21 Pickleball Drills for Advanced Players: Take Your Game to the Next Level

Pickleball Drills for Advanced Players

One of the best ways to improve your pickleball game is by practicing pickleball drills for advanced players.

Advanced players need to focus on developing their skills in order to take their game to the next level.

This means practicing drills that are challenging, yet still manageable. 

Some of the most effective drills for advanced players include wall drills and doubles drills, each of which targets different aspects of the game. 

By incorporating these drills into their practice routines, advanced players can continue to improve their skills and take their game to the next level. 

Here are some of the best pickleball drills for advanced players. These drills will also work for intermediate players.

Serving Drills

Serving Drill #1

  • Drill Type: Serve drilling game
  • Drill Name: Fireball (credit: PrimeTime Pickleball)
  • Number of Players: 2
  • Skill Level: 4.0+
  • Skill Focus: serve pace/speed, rally control

I’m not a 4.0+ player – not yet anyhow but I’m probably considered a solid 3.5 player with decent pickleball skills. 

That being said, I’ve done this drill and it did help me become a better player.

Here’s a quick overview but have a look at the video just below for more information.

The Fireball drill is a bit trickier than it seems.

Both you and your drilling partner need to have solid ball control, a good serve, and return of serve for this drill to be effective.

The first drilling partner (the server) stands behind the baseline on the right side of the court.

The receiving partner stands cross-court, up by the non-volley zone line (kitchen line).

The objective of the fireball drill is for the server to hit a hard drive serve with as much pace as possible, directly at their opponent who is standing up by the kitchen line ( nvz line) so that the receiving partner misses the serve.

The receiving partner returns the ball to the back of the court and tries to keep their opponent (the server) at the back of the court and away from the non-volley zone (nvz line). 

Use rally scoring and keep the game going until one player gets 11 points. 

The same player continues serving throughout the drilling game. Once the game has been won, switch roles so the receiver is now the server.

Serving Drill #2

  • Drill Name: Terminator (credit: PrimeTime Pickleball)
  • Drill Type: Serve drilling game
  • Number of Players: 2
  • Skill Level: 4.0+
  • Skill Focus: attacking, offensive play

The Terminator drill allows for the simulation of a high, weak ball so the receiving player can practice driving the ball across the net as if they were hitting a third shot drop.

One player starts at the non-volley zone and the other player starts at the baseline.

The player at the non-volley zone hits a high, weak ball to the receiving partner and the receiving partner drives the ball across the net towards the server. 

The receiving partner should drive the ball, low above the net and try to work their way to the non-volley zone. 

The serving partner tries to keep the receiver as far back in the court as possible.

This drill should be done on half of the court like in skinny singles, directly across from each other, or cross court – even side to even side or odd side to odd side.

Rally scoring can be used.

Serving Drill #3

  • Drill Name: Survivor (credit: PrimeTime Pickleball)
  • Drill Type: Serve drilling game
  • Number of Players: 2
  • Skill Level: 4.0+
  • Skill Focus: attacking, offensive play

For the Survivor Drill, one player stands at the baseline and the receiving player stands at the non-volley zone.

The player at the baseline hits a lob to the player at the non-volley zone and that player smashes the ball back to the serving player.

The goal of the player at the non-volley zone is to continue to smash the ball over the net and force the receiving player to make an error or keep them back at the baseline.

The goal of the player at the baseline is to return the ball and continue to stay in the game while moving up toward the non-volley zone.

This drill should be done on half of the court like in skinny singles, directly across from each other, or cross court – even side to even side or odd side to odd side.

Rally scoring can be used.

Serving Drill #4

  • Drill Name: Mid-Court Crisis (credit: PrimeTime Pickleball)
  • Drill Type: Serve drilling game
  • Number of Players: 2
  • Skill Level: 4.0+
  • Skill Focus: attacking, offensive play

For the Mid-Court Crisis Drill, one player starts in the non-volley zone and one in the transition zone.

The player in the transition zone will hit an attackable, high ball that lands in the non-volley zone. 

This simulates a high third shot drop which should be attacked by the player at the non-volley zone. 

This player should hit with topspin and pace and towards the feet at the player in the transition. 

This will help the player in the transition zone work on their defense and neutralize the ball. 

The player in the transition zone should reset the ball and neutralize the point. 

This drill should be done on half of the court like in skinny singles, directly across from each other, or cross court – even side to even side or odd side to odd side.

Rally scoring can be used.

Third Shot Drop Drills (Drop Shots)

  • Drill Name: Back & forth drop shots
  • Drill Type: drop shots, third shot drop
  • Number of Players: 2
  • Skill Level: 2.5 – 4.0+
  • Skill Focus: ball placement, ball control

One of the most important skills an advanced player needs to perfect is the drop shot or in particular, the third shot drop. 

The Back & Forth Drop Shot Drill is a great drill to practice your third shot drop along with other different strokes.

Here’s a brief overview with a great video below.

One player stands at the baseline (the player practicing their drop shot) and their practice partner stands at the non-volley zone. 

Use half of the court for this drill like you would in a game of skinny singles.

The player at the non-volley zone feeds the ball to the player at the baseline.

The player at the baseline hits a third shot drop into the non-volley zone and the receiving player returns the ball.

For every third shot drop that lands in the non-volley zone, they get a point and they keep positioning drop shots until they make an error by hitting the ball into the net or somewhere outside the non-volley zone.

Once the pickleball player at the baseline makes an error, the players change position so the player who was at the baseline moves to the non-volley zone and the player who was at the non-volley zone moves to the baseline. 

The player at the baseline feeds the ball to the player at the non-volley zone, practicing placing a third shot drop.

This pickleball drill continues until one of the players gets to the maximum number of points required to win the drill. 

Pick a number that works well for your practice goals and time on the court. 20, 30, 50, 60 points.

Volley Drills

Volley shots are one of the most important shots to learn. 

  • Drill Name: Offensive Defensive 
  • Drill Type: Non-volley zone volley
  • Number of Players: 2
  • Skill Level: 4.0+
  • Skill Focus: hand-eye coordination, volley, speed

The Offensive – Defensive Drill is a great drill to help all players including advanced players improve both their offensive and defensive game. 

I also do this drill against a wall when I don’t have a partner to practice with.

Both players stand on opposite sides of the net and volley the ball across the net but with speed while ensuring that there’s no stepping into the non-volley zone. 

This drill is important and for good reason. 

In most games where advanced players are playing, the game will happen at the non-volley zone most of the time.

Offensive Drills

Advanced pickleball players know that offense is just as important as defense, and that’s why practicing offensive drills is crucial to take their game to the next level

Here are some of the most effective offensive drills:

Third Shot Drop Drill

The third shot drop is a crucial shot in pickleball that is used to gain control of the net. 

One great drill to practice the third shot drop is to have a player stand at the non-volley zone line while the other player stands at the baseline. 

The player at the baseline serves the ball, and the player at the non-volley zone line must hit a third shot drop that lands in the kitchen. 

The players switch positions after each round.

Dinking Drills

Dinking is a key strategy in pickleball that involves hitting soft shots that land in the non-volley zone. 

  • Drill Name: Triangle Dink Drill
  • Drill Type: Dinking
  • Number of Players: 2
  • Skill Level: 4.0+
  • Skill Focus: ball placement, reaction time, lateral movements, hand-eye coordination, dinking, lateral movements

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 areas of the court, forming a triangle.

If you hit triangle dinks to different spots, the opposing player 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.

Figure 8 Dink

  • Drill Name: Figure 8 Dink 
  • Drill Type: Dinking
  • Number of Players: 2 or 4
  • Skill Level: 4.0+
  • Skill Focus: hand-eye coordination, dink shot, lateral movement, cross-court dinks

The Figure 8 dink drill is a great drill that will help players improve their dink shot while practicing lateral movements and cardio.

It’s a drill that works well for either 2 or 4 pickleball players.

For 2 players:

Each player stands on either side of the net just outside the non-volley zone line.

One player will always dink down the line into the non-volley zone and the other player will always dink cross-court into the non-volley zone.

Players start by standing cross-court (even side to even side or odd side to odd side).

The goal is to always get the ball to land in the non-volley zone.

With one player always hitting down the line, and the other player hitting cross-court, both players are forced to practice their dinking along with their lateral movements.

For 4 players:

2 players on one side of the net both hit down the line and the 2 players on the other side of the net always hit cross-court.

Attacking Drills

Attacking is an important part of offensive play in pickleball. Advanced players need to have a variety of attacking shots in their arsenal to keep their opponents guessing. 

One great drill to practice attacking is to have a player stand at the non-volley zone line while the other player stands at the baseline.

The player at the baseline hits a volley shot into the non-volley zone, and the player at the non-volley zone line must hit an attacking shot that lands in the opponent’s court.

The players switch positions after each round.

Another drill is to have two players stand at the non-volley zone line and hit volleys back and forth to each other. The goal is to hit the ball with power and accuracy, aiming for the opponent’s feet or toward the sidelines.

Defensive Drills

Advanced pickleball players need to have a well-rounded game that includes both offensive and defensive skills.

Defensive drills can help players improve their ability to defend against hard-hitting shots and return them with accuracy and control.

This section will explore three types of defensive drills: lobbing drills, blocking drills, and footwork drills.

Lobbing Drills

Lobbing is an essential defensive skill that can help players return high, looping shots that are difficult to hit. The following drills can help players improve their lobbing skills:

  • Baseline Lobbing: In this drill, players stand at the baseline and hit high, looping shots to their partner who is at the net. The partner must return the shots with a high lob that lands in the opposite court.
  • Deep Court Lobbing: In this drill, players stand at the baseline and hit deep shots to their partner who is at the net. The partner must return the shots with a high lob that lands in the opposite deep court. 
  • Forehand and Backhand Lobbing: In this drill, players practice lobbing with both their forehand and backhand by hitting high, looping shots to their partner who is at the net.

Blocking Drills

Blocking is another important defensive skill that can help players return hard shots with accuracy and control. The following drills can help players improve their blocking skills:

  • Forehand and Backhand Blocking: In this drill, players stand at the net and practice blocking shots with both their forehand and backhand.
  • Angle Blocking: In this drill, players practice blocking shots that are hit at an angle by their partner.
  • Speed Blocking: In this drill, players practice blocking shots that are hit with speed by their partner.

Footwork Drills

Good footwork is essential for both offensive and defensive play in pickleball. The following drills can help players improve their footwork:

  • Side-to-Side Footwork: In this drill, players practice moving quickly from side to side by hitting shots to their partner who is positioned at different points along the baseline.
  • Backpedaling Footwork: In this drill, players practice moving backwards quickly by hitting shots to their partner who is positioned at the net.
  • Forward Footwork: In this drill, players practice moving forward quickly by hitting shots to their partner who is positioned at the baseline.

Conditioning Drills

Advanced pickleball players know that conditioning is key to staying competitive on the court.

These drills focus on building agility and endurance, helping players to move quickly and efficiently throughout the game.

Agility Drills

Agility drills are designed to improve a player’s ability to change direction quickly and maintain balance while moving at high speeds.

These drills can be done on the court or off, and typically involve cones, ladders, and other agility equipment.

  • Side Shuffle Drill: Place cones in a straight line, about 3-4 feet apart. Shuffle sideways between the cones as quickly as possible, maintaining a low center of gravity and good balance.
  • Figure 8 Drill: Set up cones in a figure 8 pattern. Move quickly through the cones, changing direction smoothly and maintaining good form.
  • Ladder Drill: Use an agility ladder to improve footwork and coordination. Run through the ladder, alternating feet and moving quickly.

Endurance Drills

Pickleball games can be long and grueling, so endurance is key. These drills focus on building cardiovascular fitness, allowing players to maintain their energy levels throughout the game.

  • Interval Training: Alternate between periods of high-intensity activity (such as sprinting) and periods of lower-intensity activity (such as jogging). This type of training helps to improve cardiovascular fitness and build endurance.
  • Stair Running: Running up and down stairs is a great way to build leg strength and improve cardiovascular fitness. Find a set of stairs and run up and down them several times, taking care to maintain good form and avoid injury.
  • Long-Distance Running: Running several miles at a steady pace is a great way to build endurance and improve cardiovascular fitness. This type of training can be done on a treadmill or outside.

FAQ – Advanced Pickleball Drills

What are some advanced pickleball drills for improving my backhand?

One advanced drill for improving your backhand is the “Backhands Only” drill. This drill involves hitting only backhand shots against a wall. 

Another advanced drill for improving your backhand is the “Forehand and Backhand” drill, which involves hitting alternating forehand and backhand shots against a wall.

Can you recommend any advanced drills for improving my volleys?

Yes, a great way to improve your volley skills is with the “Highspeed Volleys” drill. This drill involves hitting volleys back and forth with a partner at a fast pace. 

Another drill to improve your volley skills is the “Cooperative Volleys” drill, which involves hitting volleys back and forth with a partner while moving around the court.

Are there any advanced drills for improving my dinking skills?

Yes, the “Backspin Dink” is an advanced drill and a great way to improve your dinking skills.

This drill involves hitting a soft backspin shot that lands just over the net and bounces back toward you.

Can you recommend any doubles drills for advanced players?

Yes, the “Transition Drill” is a doubles drill and a great way for advanced players to improve their game. This drill involves hitting shots back and forth with your partner while moving toward the net. 

Another drill is the “Side Burns” drill, which involves one player hitting shots on the move while the other player practices changing the direction of the ball.

Is it important to practice pickleball drills regularly?

Yes, practicing pickleball drills regularly is essential for improving your game. By practicing drills, you can improve your skills and develop muscle memory, which will help you perform better during games.

Overall, advanced pickleball players should focus on practicing various drills to improve their skills and stay sharp on the court.

Summary – Pickleball Drills For Advanced Players

One of the best ways to improve your pickleball game is by practicing pickleball drills for advanced players.

Advanced players need to focus on developing their skills in order to take their game to the next level.

This means practicing drills that are challenging, yet still manageable. 

Some of the most effective drills for advanced players include wall drills and doubles drills, each of which targets different aspects of the game. 

By incorporating these drills into their practice routines, advanced players can continue to improve their skills and take their game to the next level.