.
Forehand and Backhand Volley Shots
In this beginner drill, grab your paddle and start with forehand shots where you need to hit up on the ball without adding too much force. You need to be aiming at a high point on the wall.
As you feel more confident with this drill, move away from the wall then increase tempo and power. Now it’s time for backhand shots.
Once you’ve got both your forehand and backhand shots mastered, you want to start alternating shots. Steer your forehand shots to the left and your backhand shots to the right.
In order to step up your directional accuracy, experts recommend using a blocking paddle movement rather than a swinging paddle movement.
The paddle face shouldn’t rotate. It has to stay on a straight track.
Alternating Groundstrokes Imparting Spin
This is an intermediate pickleball drill where you need to alternate forehand and backhand shots with a spin.
As you get better, move away from the wall and start hitting the ball harder. Here’s a simple tutorial on how to spin a pickleball:
Short Hop Shots to the Feet
This drill is a little tricky because shots that land at your feet tend to be hard to return.
To do this, you need to stand on a line and try to hit shots that land on or close to the line.
Your return shots should be angled up sharply to clear the net.
It sounds pretty simple, but it takes time to master.
Forehand and Backhand Dink Shots
Start with forehand shots only and try to steer the ball to the left and right in alternately.
Next, do the same with your backhand shots and maintain the same steering pattern.
Remember to keep using a blocking paddle motion in order to achieve better directional accuracy, so make sure the paddle face is pointed towards the target.
Also, don’t change the angle until you drive the shots.
Got that figured out?
Now start alternating between forehand and backhand shots.
Now that you’re done with your dink shots, we’d recommend doing volley shots using the same steering motion. Start out with forehand shots while alternating to the left and right, then do the same with your backhand shots. Following that, alternate between forehand and backhand.
Forehand and Backhand Lob Shots
Assuming you’ve reached an intermediate level with your drilling, it’s time to practice some lobs.
The best lob shots are usually issued from near the net and they often take place during dinking.
Your lobs shouldn’t be excessively high. They need to be high enough to prevent smashing.
As per usual, start with forehand shots only then backhand shots only, and then alternate between the two.
Taking Speed Off Fast Balls
Congratulations, you’re now stepping into some more advanced drills.
Fast balls can be tricky to control, that’s why you need to master how to take speed off the ball.
You need to hit one or two fast balls and then try to drink the third ball to the wall.
Try doing so with forehand and backhand shots.
Your goal is to convert an incoming speedy ball into an outgoing dink shot.
Volley Shots to Surprise Lobs
The next thing you want to practice doing os how to convert a fast incoming volley into a lob so that you can throw off your opponent.
You do that by hitting a bunch of high-speed volley shots and then following them with an outgoing surprise lob shot.
Dink Shots to Surprise Lobs
When practicing dink shots, you want to incorporate a disguise lob shot between your shots.
It’s all about the element of surprise. Simply, hit a few dink shots and then send a lob or a body shot without any indicating that you’re going to do so with your body.
There’s no end to how many drills you can do to improve your playing. However, the drills above should help you ascend the ladder in a short period of time. Remember, practice makes perfect.