Ground Stroke Drills

Drills – Groundstrokes

 

When performing these drills, work on trying to have long rallies and trying to place the ball deep and near the corner of your opponent’s court. Hit the ball firmly, but do not try to hit so hard that your practice partner can’t return the ball. Give yourself enough margin of error on your shots so that you are keeping most of them inside the lines.

 

Drills For all Players

These drills are the easiest because you are hitting the ball back to where it came from and are doing so without being on the run. However, after doing all 4 drills you will have practiced forehands and backhands both cross court and down the line from both sides of the court. These drills can be done with two players as described, or you could do them with 4 players keeping two balls going in opposite cross court directions or opposite sidelines.

•Players practice hitting cross court balls to each other from the right side of their respective courts.

•Players practice hitting cross court balls to each other from the left side of their respective courts.

•Players practice hitting down the line on the right side of the court.

•Players practice hitting down the line on the left side of the court.

 

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.

Thanks,

Bob Halpin

 

Drills – Overheads or Smashing

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)

Thanks,

Bob Halpin

 

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 leftside and the rightside 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! However, you should be noticing any particular weakness they have in case you ever play them in a tournament.

Thanks,

Bob Halpin

Drills – Dinks

Drills – Dinking

Information for all Dinking Drills
Whenever you are practicing your dinks, you should try to make all balls bounce in front of the no-volley line and they should be short and low enough that the player    you are practicing with couldn’t kill the ball if he/she wanted to do so. While you    will probably have to step into the no-volley zone to hit a lot of the dinks, you    should immediately step back behind the no-volley zone line before the opposing player    hits the ball.

If you and your partner aren’t able to keep the ball going more than 2 or 3 hits, then    don’t try to keep the ball to low or to short. Its more important as a beginner to keep    the ball going so you can gradually get the feel of how hard to hit. Just keep practicing    as often as you can.

The Short Dink – all skill levels
Both players start by standing in the middle of the court and dinking the ball back and    forth nicely to each other for 3 minutes. If you have 4 players, simply have each pair    of players stand in the middle of their half of the court and each pair use their own    ball.

Both players hit cross court dinks back and forth from one side to another trying to    hit fairly sharp angles to each other. Do this for 3 minutes and then do another 3    minutes cross court in the other direction. Do not try to avoid backhands while doing    these drills as you need to begin developing your backhand dinks even if they don’t    work very well in the beginning. Again if you have 4 players, simply have each pair    of players hit cross court in the opposite direction.

Both players dink the ball down the line on one side of the court for 3 minutes and    then 3 minutes down the line on the other side of the court. With 4 players, each pair    uses a different sideline.

If you have 4 players, you should do this additional drill which is to use only 1 ball    and dink back and forth between all players trying to practice all of the above    directions while doing so. Try to hit 1/2 of the balls back to the player that hit it    to you and 1/2 of the balls back to the other player so you are practicing all    directions again. The more advanced players can spend more time on this drill and less    time on the others. Don’t forget to practice this from both the left and right sides of    the courts so both you and your partner practice both forehands and backhands.

The 3/4 Court Dink – Intermediate and Advanced skill levels
To practice this with 4 players, have 2 players stand at the no-volley zone line and    the other two players stand at about 3/4 court position on their side of the net. The    two players at 3/4 court try to hit soft dinks while the two players at the net position    try to hit the ball back nicely so they can try another dink. After a little while,    reverse positions and practice for an equal amount of time. This might take quite a few    practice sessions or one, but eventually you will get the feel of how hard to hit to    make a good dink. This works just as well with either 2 players or 4 players and don’t    forget that you can practice cross court dinks as well as down the line dinks with this    drill just as you did in the short dink drills.

The Baseline Dink – Advanced skill level
To practice this with 4 players, have 2 players stand at the no-volley zone line and    the other two players stand just behind the baseline  on the other side of the net.    The two players standing just behind the baseline try to hit soft dinks, while the    two players at the net try to hit the ball back nicely and near the baseline. After    a little while, reverse positions and practice for an equal amount of time. This works    just as well with either 2 players or 4 players and don’t forget that you can practice    cross court dinks as well as down the line dinks with this drill just as you did in the    short dink drills.

Dinking Game – all skill levels
To help you concentrate and have some fun while learning the dink, you can play a game    with four players where everyone has to dink and you lose the point if the ball lands    behind the no-volley zone line. You can still play to 11 points, but you have to start    the point nicely to each other for this game to work.

You could also play this game with 2 players, but you would have to agree to use only    1/2 of each side of the court for this to work. You can decide whether to practice this    from down the line sides or cross court sides.

Thanks,

Bob Halpin

Third Shot

Third shot

Posted On April 09, 2013

Marsha from Toledo, OH asks: “I was interested in your thoughts on strategy. I hear so many players talk about the third shot being a soft shot so that your team can get to the kitchen line. What is your take on the third shot and what is your strategy when hitting it?”

Jay from Steamboat Springs, CO asks: “I understand the mechanics of the 3rd shot, drop shot, master shot (whatever its called) but need some help with where to place it to combine a solid strategy with the shot. Help?”

Susan from Northville, MI asks: “I’ve read about mastering a 3rd shot. What are your thoughts?”

Answer by “Jennifer Locore”

Great questions- For our purposes here, I’ll stay with “third shot”. I’ve also heard it referred to different names, but they generally describe the type of shot like “drop shot” or “long dink” opposed to being the actual third shot of a point; admittedly, I’d not heard of the “master shot”.

The third shot is a valuable and necessary shot to master; maybe that’s where that name came from. This shot is used when your opponents are already at the net and you’re at the baseline needing to get yourself to the kitchen line. The third shot is a long dink hit from the baseline softly over the net and into your opponent’s non-volley zone. The goal, often easier said than done, is to land it at their feet not allowing them to volley the ball in the air. When executed correctly this shot allows the person (and their teammate) hitting the third shot to get to the net . The sooner you get to the net, the higher chance of winning the point.

The location of placement is dependent on various scenarios, but the middle is generally the safest and highest percentage; in part because the net is lower, but also because you have more room for error and there is always the chance of confusion on the part of your opponents. If the opportunity presents itself by an opponent being out of position, cross court or down the line can be effective. Lastly, I’m sure you’ve noticed players who “play” to the weaker player. That’s a whole other strategy that may be considered as you decide where or who to hit your third shot too.

Whatever you decide, once the ball leaves your paddle move to the net ready for the elusive pop-up. If you’re ready, you’ll be occasionally gifted a perfectly placed ball ready to be smacked for a winning volley shot. That is a great feeling!

 It’s subtle improvements and consistency that will take you to the next skill level.

National PickleBall Champion

National PickleBall Champion

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