At Rhino Pickleball, we believe you're never too good to take some time to hone your skills. We've gathered some essential pickleball skills and the drills you can do to further improve those skills.
Whether you're a seasoned player, a beginner or just looking to prepare for the next friendly backyard match, these pickleball drills will help you improve your game one skill at a time.
Hand-Eye Coordination Drills
You need to have fast reflexes in pickleball, but those reflexes will mean nothing if you can't successfully control the ball, paddle positioning and shots. These drills will help improve your hand-eye coordination and your reaction time, getting you more comfortable thinking and acting quickly.
The sweet spot: Hold your paddle parallel to the ground and drop your ball on top. Keep hitting the ball back up in the air and see how long you can keep it from hitting the ground. Hit the ball gently so it doesn't bounce too far from your paddle, and work on hitting the ball with the middle of your paddle for that sweet spot.
Hot hands: Stand at the kitchen line and have a partner feed hard pace balls to you from the baseline of the opposite side of the court. The harder pace will give you practice quickly getting your paddle in the correct position for the ball. If you don't have a partner for this one, you can still practice this drill by hitting your ball against a wall. Vary with soft and hard shots and move closer to the wall for faster returns.
These pickleball drills for dinking will help you maintain position, improve accuracy and enhance your overall dinking skills.
Don't cross the line: Set up some field cones 18 inches behind the Non-Volley Zone (NVZ). Practice hitting the ball while it's in front of you without giving up your position at the line. We recommend soft field cones for this drill, as they will collapse under you if you step on them, alleviating the risk of falling and injuring yourself.
Dinking with depth variation: Place three different colored cones within the NVZ, preferably with one of them just inside the NVZ line and another about 3.5 feet from the net. Create a pattern with the cones by changing the depth of each of your dinks. You can even have your partner call out specific patterns so you can replicate them with your dinks.
Triangle dinking: This partner drill is simple, though you can make it more complex as your dinking skills improve. Standing near the net, hit the ball from your right so the ball goes to your partner's left side. Have them return the same way, from their right to your left. This back and forth with a bounce between you creates a triangle pattern as you go. Once you get a good rhythm going, mix it up by hitting the ball in the center towards your partner or try different shots.
Accuracy and Stroke Consistency
Strategy plays a significant role in pickleball, but if your shot accuracy is off, your strategies are no good to you and your teammate. Try out these drills to improve your accuracy and stroke consistency.
Wall shot accuracy: Improve your shots by practicing hitting the ball in the same spot on a wall consistently. Use chalk or put a piece of tape on a wall at 34 inches high to simulate the center of the pickleball net. Next, make a box above the line you just made. Use court markers to designate a spot roughly 7 feet from the wall. From that point, hit the ball at the box and let it bounce back to you. Keep hitting it at that same spot and how many times you can hit it. Add some variation by practicing different shots to see if you can continue the accuracy.
Forehand and backhand volleys: You can also use the wall to practice your forehand and backhand volleys. For this drill, using the same seven-foot mark from earlier, serve the ball at the wall with a forehand shot. When it hits the wall and bounces, hit it back towards the wall with a backhand shot. Continue this routine until you miss it. Practicing quickly alternating between forehand and backhand strokes allows you to improve the accuracy of your groundstrokes.
Serving is one of the only times in the game when you get to decide when you hit the ball and where. Pickleball players should always be looking to improve their serving skills.
Deep targets: Set up a few rigid dome cones deep into the baseline on the opposite side of the court and practice serving balls to hit those cones. We prefer stiffer cones for this drill so you can hear that satisfying sound when you hit your mark. Remember to follow through with your paddle to point where you want the serve to go. Repetition is key with this drill so you can have accurate serves.
Serve, drive and drop: This drill requires you to hit a sequence of three shots against a wall. First, serve at full speed. When the ball bounces back to you, follow it up with a drive, and then a drop shot. When executing these shots, work on trying to hit the same spot on the wall every time.
Skinny Pickle or Skinny Singles
You'll need two players for skinny singles. You both start at the baseline on your right-hand side of the court, so you're playing crosscourt. A player serves, and the point is played out. If the server wins the point, they get to move to the other side of the court so the two of you are playing straight-on. Continue switching sides as each point is won.
Skinny singles is a popular drill because each player must return every shot, meaning those reflexes you've been practicing will come in handy! You're also limited to your designated side of the court for that point, so you have to focus your accuracy with each shot. The constant switching of sides allows players to practice their shots and serves from all angles. Skinny singles games let you use all the skills and strategies you've worked on in one game!
Elevate Your Pickleball Skills With Rhino Pickleball
Rhino Pickleball is all about offering quality pickleball equipment to current and aspiring players at an affordable price. No matter your skill level, our equipment is sure to help you score. We have everything you need from USA Pickleball Approved paddles and balls, to nets, court accessories and more.