Pickleball Drills for Beginners

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Whether you're a beginner or an experienced player, volleys are key to your pickleball game. Volleying is when you hit the ball in the air before it bounces on the court. When done well, you can hit the ball hard and low over the net, making it difficult for your opponents to return. Improving your volley with pickleball drills can take your game to the next level, and in this post, we'll share some of the best pickleball drills for you to incorporate into your practice sessions to master the art of the volley.

Basic Volley Techniques

Before we get into our pickleball drills for beginners, it's important to first understand the basic techniques for volleying. Knowing what makes up a good volley can help to ensure that you maintain the right form during beginner pickleball drills.

There are two main volley techniques:

  • Forehand: During a forehand volley, the stroke is on the side of your dominant hand. A right-handed player will swing with the paddle face toward the ball and their palm facing forward as they hit the ball on the right. With a forehand volley, there is very little backswing and you only follow through as much as needed to direct the ball over the net.
  • Backhand: During a backhand volley, the stroke is on the opposite side from your dominant hand. With this volley, your knuckles face the net rather than your palm and the movement is much bigger than the forehand volley.

To be prepared to volley, stand in the ready position. Hold the paddle like you would a hammer with the edge lined up with your knuckles and the paddle face straight. This is known as the continental grip. Place your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart and keep your shoulders and feet squared with the net. Keep the paddle in front of you around waist-height.

Pickleball Drills for Volleys

The following are some of the best pickleball drills for improving your volley.

Drill #1: The Wall Drill

Pickleball wall drills are great because you can do them on your own anywhere that you have open space to move and a solid wall, such as in your basement or garage. You can even set up a piece of plywood if you don't have wall space available. Wall drills give you the opportunity to develop your form while improving your timing, sharpening your reflexes and enhancing your shot accuracy.

Before you practice, use painter's tape or masking tape to mark a wall about 36 inches above the floor to represent your net. Create a small rectangular shape with tape just above the mark. This will serve as your target.

Hit the ball aiming for the target and then use your forehand and backhand volleys, trying to hit the target each time. Aim for 50 successful forehand volleys and 50 successful backhand volleys.

As a bonus, move to the corner of the garage or basement. Make a tape mark that runs from one wall to the other 36 inches above the floor. Then, practice volleying, trying to hit above the mark on the wall 100 times. In addition to helping you practice your volley, corner drills are one of the best pickleball footwork drills because they will require you to move to reach the ball.

Drill #2: The Two-Person Drill

Pickleball drills for two add a social element to your practice and give you the opportunity to develop consistency, control and footwork. While there are many two-person pickleball drills, the triangle dink is one of the best for working on your volley. To do it, stand just behind the non-volley zone on one side of the net and have your partner stand in the same spot on the other side.

Once you're in place, dink the ball, aiming for the spot just inside where the sideline and non-volley lines meet. Your partner then will try to return the ball to the same spot on the opposite side of the net.

When you dink it back, this time try to hit the ball to the right of the first target just in front of the net. Your partner will attempt to return it in the same spot.

On the next dink, aim to the right of the second target right in front of the non-volley line. After your partner tries to dink it back to the same spot, aim for the first target.

Repeat until you lose control of the ball or you have done the full triangle pattern 50 times each. As you dink, practice both your forehand and backhand volleys, focusing on hitting the targets accurately.

Drill 3: The Serve and Volley Drill

This is a very simple pickleball drill for two people that can build your speed and increase your accuracy. For this drill, you'll stand on the no-volley line and serve the ball. Once the ball is in play, try dinking the ball at your partner's chest, so they can volley it back. The idea is to keep the ball in play for as long as possible. Continue until someone misses the volley. Then, have your partner serve.

Practice, Practice, Practice

The perfect volley doesn't happen overnight. Doing pickleball drills by yourself and with a partner regularly will help you gradually build muscle memory to improve your game. Commit yourself to a routine practice schedule and stick with it to see a difference.

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