It is not easy to always have a pickleball player readily available to practice with you. And if you are having trouble finding a practice partner, you have come to the right place!
In this article, we will discuss six tips for practicing pickleball solo. Practicing pickleball alone will help you develop important techniques and level up your game for higher-level tournaments, and all you need is a paddle and a ball.
So, without further ado, let’s dive in!
6 Solo Drills To Practice Pickleball
If you find yourself stuck at home due to bad weather or don’t have a drill partner, you can use precious solo time and play pickleball alone.
You can squeeze in these realistic practice drills between sessions to enhance your pickleball skills.
Let’s start with some wall pickleball drills. Spending 15 minutes against a wall daily will drastically improve your game and teach you how to absorb a hit and attack back.
For these, you have to make three boxes in a horizontal line on the wall with duct tape and follow the solo pickleball drills:
1. Dink Drill
There are three levels for this drill. They are:
- Get ready with your pickleball paddle and hit the ball while aiming for the middlebox. Try to hit the box as many times as you can.
- The next level is to hit a backhand stroke, touch the box’s right side, and hit a forehand while aiming for the left side. This will involve some side-to-side movement.
- For the last drill, you hit the middlebox, and as the ball bounces back, you let it go behind you and then take a shot. This will help because hitting a ball when it goes past you is tough.
2. Volley Accuracy Drill
This drill will simply involve volleying the ball off the wall back and forth. You can aim for a particular box to improve the accuracy of your pickleball serve. You can play from a distance of 7 feet from the wall, which is the non-volley zone on a pickleball court.
You can try variations of this drill where you double tap the ball off the paddle and then hit it on the wall.
Pro tip: Practice shorter strokes during volley drills because if you hit a long shot, your body will not be able to get back in time for a counterattack.
3. Dink. Attack. Reset!
Practice hitting the right box. Dink the ball accurately off it, then attack in a fast motion, absorb the ball, and reset. Resetting the ball means hitting it at a lower level and not giving your opponent a chance to attack, instead of hitting the ball upwards, which will give your opponent a chance to hit down on you.
To increase the difficulty level, you should dink, attack, and reset the ball while moving from the right to the left direction.
You can also increase the number of attacks. For example, dink the ball, attack, counter, and reset.
Let’s say you make four attack shots, then you may face difficulty in tracking the ball. Or you move closer to the wall, and the ball moves too fast to trace. In this situation, keep your eyes on the ball, and don’t worry about hitting the right spot on the wall.
4. Volley On The Move
For this drill, your goal is to hit each box at the center and move back and forth among them. As an alternate, you can change the frequency of your shots. For example, you hit the left box twice, then move to the middle, and hit the right box twice.
Or, along with the boxes, you can make the space between them a target and hit them too, while alternating between forehand and backhand shots.
With this, we have come to an end of wall drills. Next, we will look at some solo pickleball drills that you can do either at a pickleball/tennis court or home. The only gear you need for these is a paddle and a ball.
Before starting, do some stretches and warm-up exercises to get the blood flowing. Let’s start!
5. Solo Dink Drill
For this drill, you can either practice on a pickleball court or set up an object (a chair, garbage can, etc.) to act as a net line. You have to dink the ball on either side of the net by lunging back and forth. Be sure to bend your knees, not your back.
As you start to get the hang of it, move further away from the pickleball net. As you move away from the net, the drill becomes more complex. Instead of lunging, you have to shuffle from side to side, improving your leg movements. Keep a relaxed grip on the handle to work on your soft touch.
This drill will help with the most important aspects of a pickleball game: touch, ball control, and maneuverability. It will also help to strengthen your core and legs.
6. Paddle Bump
Fix your feet on the ground and bump the ball on your paddle by swinging it up and down. Your goal is to hit the ball at the center of the paddle. Set a target to bump the ball X times in a row without dropping it.
To increase the difficulty, alternate between a backhand and forehand shot while bumping the ball. Again, set a target for yourself.
The more advanced version of this drill would be to do a forehand bump twice, then a double bump on the edge of the paddle, and end with a double backhand shot. Do this for N number of times.
When playing pickleball against someone, you must be quick on your feet and think fast. So, if you do the practice drills repeatedly, your brain forms a muscle memory triggered when you play a match. Due to the increased efficiency of memory and motor systems, you can hit the ball with very little effort.
You can modify these drills or add new steps to invent endless pickleball drills. Hopefully, these drills will prove to be effective in improving your game when you are training for a pickleball game.