Pickleball is an exciting sport that has been gaining popularity in recent years. Combining elements of tennis, badminton, and ping pong, it offers a unique and enjoyable experience for players of all ages and skill levels.
It hardly matters whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned player. Incorporating drills and exercises into your training routine can help you improve your skills and enhance your performance on the pickleball court.
Here, we’ll explore a variety of pickleball drills and exercises that can take your game to the next level.
Before diving into the specific pickleball drills, it’s essential to warm up your body to prevent injuries and prepare yourself physically and mentally for the training session.
Proper warm-up sessions will also help you achieve improved results in pickleball. Moreover, you can use the pickleball skill level calculator to evaluate your skill in the game.
Here are a few warm-ups you can incorporate into your routine:
- Jogging or Jumping Jacks: Start with light jogging or jumping jacks to get your heart rate up and increase blood flow to your muscles.
- Arm Circles: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and extend your arms straight to the sides. Make small circles with your arms, gradually increasing the size of the circles. Repeat in the opposite direction.
- Leg Swings: Stand next to a wall or a sturdy object, swing one leg forward and backward, then sideways. Repeat with the other leg.
- Shoulder Rotations: Extend your arms out in front of you and rotate your shoulders in a circular motion, first forward and then backward.
Effective footwork is crucial for maintaining balance, agility, and positioning on the pickleball court. Unskilled footwork will decrease your skills and may be responsible for the most common pickleball injuries.
Here are a few footwork drills to enhance your movement skills:
- Side-to-Side Shuffle: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Shuffle quickly from side to side, staying light on your feet and maintaining proper form.
- Split-Step Drill: Begin by standing in the ready position with your feet shoulder-width apart. As your opponent hits the ball, perform a small jump and land with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart. This split step allows you to react quickly to the shot and move in the desired direction.
- Cross-Step Drill: Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart. Take a diagonal step forward and across with your lead foot, then quickly bring your trail foot forward to return to the starting position. Repeat on the other side.
Dinking is a delicate shot requiring control, balance, and delicacy. These drills focus on improving your dinking technique:
- Target Practice: Set up targets on the court using cones or towels. Stand on one side of the net and practice hitting soft, controlled shots, aiming for the targets on the opposite side. This drill helps you develop accuracy and control.
- Cross-Court Dinking: Stand at the kitchen line and dink back and forth with a partner diagonally across the net. Focus on keeping the ball low and in the kitchen while maintaining a consistent rhythm.
- Random Dinking: This drill involves dinking with a partner but adding variation to the shots. Practice different dink placements, speeds, and angles to simulate real-game situations.
Groundstrokes in pickleball are similar to shots in tennis and require good hand-eye coordination and timing. These drills will help you improve your groundstroke technique:
- Wall Rally: Find a flat wall and stand about ten feet away from it. Hit the ball against the wall, focusing on your groundstroke technique and maintaining a consistent rhythm. This drill helps improve your accuracy, timing, and control.
- Forehand and Backhand Groundstroke Drill: Set up a target or use a designated area on the court as your aiming point. Stand on one side of the court and practice hitting forehand and backhand groundstrokes to the target. Focus on using proper footwork, generating power from your legs and core, and maintaining a smooth and controlled swing.
- Live Ball Groundstroke Rally: Find a practice partner and engage in a groundstroke rally. Start with slow-paced shots and gradually increase the intensity and pace. Focus on maintaining consistency, hitting the ball at the right height, and varying your shot placement to challenge your opponent.
The serve and return are essential aspects of pickleball, as they set the tone for each point. Here are some drills to improve your serving and returning skills:
- Serve Accuracy Drill: Set up targets on the opposite side of the net, aiming for different areas, such as the corners and the middle of the service box. Practice serving and try to hit the targets consistently. This drill helps improve your serve placement and accuracy.
- Return Placement Drill: Have a partner serve you from various positions on the court. Focus on returning the ball to specific areas, such as deep to the backcourt or short to the kitchen line. This drill enhances your return placement and control.
- Live Serve and Return Practice: Engage in live serve and return practice with a partner. Take turns serving and returning, focusing on incorporating your practiced techniques. This drill simulates real-game situations and helps improve your decision-making and adaptation skills.
In pickleball, agility and conditioning are crucial to your overall performance. Incorporate the following exercises into your training routine to enhance your speed, endurance, and agility:
- Ladder Drills: Set up an agility ladder on the ground and perform various footwork drills, such as high knees, side shuffles, and quick feet. These drills improve your foot speed and agility.
- Interval Training: Alternate between high-intensity exercises, such as sprints or court-side-to-side shuffles, and active recovery exercises, such as jogging or walking. This type of training improves your cardiovascular fitness and helps you maintain a high level of performance throughout a pickleball match.
- Plyometric Exercises: Include exercises like box jumps, lateral jumps, and squat jumps to enhance your power on the court. These exercises also improve your leg strength and stability.
Remember, consistency is key when it comes to improving your pickleball skills. Adhere to these drills and exercises in your regular training routine, and practice them regularly.
Furthermore, seek feedback from experienced players on your improvement, or consider working with a coach to guide your technique.
By doing these drills and exercises, you’ll notice significant improvements in your skills, agility, and overall performance on the pickleball court.
Click here for full podcast playlist.