Skills & Drills


Skills and Drills List – Practice & Have Fun!!

No Volley Game

Played like a regular game of Pickleball except that you may not hit a volley. I’ve only seen this game played in singles which involved to much running for me to try. However, it was obviously great ground stroke practice for those that I’ve seen do it. It should work for doubles also, but would involve less running.

Two Player Game – Singles Variation

Played exactly the same as a normal game of singles except both players can only hit inside the half of the court their opponent was standing in when the serve was made! This is an excellent game for practicing doubles skills when you either have two players that can’t run well, or you want to practice for doubles but only have two players.

Three Player Game – variation #1

In this three-player game, each player will take turns serving and trying to win points against the other two players. However, each server will get two service turns instead of one and will serve from the right side when they have an even number of points and from the left side when they have an odd number of points.

When calling the score before each serve, the server should call their score first, then the score of the opposing player on the left, and then the score of the opposing player on the right.

After a player has finished their service turn, all players should rotate with the server going to the left-hand return of serve position on the opposite court, and the player he replaces now taking the right hand return of serve position, and the remaining player now becomes the server on the opposite side of the court.

In this game, it is usually very difficult for the serving player to score points since they are playing against two players. Several of our players have used this variation and had a lot of fun, but these were players who were able to run fairly well. If you don’t move well, or are primarily a doubles player, then the next variation should be more fun and better practice for you. 

Three Player Game – variation #2

This three-player game is played exactly like variation #1 above except that the returning team can only hit to the half of the court that the server has served from. This gives the serving player just as good a chance to win the point as if he had a partner. More importantly, it means that he can practice his dinks and lobs just as he might in a regular game of doubles. This is the variation I like most because I’m primarily a doubles player and this lets me practice those skills. Note: It usually takes a little while for the returning team to remember they have to hit to the court where the server is!

Drills for Advanced Players

These 4 drills are much more difficult and are intended for advanced players who still move fairly well on the court. They would be especially good for people trying to improve their singles game. If you have bad knees, bad ankles, bad feet, or etc., then don’t do them. Each drill gives one of the players practice on hitting while running and the other player practice in changing the direction of the ball while standing still which is harder than returning the ball back in the direction it came from. If only one player moves well, then only do the drills where he is the player to run.

  • Player A stands on the right-hand side of his court and alternately hits the ball down the line, cross court, down the line, cross court, etc. Player B will be running from side to side and hitting every ball right back to player A.
  • Player B stands on the right-hand side of his court and alternately hits the ball down the line, cross court, down the line, cross court, etc. Player A will be running from side to side and hitting every ball right back to player B.
  • Player A stands on the left-hand side of his court and alternately hits the ball down the line and then cross court. Player B will be running from side to side and hitting every ball right back to player A.
  • Player B stands on the left-hand side of his court and alternately hits the ball down the line and then cross court. Player A will be running from side to side and hitting every ball right back to player A.

Drills for Advanced Players who move well

In this drill, both players are constantly on the run and changing the ball’s direction every time they hit the ball. If you have bad knees, bad ankles, bad feet, or etc., then don’t do this one. This is only for two advanced players who both move well and are injury free. This is a great for singles players.

  • Players practice at about 3/4 speed with one player hitting every ball down the line, and the other player hitting every ball cross court. Then reverse the process so that the person who hit down the line before is now hitting cross court with the other player hitting every ball down the line. Both players are running in this drill.

Drills on Changing Direction of the Ball (for 3 or 4 players)

This is a little harder than the first 4 drills because players have to change

the direction of the ball, but it shouldn’t involve much movement.

  • In this drill, 4 players hit the ball back and forth to each other at a speed where they can keep a long rally going. Each player should return the ball back to the other team in the direction it didn’t come from. In other words if you receive the ball down the line, then hit it back cross court. If you received the ball cross court, then hit it back down the line.
  • In this drill for 3 players, 2 players on one side of the court both hit to the third player’s forehand side while that player alternately hits cross court and then down the line. After everyone has taken a turn by themselves, then do it over again but this time have the player by themselves hitting backhands cross court and down the line while the other players both hit to his backhand.

Advanced! – Changing Direction of the ball while running!

  • In this drill, Players should hit at about 3/4 speed so the player running from side to side has a little more time to get there. After all 3 players have taken their turn running from side to side, then start over, but this time have the player running from side to side hit down the line, and the other two players both hit cross court ever time.
  • In this drill for 3 players, 2 players on one side of the court both hit down the line, while the third player on the other side of the net runs from side to side and hits every ball cross court.

Drills – Overheads

Overhead drills are not going to work very well until the players have first learned to lob well enough to hit a lob to the player practicing overheads! After you can lob fairly well when returning a ground stroke or volley, then you are ready to attempt these drills.

These drills are necessary not only to develop your overhead skills, but also to develop your ability to return an overhead smash with another lob. You will find that if you do these drills your lob will improve as much or more than your overhead improves.

Drill 1 is good for two players. If you have 3 or 4 players, then drill 3 is much better because the player hitting overheads can practice hitting to different areas of the court. That also gives the two players lobbing practice in a more game like situation. Hitting overheads is quite tiring and even with 4 players rotating to the overhead position, everyone should get plenty of practice.

  1. Player A stands on one side of the net at the baseline and hits lobs to Player B who hits overheads back at Player A. Player A tries to hit high lobs that land between the no-volley line and 3/4 court. Player B tries to hit overheads back at player A so that it can be lobbed again. Rotate between lobbing and hitting overheads often. (For 2 players)
  2. Player A and Player B stand on one side of the net at the baseline and hits lobs to Player C who practices hitting overheads to both corners and down the middle. Anytime player C manages to hit 4 overheads in a row successfully, then they can try to put the overhead away after that. All players take turns hitting overheads and should rotate often as overheads can be very tiring. If you have 4 or more players, then one or more players can sit on the bench as part of the rotation. (For 3 or more players)
  3. In this drill, you have two teams on opposite sides of the net with one team lobbing and one team hitting overheads. Advanced teams should be trying to put their smashes away while the lobbers should be trying to lob high and deep. When possible, however you also should try to be consistent while doing so. More beginning teams should be considerate of what the other team is trying to do when they lob or smash. We should have lots of rallies of 5 or 6 hits for both teams to get the most out of this drill. (For 4 players)

Drills – Volleys

The simplest volley drill is for either two players or four players to stand at the no-volley line and volley the ball back and forth. Each player should attempt to hit the ball to the other player in a manner that will allow them to keep the ball going. At all levels, the goal should be to keep quite a few balls going between misses.

For beginning players, this might mean you are hitting the ball fairly slow and high and possibly even to the forehand. As you improve, you might hit the ball a little firmer and even try to hit to their backhand more often. You will find that all players at all levels will do best if you don’t hit the ball right at them.

As players improve, you can hit the ball harder at each other and intentionally hit some to the backhand and some to the forehand and some right at the other player. If you are having long rallies, you can get more aggressive. If your opponent is starting to miss too much, then you should slow the ball down until he/she is successful again. With only two players, you should practice not only volleying the ball straight ahead, but also crosscourt using both backhands and forehands. With 4 players you will get to practice both, but you should practice both from the left-side and the right-side of the court. Remember, the goal is to practice and keep the ball going, not to hit so hard the other player can’t get it back!

10 (More) Pickleball Drills. All Drills are Team Drills – 2 v 2

5 Minute Dink Warm-Up.

Same side and cross court. Always the first drill for warming up.

3-D Drill (Deep-Deep- Dink)

Deep Serve, Deep Return, Dink (3rd shot). Both players serving on one side.

Dink Game 

No Lob. Start with a dink serve which must land inside the no volley zone. The ball must be hit over the net at least 4 times (all dinks) not including the dink serve. Beginning with the 5th hit, you can win a point with a dink or a kill shot. No lobs. Just like the regular game, points can only be won by the serving team. Play to 11.

Lob Only Game

Play a complete game using only lob, including the serves. Any lob that lands in the NVZ is a fault or loss of point. Play to 7 or 11. 

1 vs. 2 Dink Game

The single person moves from Left to Middle to Right position on court AND dinks to both players on the opposite side. After moving to all three positions, and back the other way, rotate to the other side. If more than three on court, have the others wait near the net post and rotate in.

Feed-Split- Hit

1 person on one side of net; others on other side at the baseline. The multiple person line has one person approach net, on the run. Split-Step when other person feeds (hits) the ball. Play the “soft” shot into the NVZ. Go through two cycles of the line. Someone take the single side feeder’s place.

4-4 Game

2 vs. 2. One ball. 4 Volleys, 4 Dinks. Continue pattern until there is a miss. Repeat. Not trying to win the rally, just keep ball in play.

Figure 8 Dink Game

Play to 15. Rally scoring. Ball must move in a figure 8 direction. After 4 dinks, a player can change the direction of the ball. Every time there is a miss, the two partners change positions on the same side of the court.

Dink-Lob Drill

2 on 2. All at the NVZ line. Dink 6 times and then lob a winner. Angle person goes to get the ball BUT does not return or hit it back. Just pick it up. Resume drill. Make sure you alternate who is lobbing.

5 Minute Volley Drill

1 ball. Both teams volley only. Not trying to hit winners. Keep ball in the air and flat back and forth.

Links to some other cool ideas and drills!– more.html

Backboard Wall Drills (from beginner to advanced):

General Suggestions

Instead of taping boxes on the court, use plastic pails and try to land it in the pail. Easy to set up, easy to move to different locations and it’s a great feeling when you land one in the bucket.


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