Some players LOVE LOVE LOVE to drill! Others struggle to find enjoyment in it. There’s no doubt that drilling makes you better, IF you and your drilling partner practice with a purpose. For those of you who don’t really like drilling, maybe try to come up with drills that you can play as a game. Keep score if you want to make it competitive! But again, make sure your drills have a purpose.
A great drill to play as a game, is simply a dinking game. All four players are at the kitchen line and every shot, including the serve is made from that position. You actually play a full 11 pt game. Every shot has to drop in the kitchen, or be close enough that the hitter does not have to step back more than one step to hit it off the bounce. Remember, you don’t HAVE to let the ball bounce…..you can reach in and hit it as a volley, but obey all the kitchen rules. You might add that if you are able to hit a volley above your knees or waist, the ball was hit too high and it’s a fault. That’s a fun drill with a purpose; to practice your dinking. You can even do that during open play when you and 3 others are on the court.
Suggestion: Be sure you are continuously moving back into position between dinks. Don’t assume that your opponent is going to hit directly back to the place they hit the last dink! Often I see players who are practicing dinking stand in the corner of the kitchen and sideline, facing diagonally towards the cross court player, and never moving back into position to be ready to receive a dink to their other side. While you’re learning touch and how hard to hit the ball from that position, it’s not realistic for a game situation where you’re always moving and your opponent isn’t always hitting to the same spot.
Have 6 people? How about adding another element to the dinking game. In a game, your goal is to move your opponent out of position in order to open up a shot in the middle. So, playing the same dinking game as before, position the two extra players ON the center line about 6′ behind the NVZ line. Now you have three players on each side, two at the NVZ line and one in the center, 6′ back. Begin the dinking game, with the goal of trying to create a hole in the middle. If the shot is hit between the two dinkers, the third person in the middle will attempt to keep it in play…..BUT must try to hit a soft shot into the opposite kitchen, resetting the point and allowing the dinking rally to continue. This drill will help dinking at the line, but also with learning to hit a drop shot from mid court (the middle person).
Now you probably are saying that we’re not supposed to be in mid-court / no man’s land. Well, you’re right, but in a game, we aren’t always able to get to the NVZ line before the next shot is hit to us. This drill will help you learn to hit that soft shot while still in transition from the back court to the NVZ line.
Suggestion: If you are positioned at the NVZ line, be patient and continue dinking until an opening presents itself. Don’t try to power a shot through the middle, just because you are stronger than your drilling partners. Patience is critical here! Creating the hole to hit through is the purpose of this drill for the four dinkers. If you move your opponent out of position properly, you likely won’t even have to hit the ball hard to get it through the middle!
Suggestion: If you are the player in the middle of the court 6′ from the NVZ, your purpose is to practice soft shots from that position. Follow the flow of the ball between the dinkers so that you are ready for when the ball is hit between them to you. You’ll be moving quite a bit, side to side, since the ball will likely come through the middle on an angle!
Drilling with a purpose is your number one goal! Making it fun is equally important! This is just one of many ideas for you to have fun with!
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2 thoughts on “Drilling with a Purpose – drills and thrills!”
Great post Betsy. I love to drill, and I have never heard of the one with the person in the middle. I just watched a good video by Jordan Briones PrimeTime Pickleball. His suggestion was that while drilling, make every scale competitive and keep score until one person gets five points. Then reverse roles and score till five again. I like the idea of making everything into a scoring game. I seem to work harder that way.
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