The Best Pickleball Drills For Beginners

These are some of the best pickleball drills for beginner pickleball players. They’re a great idea because drills are one of the quickest ways to improve your game. When you practice them consistently, you’ll take your game to the next level. Choose from solo drills or drills for two players.

The Best Solo Pickleball Drills For Beginners

DRILL #1 – Tip to grip or paddle bump

  • Number of Players: solo drill
  • Skill Level: 1.0+
  • Skill Focus: hand-eye coordination, paddle control, ball control
  • Drill Name: Tip to grip or paddle bump

The tip-to-grip drill also called the paddle bump, is one of the best ways to get a good feel for your paddle and how the ball bounces off it. In fact, it’s one of the first drills you’ll learn at beginner lessons. 

Hold your pickleball paddle horizontal to the ground and bounce the ball on your paddle face.

Continue to bounce the ball gently to ensure you don’t lose control of the ball.

Once you’ve developed a good feel and rhythm, start switching the paddle face from top to bottom so you’re alternating which side of the paddle face connects with the ball. 

Once you’re consistent, start bouncing the ball from the tip of the paddle face to the base of the paddle face.

This drill should help you better understand the sweet spot and get a better feel for the deader areas typically around the edges and the base of the paddle.

Such an easy drill but with huge benefits and is worth including in your regular pickleball practice.

DRILL #2Selfie ball bounce

  • Number of Players: solo drill
  • Skill Level: 1.0+
  • Skill Focus: paddle control, ball control
  • Drill Name: Selfie ball bounce

The selfie ball bounce is a great solo drill. To do this drill, hold your paddle horizontally to the ground, bounce the ball off your paddle, and then let the ball bounce off the ground. And repeat. Keep your knees bent and your body as square as possible.

It’s okay to move your feet but to make this drill a bit more challenging, keep your feet in one place.

Try to use enough control when hitting the ball that you can keep your knees bent, posture square, and the ball within easy reach of your paddle.

Another variation of this drill is to incorporate a side-step as you are bouncing the ball.

DRILL #3Pickleball wall drills

  • Number of Players: solo drill
  • Skill Level: 1.0+
  • Skill Focus: eye-hand control, paddle control, ball placement, fast hands
  • Drill Name: Pickleball wall drills

Wall drills are simple drills and they’re also one of the best ways to improve. More advanced players know that improving your pickleball game is often a matter of constant practice. And of course, the great thing about them is that you don’t need a partner.

Find a wall that you can use for hitting a pickleball against and one that you can stick tape to. Keep reading for details and see the video at the bottom to see the different techniques for this drill.

Run the tape on the wall, 34” off the ground, or if possible, put it so the tape runs 36” off the ground on the outside edges where the net poles would be and 34” in the center. 

Measure 7 ft outwards from the wall along the ground and then put tape along the ground, horizontal to the wall. This is the kitchen line (non-volley line) and the distance of 7 feet represents the kitchen size depth. 

The width of a full-size pickleball court is 22 ft. You don’t need to make your lines this long – 10 ft or even less will work.

Next, tape out a square that uses the existing tape line on the wall as the bottom of the square.

I’ve done this in my garage against the wall. It works well and since it gets very cold and snowy where I live, I can easily practice indoors during the winter months.

This is a good way to practice dinking, and improve your reaction time and how quickly you can respond to a shot. I found that practicing this drill regularly improved my reaction time.

Stand 7 ft back from the wall (the depth of the kitchen line). Hit the ball inside the square. 

You can let it bounce and then hit it or you can volley it into the square. Pick one or the other and then focus on it. And then switch to the other shot.

Hit the ball above the tape line using both forehand shots and backhand shots. Alternate between using these two shots. 

Here is another way to practice hitting and receiving high shots or lobs. Hit the ball high above the tape line. It will bounce out, well beyond the kitchen line. 

And then you need to turn around run and hit the ball against the wall, above the kitchen line. This is a great workout and a really good way to practice your footwork.

DRILL #4Serve Repeats

  • Number of Players: solo drill (or 2)
  • Skill Level: 1.0+
  • Skill Focus: serve consistency
  • Drill Name: serve repeats

Serve repeat drills can be done alone or with a partner. If you have someone who can get the balls for you, that will make these drills easier. Another option is to have a bucket of balls or a ball machine – either will save you constantly running back and forth.

If you’re playing with a partner, then you can take turns serving and returning the serves.

Practice hitting serves so that the ball lands at the back ⅓ of the court just inside the baseline. 

Once you’ve consistently mastered this serve, start practicing hitting the ball to the receiver’s backhand, so the ball lands at the back of the court. 

The majority of pickleball players are righthanded so practice hitting the ball to the backhand of a righthanded person.

 

Practice this serve from one side of the court until you get consistent and then switch sides and practice from the other side until you get consistent.

 

If you know that you’re playing with a lefthanded player regularly, practice hitting to a lefthanded person’s backhand.

The Best Pickleball Drills for Beginners – Two Players

Pickleball Dinking Drills

DRILL #5Half-court dinking

  • Number of Players: 2 (or 4)
  • Skill Level: 2.0+
  • Skill Focus: dink shot, hand-eye coordination, ball placement
  • Drill Name: Half-court dinking

The half-court dinking drill is a great way for pickleball players to improve their dink shot. This drill focuses on only the dink shot which means you don’t need to worry about your serve, return of serve, or the third shot drop skills. You can focus just on your dinks.

This drill is played on half of the court with one player (player A) on one side of the net and player B on the other side of the net.

Both players stand just by the non-volley line.

The drill begins with Player A dinking the ball over the net to Player B. 

This drill can be done with 4 pickleball players on one court, 2 on each side of the net, hitting the ball straight across the court. 

Remember that you’re only dinking which means your focus is on getting the ball over the net so that it lands in the non-volley zone. 

You want to practice hitting gentle balls that are controlled. If the ball goes outside the sideline, baseline, or centerline of that half of the court – it’s out.

And the same rules apply for hitting at the non-volley zone.

DRILL #6Cross-court dinks

  • Number of Players: 2
  • Skill Level: 1.0+
  • Skill Focus: dink shot, eye-hand coordination, ball placement
  • Drill Name: Cross-court dinks

The cross-court dinks drill is similar to the half-court dinking drill except that there are only 2 players on a court and you’re playing cross-court (diagonal) which means that if you hit the ball outside the court that is diagonal to you, the ball is out.

Players stand at the non-volley line on the courts that are diagonal to each other.

They play as usual except that players must hit the ball across the net and into the non-volley zone that is diagonal to their court. 

Cross Court Dinks

This drill is good for different strokes including volley shots and groundstrokes.

The cross-court dink drill focuses on only dinking which means you don’t need to worry about your serving, return of serve, or the third shot drop skills. You can focus just on your dink shot.

DRILL #7 – Forehand, backhand dinks

  • Number of Players: 2 (or 4)
  • Skill Level: 1.5+
  • Skill Focus: backhand dinks, forehand dinks
  • Drill Name: Forehand, backhand dinks

With the forehand and backhand dinks drill, both players stand at the non-volley zone on their side of the net. One player practices their forehand shot and the other player practices their backhand shot. The player practicing their forehand shot will hit the ball to the other player’s backhand. 

DRILL #8Triangle Dinks

  • Number of Players: 2
  • Skill Level: 2.5+
  • Skill Focus: ball placement, ball placement variety
  • Drill Name: Triangle Dinks

The triangle dink drill is excellent for practicing ball placement. Each player stands at the non-volley zone on their side of the net. The idea is to keep your opponent moving around the non-volley zone by hitting the ball to three different spots, forming a triangle on the court.

Triangle Dink Drill

If you dink to different spots, your opponent will need to keep moving and they’ll need to anticipate where your shot is going. That will be difficult if you keep placing the ball in different locations.

This drill is great for practicing forehand shots and backhand shots. Your opponent will also be hitting the ball to your side of the net in a triangle which means you’ll have plenty of opportunities to practice both.

DRILL #9 – Crosscourt forehand and backhand dinks

  • Number of Players: 2 (or 4)
  • Skill Level: 1.5+
  • Skill Focus: backhand dinks, forehand dinks
  • Drill Name: Crosscourt forehand and backhand dinks

With the crosscourt forehand and backhand dinks drill, players stand at the non-volley zone that is diagonal to each other. One player practices their forehand shot and the other player practices their backhand shot. The player practicing their forehand shot will hit the ball to the other player’s backhand. 

DRILL #10 – Alternating forehand and backhand dinks

  • Number of Players: 2 (or 4)
  • Skill Level: 1.5+
  • Skill Focus: backhand dinking, forehand dinking
  • Drill Name: Alternating forehand and backhand dinks

This drill is similar to the previous drill except that each player alternates between hitting with a forehand shot and hitting with a backhand shot.

With the alternating forehand and backhand dinks drill, players stand at the non-volley zone that is diagonal to each other. Each player alternates hitting a forehand and backhand shot. One player hits with their forehand shot to the other player’s backhand. And then they alternate shots.

Pickleball Volley Shots

DRILL #11 – Half-court kitchen volley shots

  • Number of Players: 2 (or 4)
  • Skill Level: 1.0+
  • Skill Focus: forehand, backhand volley-dinking
  • Drill Name: Half-court kitchen volley shots

In the half-court kitchen volley shots drill, both players stand by the kitchen and volley the ball. Players focus on not letting the ball bounce and returning shots that are controlled and stay within the non-volley zone. This drill is great for backhand, forehand, one-handed, and two-handed volley shots.

DRILL #12 – Block and volley

  • Number of Players: 2 (or 4)
  • Skill Level: 2.0+
  • Skill Focus: ball control and handling
  • Drill Name: Block and Volley

The block and volley drill will help with ball control. As the ball comes over the net, hold your paddle up. Let the ball hit your paddle but don’t put any movement or force behind your hit. It should pop off your paddle and over the net.

Then your practice partner should let the ball block off their paddle in the same way, without any force or swing).

It’s a great strategy for just about any ball that has any momentum coming over the net while you’re standing at the non-volley zone.

Pickleball Kitchen, Transition & 3rd Shot Drills

DRILL #13 – Half-court groundies

  • Number of Players: 2 (or 4)
  • Skill Level: 1.0+
  • Skill Focus: forehand, backhand groundstroke fundamentals
  • Drill Name: Half-court groundstroke

With the half-court groundstroke drill, four players can use one pickleball court. Players hit forehand or backhand groundstrokes and try to keep the ball in their half of the court. This can be played as a warmup, for points, or to see how long the rally can be kept going.

Once a game/time has finished, players can rotate one position. 

DRILL #14 – Skinny singles

  • Number of Players: 2 (or 4)
  • Skill Level: 1.0+
  • Skill Focus: all the skills
  • Drill Name: Skinny singles

To play skinny singles, each partner stands on their side of the court and you play a game of pickleball as you typically would, but you only use the side of the court that you’re standing on. That means that you serve directly across the net, not diagonally. 

Skinny singles is played the same as a regular game but on only one side of the court. This means that the court lines are only on one side of the court and include the sideline, baseline, centerline from the baseline to the net, and non-volley zone line.

If the ball goes outside these boundaries, the ball is out. 

Because only half the court is being used, two teams could play at the same time which can get a bit crazy with balls going outside the correct side of the court but it’s a good way to get more players on the court practicing.

Learn more about singles rules.

DRILL #15 – Kitchen to baseline hits

  • Number of Players: 2 (or 4)
  • Skill Level: 1.5+
  • Skill Focus: paddle & ball control, ball placement
  • Drill Name: Kitchen to baseline hits

When practicing the kitchen to baseline hits drill, one player stands at the baseline and one stands on the other side of the net, by the non-volley zone line. The player at the baseline hits the ball over the net and the person at the non-volley zone returns it. 

This is a great drill to get to know your paddle and practice hitting the ball where you want it to go.

Switch positions so each player gets to practice from both the non-volley zone line and the baseline.

DRILL #16 – Back and forth

  • Number of Players: 2 (or 4)
  • Skill Level: 1.5+
  • Skill Focus: ball distance control, ball placement, drop shots
  • Drill Name: Back and forth

With the back-and-forth drill, both players start at the kitchen line. The first player dinks the ball over the net and the other player returns it. The player who returns the ball takes a big step backward and the player at the net will hit the shot a little deeper.

The player being drilled will continue to move back with every shot and the drill continues until the player reaches the baseline which means the player being drilled now hits a third shot drop.

After the player at the baseline makes the third shot drop, they start taking steps towards the kitchen line with every shot and the person who was previously doing the drilling becomes the person being drilled. 

And now they begin backing up with every shot and work their way back to the baseline.

DRILL #17 – Kitchen runs

  • Number of Players: 2 (or 4)
  • Skill Level: 2.0+
  • Skill Focus: moving to the kitchen, third shot drop
  • Drill Name: Kitchen runs

The purpose of the kitchen runs drill is to practice making the transition from playing at the back of the court to playing at the non-volley zone. One player stands at the non-volley zone line and the other stands at the baseline on the other side of the net. 

The player at the non-volley zone line will hit the ball to the player at the baseline, who will attempt to hit a third shot drop (landing in their opponent’s kitchen).

And then the player at the kitchen will make a move to the non-volley zone line.

This drill is perfect for practicing both and building muscle memory.

Getting to the front of the court and the third shot drop are two of the most challenging skills for new players.

But, the player who is already at the kitchen will do what they can to stop them from getting to the non-volley zone. This could be done by hitting a hard ball or a long ball.

Learn more about pickleball rules.

DRILL #18 – Third shot drop

  • Number of Players: 2
  • Skill Level: 2.5+
  • Skill Focus: ball placement on the third shot
  • Drill Name: Third shot drop

The third shot drop drill will help you build muscle memory that will help you hit a fantastic third shot drop.

The third shot is often referred to as the most important shot of a game and this drill can help you perfect it.

With the third shot drop drill, your partner stands at the non-volley zone and you stand at the back of the court. Your partner feeds you balls and you’ll return them by hitting the ball with a pendulum swing that helps your ball rise high and over the net into your opponent’s non-volley zone. 

Pickleball Exercises That Help With Drills

DRILL #19Reflex Training

  • Number of Players: 2 (or 4)
  • Skill Level: 2.0+
  • Skill Focus: training reflexes for quicker response
  • Drill Name: Reflex Training

This reflex drill will help you improve how fast you respond and hit a ball. You and your partner stand at the non-volley zone and dink back and forth with controlled shots. Then surprise your partner with a hard drive. They should block the ball with their paddle. 

This drill will help train your reflexes and help you practice blocking shots with control.

One of the key skills needed when playing pickleball is quick reflexes. It means that you need to be able to respond quickly to a ball, at all times. 

DRILL #20Side-stepping

  • Number of Players: solo drill
  • Skill Level: 1.0+
  • Skill Focus: fitness conditioning, footwork, speed & agility
  • Drill Name: Side-stepping

The side-stepping drill is great for improving your footwork. Line up four cones on the ground with a couple of feet between each. Start making lateral moves in between the cones. Start the first rep slowly and then with each repeat, gradually increase your speed. 

You can also tape four X’s on the ground with tape.

Make side-stepping (lateral movements) over each cone and once you’ve moved over all four, you swing back (side shuffle) to the cone where you started. Continue to increase your speed with each repetition but ensure that you’re only moving as fast as you can control your feet.

The side-stepping drill will raise your heart rate and force you to move your feet faster, helping you focus on controlled footwork.

An alternative is to just continue lateral movements over each cone, back and forth.

Doing this drill regularly will help with your fitness level and improve your footwork which will help you when you’re on the court playing a game.

DRILL #21 – Figure 8

  • Number of Players: solo drill
  • Skill Level: 1.0+
  • Skill Focus: fitness conditioning, footwork, speed & agility
  • Drill Name: Figure 8 

This drill is great for getting your heart rate up and improving your footwork.

You’ll need two cones or any other item that you can line up on the ground with about three feet between them. 

You can also tape two X’s on the ground with tape.

Move around the court in a figure 8. Start slow and gradually work your way up to a speed that is manageable and you can maintain foot control.

Summary – 21 Pickleball Drills for Beginners

I hope that you’ve found these pickleball drills for beginners helpful and will add at least a couple to your practice routine. Practicing pickleball drills are one of the quickest ways to improve your game.

When practiced consistently, you’ll take your game to the next level.

Choose from solo drills or drills you can play with a partner.

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