At times, you may find yourself wanting to improve your pickleball skills with some pickleball-specific drills. Most of the time, you likely can find someone to drill or play with by visiting your local pickleball courts—pickleball players are more abundant than ever, as the game as grown about 21% over last year. But, for those rare times when you are on your own, with no other pickleball player in sight (and, assuming that you do not have a ball machine, which can be a bit of an investment), there are some pickleball drills that you can do on your own with a wall. This pickleball blog will break down some pickleball drills that you can do alone to up your skills, including pickleball wall drills for dinks, volleys, drives and overheads, as well as drills to improve your hand and paddle speed.
HOW TO SET UP FOR PICKLEBALL WALL DRILLS
For the do-it-yourself pickleball drills, all you need is:
- A practice wall (and a few pieces of tape);
- Your pickleball paddle; and
- A pickleball (and, maybe, a table tennis ball (also known as a ping pong ball) – more on this below).
Any wall will do for these do-it-yourself pickleball drills (including a dedicated pickleball practice wall, a racquetball wall, or any other wall that is about 5 to 6 feet high). In order to visualize the pickleball net on the wall, grab some painter’s tape or other tape and tape off a section of the wall. Place a piece of tape horizontally, with the top of the tape at 34 inches high. This piece of tape will mimic the top of the pickleball net. Then, grab two more pieces of tape.
One piece of tape will be used to outline the top of your target space. This is because you want to keep your target relatively low to the top of the “pickleball net,” as you want to keep your shots low. If you pop up your shots, you will create an easy put away shot for your opponents, who will likely be standing just on the other side of the Non-Volley Zone (or Kitchen). So, practice the way you want to play, and work on keeping your shots relatively low over the pickleball net.
The last piece of tape will be used to mimic the Non-Volley Zone (or Kitchen) line. As a reminder, it is important to stay out of the Kitchen when volleying the pickleball.
Once you have your wall taped/marked, grab your pickleball and pickleball paddle, and let’s dive into the DIY pickleball drills…
PICKLEBALL DRILLS TO DO ALONE
When working with a wall, you can do a variety of drills to work on different shots that you use on the pickleball court. Whether you are working on dinks, volleys, drops, drives, overheads, etc., be sure focus on your pickleball hitting techniques and fundamentals. For instance, pay particular attention to your footwork, and always try to hit the pickleball out in front of your body.
PICKLEBALL DINKING DRILLS TO DO ALONE
Stand at the “imaginary” Non-Volley Zone line. Practice dinking straight on in between the two horizontal pieces of tape on the wall in front of you. Remember to focus on your footwork and hitting the pickleball out in front of your body. Also, try to take the pickleball out of the air (rather than off of the bounce) when you can. This will help you take away time from your opponents.
Do as many forehand dinks as you can. Then, do as many backhand dinks as you can. Then, try alternating between forehand and backhand dinks.
DO-IT-YOURSELF PICKLEBALL VOLLEY DRILLS
Once you have the dinks down, move on to volleys. Start at the Kitchen Line and follow the same pattern. Do as many forehand volleys as you can. Then, try as many backhand volleys as you can. Then, alternate between forehands and backhands.
Try moving toward the wall to work on improving your hand speed. As you move toward the wall, your reaction time will decrease, so you will challenge yourself to move faster. It will be especially difficult to switch between your forehand and backhand, so you may find yourself hitting more backhands in order to keep up. Also, try moving away from the wall to work on taking shots that are a bit further. This may require a bit more power on your swing in order to keep the pickleball in the air and above your imaginary net.
PICKLEBALL DRIVE DRILLS & PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
Now, move back several feet from the Non-Volley Zone line and, again, follow the same pattern. Do as many forehand drives as you can. Then, try as many backhand drives as you can. Then, alternate between forehand drives and backhand drives.
The pickleball may lose some steam (i.e., power) after the second drive. As a result, be sure to follow your drive and continue moving toward the wall. You can even try playing out the rally and mixing in some volleys and dinks as you move all the way in the Non-Volley Zone line. Once you have played out your rally, move back and start again.
OVERHEAD PICKLEBALL DRILLS TO DO ALONE
Now, it is time to work on your overhead. Start at the Kitchen line and hit the pickleball high off of the wall. Drop step with your paddle-side foot and side shuffle until you are under the pickleball. It is important that you do not backpedal, as backpedaling may result in a fall or injury.
As you move back to get under the pickleball, be sure to use your non-paddle hand to point at the pickleball and lay your pickleball paddle back by your ear. Initially, use your non-paddle hand to simply catch the pickleball. This will help you focus initially on your footwork and technique to track the pickleball.
Once you are ready, do the same drill, but instead of catching the pickleball, strike the pickleball with your paddle. Be sure to hit the pickleball out front and above your imaginary net on the wall. Once you hit your overhead, continue to play out the rally, incorporating your drives, volleys, and dinks.
ADVANCED PICKLEBALL WALL DRILL – GRAB A TABLE TENNIS BALL
To amp up the pickleball wall drills, grab a table tennis ball (also known as a ping pong ball). Use your pickleball paddle to volley the table tennis ball. Repeat the same volley drills discussed above and challenge yourself to get as close to the wall as possible.
Using a table tennis ball will really challenge your hand speed and ability to react because the table tennis ball is much smaller and much lighter, so it will move faster than a pickleball—meaning even less reaction time. Also, since the table tennis ball is smaller, it will be more difficult to track—in other words, you will need more concentration to work on your ball tracking abilities.
NO EXCUSE NOT TO IMPROVE YOUR PICKLEBALL SKILLS
There are some limitations to these pickleball drills, as they are limited to shots that are straight on. It is difficult to practice crosscourt shots or shots with angles when using a wall to practice. It is also difficult to practice drop shots (as there is not much power back to you), and there really is no pressure or competitive element when practicing with a wall—unless you can mentally engage and put that pressure on yourself.
Further, some of these pickleball wall drills may seem like beginner pickleball drills. They may be—but, they are also drills for any pickleball player at any level.
With that said, sometimes the most basic drills are the most important. And, if you find yourself alone, these are great pickleball drills that you can do to work on your skills. You can also take time to do some non-pickleball-specific training, like cardio, fitness, weight training, footwork skills (such as ladder work), etc. So, there is no excuse for not being able to improve at pickleball.
Hopefully, you do not have many days alone practicing with a wall, but rather, more days on the pickleball court with friends, drilling partners (check out Pickler’s pickleball blog for pickleball drills with a drill partner), or a pickleball machine.
WANT MORE PICKLEBALL TIPS AND DRILLS?
If you want more pickleball tips and drills on every aspect of your pickleball game, check out Pickler’s online video lesson collection called My Pro Pickleball Coach. My Pro Pickleball Coach is a fraction of the price of one clinic or even one lesson, and features over 140 video lessons (over 7 hours of instruction!), as well as a corresponding e-book. These online video lessons are available on demand 24/7 and breakdown every aspect of the sport of pickleball, including pickleball drills, strategy, and advanced concepts, so you will play your best pickleball.