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11 Beginners Drills to Improve Your Pickleball Skills

Pickleball is a great sport for anyone who wants to have fun and stay fit. But if you want to take your game to the next level, you need to practice more than just playing matches. You need to work on specific aspects of your game that will make you a better player.

In this article, we will show you 11 pickleball drills that are perfect for beginners who want to improve their skills and enjoy pickleball even more. These drills will help you with your hand-eye coordination, your accuracy, your control, your dinking, your volleying, and more.

You can do some of these drills by yourself, but others require a partner or a group of players. Let's get started!

11 Beginners Drills to Improve Your Pickleball Skills
11 Beginners Drills to Improve Your Pickleball Skills

Drill #1 - Learn How Your Paddle Works


The first drill is very simple, but it can help you a lot with your pickleball game. All you need is a pickleball ball and your paddle. The goal is to hit the ball up in the air and keep it from falling to the ground. This drill will help you improve your hand-eye coordination and also teach you how different parts of your paddle affect the ball.




Try to hit the ball with different parts of your paddle, such as the sides, the bottom, and the middle. You will notice that the ball behaves differently depending on where you hit it. The best part of your paddle to hit the ball is the sweet spot, which is the middle part. The sweet spot gives you the most power and control over the ball.

Try to hit the ball with the sweet spot as much as possible and remember how it feels. This will help you develop muscle memory and hit the ball better during matches.

Drill #2 - Aim for the Target

Another drill that you can do by yourself is to find a wall that you can use as a target. Make sure the wall is not too fragile or valuable, as you don't want to damage it. Draw a line 36 inches from the bottom of the wall to represent the net height. Then draw one or more squares on the wall or use tape to mark them. The size of the squares can vary depending on your skill level.

Stand a few feet away from the wall and hit the ball into the square. Let the ball bounce once before hitting it again. The goal is to hit the square as many times in a row as possible. You can try it from different angles and distances.

This drill will help you practice your forehand shots and also improve your accuracy and consistency.




Drill #3 - Dinking in the Kitchen

Now, let’s get you and your partner on a court to improve your dinking game. If you don’t have a partner, you can still practice this drill, but you’ll need a bucket of balls, a wall, or some tools to help you.

For this drill, each player stands on their own side of the net, on opposite sides of the kitchen lines (non-volley zone lines). Practice trading dink shots with the goal of keeping the ball inside each other’s kitchen.

Dinking is a soft shot that barely goes over the net and lands in the opponent's kitchen. It is a very important skill in pickleball, as it can help you control the pace of the game and force your opponent to make a mistake.

This drill will help you improve your forehand and backhand dinks and also teach you how to control the ball better and land it consistently just over the net.

Drill #4 - Practice Your Volley

For this drill, you’ll want to stand at the kitchen line and practice volleying the ball (not allowing it to touch the ground) back and forth. The goal is not to score or send a shot flying but to focus on getting lift under the ball without letting it bounce on the ground.

A volley is a shot that you hit in the air before the ball bounces. It is a very effective way to put pressure on your opponent and win points. However, you need to be careful not to hit the ball into the net or out of bounds.

This drill will help you improve your volleying skills and also teach you how to hit the ball with the right angle and speed.




Drill #5 - Catch the Ball, Then Volley

A big part of pickleball is being able to “catch” the ball with your paddle. No, this isn’t like baseball, where you are actually catching the ball. Instead, you are deadening the shot that’s coming at you by allowing the ball to hit the paddle without putting force behind it.

If this type of shot is done correctly, it should produce a little pop-up that you can then hit back to your partner. They should then catch the ball before volleying it back to you. Your goal is to get a better feel for the ball and improve your handling.

Drill #6 - One in the Kitchen

In this drill, have one person stand at the baseline and the other stand on the opposite kitchen line. The person on the baseline should drive the ball while the person on the kitchen line returns it. Don’t focus on scoring but on making solid contact.

This is a great time to practice hitting the ball with the sweet spot of your paddle. Notice how the ball doesn’t go exactly where you want it to when you miss the sweet spot. After a few rounds, switch so that the other person is on the baseline or in the kitchen.



Drill #7 - Transition Zone Blocking

Now, instead of the baseline, have one person stand about halfway between the baseline and the kitchen line on the opposite side of the court. The other person should stand in the opposite kitchen.

The goal here is to have the person in the transition zone drive the ball fairly hard toward the person in the kitchen. The person in the kitchen should focus on blocking (letting the ball hit the paddle instead of swinging your paddle at the ball) so the ball falls just over the net. This drop drill teaches finesse and is often used by advanced players as part of team strategy.

Drill #8 - Drive it Back

Use the same drill above, but instead of blocking the ball, the person in the kitchen should drive it back toward their opponent on a volley. This simulates times in a game when your opponent has driven it hard at you but then leaves a gap open by charging the net. A well-timed drive return shot can score you a point or help you win a rally against offensive pickleball players.



Drill #9 - Drop it Like It’s Hot

One of the best shots you can develop in pickleball is a good drop shot. What you’re trying to do is hit a shot from the baseline with your pickleball paddle that falls into your opponent’s kitchen.

To practice this drill, put one person at the baseline and the other at the kitchen line. The person from the kitchen should drive the ball back to the person at the baseline of the pickleball court, who then hits a drop shot at the person in the kitchen.

Drill #10 - Who’s Driving This Thing?

Similar to the drop, there’s also the drive shot. The goal of this shot is to hit the ball with speed and force your opponent to respond quickly.

Have both players stand at opposite baselines and practice driving the ball back and forth to each other. Try to move each other around, hitting some forehand and backhand shots. This will help improve your reaction time and footwork on the court the more you do it.




Drill #11 - Drive or Drop?

Now, we combine the two drills. The third-shot drop or drive are important elements in anyone’s pickleball game. You want to be able to perform both whenever you need them. The goal of this drill is to recognize the best time to drive it versus drop it.

If the ball lands short in front of you, you probably want to drive it. If it’s long, you may want to drop it instead. Ultimately, this drill is about getting a feel for what you like while improving your performance for both types of shots.

Conclusion

There are a lot of skill drills that can help you in your quest to get better at the game of pickleball. Practicing and becoming a good all-around player is critical so that the most important shots are ones that you can execute with confidence and consistency. We hope you enjoyed these 11 pickleball drills and that they will help you improve your game and have more fun on the court.
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