Hand speed is paramount in pickleball as it directly influences a player’s ability to react swiftly to the fast-paced and dynamic nature of the game. In this sport, rallies can be lightning-quick at the Kitchen line, requiring split-second decisions and rapid paddle movements to return shots effectively. Whether it is reacting to powerful smashes, delicate dinks, or sudden changes in ball direction, pickleball players with enhanced hand speed have a significant advantage. As a result, improving and maximizing your hand speed will have a direct impact on your ability to make fast, precise shots and win more games on the pickleball court.
To enhance your hand speed on the pickleball court, try these two drills:
1. Rapid Volleys Drill
- To do this pickleball drill:
- Stand inside the Non-Volley Zone, with your partner in the Non-Volley Zone directly across the net from you. By standing about seven feet apart (instead of about fourteen feet if you and your partner were at the Kitchen Lines), you will cut down on your typical reaction time and work on speeding your paddle speed up.
- Volley the pickleball back and forth to one another. Try to keep the speed of the pickleball within reason so that you and your partner are able to hit the pickleball back and forth a number of times. To note, given the decreased time to react, most of the volleys will be hit with a backhand, but be ready to move your feet to hit a forehand volley if the opportunity presents itself.
- As you get more comfortable, try to challenge yourself by increasing the pace and intensive of your shots and/or alternating between forehand and backhand shots, trying to maintain a rapid rhythm.
- If you are able to react to and hit volleys inside the Kitchen, then you will be able to react to and hit volleys behind the Kitchen line. This pickleball drill will help you to improve your hand-eye coordination and hand speed, while also enhancing your control and precision.
2. Table Tennis Wall Drill
- To do this pickleball drill:
- Grab a table tennis ball (also known as a ping pong ball). Use your pickleball paddle to volley the table tennis ball against a wall above the net line (or imaginary net line).
- 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.
- 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.
Both of these drills are excellent for honing your hand speed and reflexes in pickleball. Incorporate them into your regular practice routine to improve your pickleball game. Practicing with a focus on hand speed will not only enhance your ability to react to fast-paced shots, but also improve your overall shot-making skills.
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