To become a skilled pickleball player at the 4.0+ level, it takes not only numerous matches but also purposeful practice. Achieving a skill rating of 4.0+ is a significant accomplishment in the pickleball world. If you aspire to reach this level or further improve your skills, here are the top four drills recommended for 4.0+ pickleball players, brought to you by PrimeTime Pickleball.
|4 Pickleball Drills for Advanced Players (Skill Level 4.0+)|
Drill #1 - Pressure-Packed Pickleball
As the saying goes, "pressure bursts pipes." In pickleball matches, sometimes the key to gaining an advantage is to apply relentless pressure on your opponent, hitting powerful shots and keeping them on their toes. This drill is designed to help you learn how to handle and deliver pressure effectively.
How to Do It
Find a training partner and position yourselves on opposite halves of the court. One player stands at the baseline as they would during a serve, while the other stands on the opposite side near the kitchen or non-volley zone (NVZ) line. The server starts by hitting the ball with maximum power and speed towards the kitchen player, who must return the serve before it bounces.
This drill has two main objectives. Firstly, the server aims to advance to the kitchen line through well-placed hits and volleys. Secondly, the kitchen player's goal is to keep the server at bay for as long as possible. To achieve this, the kitchen player can return the ball deep and direct it at the server's feet. After the serve and return, both players should continue the point by hitting the ball cross-court.
The drill helps you develop the ability to handle pressure and apply it to your advantage. To make the practice more comprehensive, switch serving sides and practice returning serves from both ends of the baseline. The first player to score 11 points wins the drill.
Drill #2 - The Terminator
Similar to the previous drill, the Terminator focuses on drilling the ball, but this time during the third shot.
How to Do It
Maintain the same positions as the Pressure-Packed Pickleball drill, with one player at the baseline and the other at the NVZ line. The NVZ player feeds a high and attackable ball to the baseline player, simulating a weak return. The baseline player steps in and drives the ball towards the NVZ player, mimicking an offensive third-shot drive that you might use in an actual game. Then, the point is played out from there.
The player executing the third-shot drive should aim to keep the ball low over the net and maintain an aggressive approach to win the point. The player at the net must neutralize the initial aggressive shot, volleying the ball down towards their opponent's feet. The objective for the baseline player is to stay aggressive and continue moving forward, while the net player's goal is to counteract the aggressiveness and keep their opponent from advancing.
Drill #3 - Slam Blocker
In this drill, you and your partner will work on handling powerful overhead slams and put-aways effectively
How to Do It
Instead of being positioned diagonally across the net, this time, both players will be on the same side of the court, either the left or right side. However, you will still be on opposite sides of the net. The player at the baseline starts by hitting a high lob to the player near the NVZ line, creating a setup for an overhead slam or put-away shot.
The player at the NVZ line must try their best to slam the ball and score a point.
The baseline player's goal is to defend against the opponent's powerful slam and return the ball back successfully. After the slam attempt, the point should be played out, with both players trying to score. The net player's objective is to apply intense pressure on the baseline player and attempt to win the point with their slam.
Play to 11 points and then switch roles, so both players have a chance to practice their defensive and offensive skills.
Drill #4 - Mid-Court Challenge
So far, we've focused on drills for the NVZ line and the baseline, but the mid-court area deserves attention too. The mid-court is the space between the NVZ line and the baseline. Although you may not find yourself in this position frequently during a game, it's crucial to improve your skills for those situations when they arise.
How to Do It
Position one player near the NVZ line and the other player on the opposite side around mid-court (MC). The MC player initiates the drill by softly dropping the ball in the kitchen area, simulating a third-shot drop shot you might encounter in a real game. The player at the NVZ line should be aggressive, aiming to score a point by hitting the ball with topspin and targeting the feet of the MC player. At the same time, the MC player must do their best to defend and return the shot. The point is then played out as usual.
The main objective of this drill is to intentionally put yourself (as the MC player) in a challenging position, where you have to defend against low shots near your feet. Though uncomfortable, practicing this scenario helps you be better prepared for such situations during a game.
Similarly, the goal for the NVZ line player is to execute the shot precisely, making it difficult for the MC player to defend effectively. When your opponent finds themselves in the mid-court area, hitting this kind of shot can keep them off-balance and potentially lead to scoring a point or setting up a favourable situation for the rest of the volley.
These drills, presented by Prime Time Pickleball, are valuable additions to your practice routine. Incorporating these exercises into your training will enhance your pickleball skills and overall game performance. For more detailed instructions and visual representation, we encourage you to watch the video provided by Prime Time Pickleball. So get out on the court, have fun, and take your pickleball game to the next level!