All sports need practice. To get better at your game, to play at your best, you need to hone your technique through regular drills.
In pickleball one needs to put in sufficient hours of practice. The more you drill, the higher your chances of playing a winning match. Drills help point out what you are doing wrong. With regular practice, you can eliminate your wrong moves and improve your overall performance. Drills help you develop new skills. They give you a chance to polish these skills to perfection and apply them successfully in your competitive matches. Finally, drills make you more confident as an athlete and help you enjoy the sport better.
Drills can be moderately strenuous to highly rigorous. Find out what you are comfortable with. Do not stress yourself out too much. Plan a practice schedule and stick to it.
Tips to Practice Pickleball More Efficiently
In the following points, we have made a list of the things you can do to practice pickleball more efficiently.
1. Find out what you need
Before you start practicing, find out what your goal is. What is it you expect to achieve from your practice sessions? Do you wish to learn a new technique or correct an erroneous one? Do you want to work on your footwork? Do you want to improve your shots? Find out exactly what you want and then chart out a road map of how you are going to accomplish it. Doing so will help you stay focused and give you concrete results.
Also Read:- How to Avoid Pickleball Unforced Errors?
2. Find a good partner
Find a good pickleball partner who understands the importance of practice. They must either be of your level of play or more advanced.
Get an experienced pickleball player to watch you while you practice. Ask them for feedback on what you are doing and what you need to do to improve your game. It helps to have someone observe your play and point out your mistakes.
Footwork is key in pickleball. Develop the right footwork and your game will automatically improve. You will have better court coverage and range, your balance will be better and your shots more accurate. Concentrate on your split step, side step and cross step. You can do it even when you are off-court. For instance, you can practice your split step by yourself. Just take two or three quick steps forward and then a short hop, landing with your feet a little wider than the width of your shoulders. You can practice this anywhere. Likewise, you can work on your lateral movements while you are alone. Apart from this, also work on your leg strength by doing some core strength exercises for your thighs, glutes and calf muscles.
Dinking well is the road to success in pickleball. If you can learn how to dink well, you can beat anyone. A dink shot is a soft shot that, once over the net, drops abruptly to the ground. For dinking, you need to hold the paddle at a 45ᵒ angle and it should be closer to the net than you. There should be minimal wrist and arm movement. Your head should be low and your knees bent.
For a singles game, position yourself at the edge of the non-volley line opposite your partner. In the beginning, concentrate on getting the ball over the net and dropping it into the non-volley zone. Once you have mastered this, try landing the ball at your opponent’s feet. This will make it difficult for them to return the shot. The next step is dinking from opposite sides of the court. Doing this will enhance your angle dink shots and shot precision. The last drill in one-on-one dinking involves both players playing dink shot from the center of the court. Here they practice dinking from all angles, and return to the center of the court once they have returned a shot.
If you are practicing dinking in a doubles match, play your dink shots only after the serve and play a full game. Landing a shot outside the non-volley zone will cost the team a point.
6. Return to the NVL fast
The ability to return immediately to the non-volley line is a big advantage in pickleball. If your opponent is standing at the non-volley line, they can play a wider range of shots than you. They can afford to play less-precise shots, and if you return the ball too high, they can punish your error. Therefore, it is critical that you return as quickly as you can to the NVL.
Practice the start of the game with your opponent. Try serving deep down the middle of the court and then go back to the NVL. Your opponent will try returning the shot deep before you can reach the NVL. Practice the first three consecutive shots in this manner, and then do it again.
Groundstrokes force your opponent out of their normal position and drive them to the back of court. Playing a well-placed groundstroke after a serve or return offers you an early advantage. Practice your groundstrokes with your partner by standing on your respective left sides. Then do it from your respective right sides. Aim to place the ball just inside the boundary line. Try playing your groundstrokes down the right and left lines of the court.
8. Lob shots and overhead shots
Once you are done with dinking and groundstrokes, practice lobbing. One player can stand at the baseline and deliver a lob shot and the other can practice their overhead shots. The one hitting the lob shots must aim to place the ball between the NVL and the ¾ court. The one hitting the overhead shots must return them so that they can be lobbed back again. Do this drill for about 30-40 lobs.
Hone your volleying skills by standing at the NVL and hitting volleys at each other. Start by hitting soft shots and gradually increase your force and speed.
Work on your backhand by having your partner deliver shots at your backhand repeatedly. Also, find out different ways to play backhand shots and incorporate them in your game.