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9 Essential Pickleball Drills for Skill Development

9 Essential Pickleball Drills for Skill Development

While pickleball is especially popular because it is accessible and easy to learn, truly mastering the game takes dedication and practice. Developing advanced skills on the pickleball court is an ongoing process, and one of the most effective ways to improve is through structured drills. These exercises can help players of all levels refine techniques, sharpen strategies, and outperform opponents. 

Dink Control Drill

Focus on consistency and control by practicing dinking back and forth with a partner. Start close to the net and gradually increase the distance as you get more comfortable and improve. The goal is to keep the ball low over the net and maintain a steady rhythm. 

Third Shot Drop Drill (the third shot drop is when the serving team hits back the return of serve softly into the opposing team’s kitchen)

Work on your third-shot drop, a crucial shot in pickleball, by practicing with a partner. Start at the baseline and aim to drop the ball softly into the opponent's kitchen (non-volley zone). Focus on accuracy and placement rather than power.

Volleys at the Net Drill

Improve your reflexes and reaction time by volleying with a partner at the net. Alternate forehand and backhand volleys, aiming to keep the ball controlled and directed towards your opponent's feet, without letting the ball bounce.

Sideline-to-Sideline Drill

Develop your footwork and court coverage by hitting shots from sideline to sideline. Move quickly and efficiently to reach each ball, focusing on maintaining balance and control while on the move. 

Cross-Court Dinking Drill

Practice cross-court dinks with a partner to improve your ability to place shots accurately and keep your opponent off balance. Stand just behind the kitchen line and alternate between forehand and backhand dinks, aiming to hit the ball with as much cross court angle as possible, aiming for the partner's sideline. How low can you keep your shot and still clear the net?

Serve and Return Drill

Work on your serve and return skills by taking turns serving and returning with a partner. Experiment with different types of serves, such as deep serves, short serves, and spin serves, while adjusting your return to see what works best. Have your partner give you feedback about which serves are hardest to return.

Attack and Defend Drill

Simulate real game scenarios by alternating between offensive and defensive positions with a partner. Work on transitioning smoothly from offensive shots like drives and smashes to defensive maneuvers such as blocks and lobs, and vice versa.

Ladder Drill

Incorporate ladder drills into your pickleball training routine to boost speed and agility. Lay a rope ladder down on the court and step in and out of the boxes as quickly as you can. Practice forward, backward, and sideways stepping. Focus on footwork patterns and quick transitions between steps to improve mobility on the court. 

Cone Drill

Arrange cones in various formations and practice weaving through them, executing quick turns, and swiftly changing directions to simulate movements on the court. 

Although improvement in pickleball, like any sport, takes time, dedication, and consistent effort, there are additional steps you can take to speed up your progress. Practice with purpose and stay open to learning, and you’ll be thriving on the court in no time.

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