Here is the Best Pickleball Drill you can do to improve your game and win more points. Yes, this drill is used by many professional pickleball players, gold medal champions, and I simply call it “Jennifer’s Favorite Drill.”
And you know what? It is the perfect drill for any age or skill level. All you need are two players of relatively equal skill level, half a pickleball court, and then game on!
This was first posted in October of 2020 when most courts were closed, or if they were open you could only play with family members. No problem, this Best Pickleball Drill is COVID Compliant! I recently did a quick video showing this very drill with my husband.
Check out this video, then below is the HOW TO
This drill has several variations and probably several different names, but this is my spin on it and what has worked for my success.
- Play to 11-points, win by two. You must keep score – you want that pressure!
- The “server” starts at the kitchen line. The server calls the score; they call their score first, and then the opponents score.
- The receiver is back on the baseline. The server serves the ball underhand deep to start the half-court rally. Rally begins.
- If the server serves out, in the net, or in the NVZ, the point is awarded to the receiver. (Server must focus).
- If the server wins the rally, they are not awarded a point but do move back to the baseline to receive. If the person who started on the baseline (the receiver) wins the rally, they win a point and stay at the baseline for the next rally.
- So the goal is to continue to be the receiver (back on the baseline) which is the only place you can earn a point.
Want more of a challenge? Play a total of four games -two games straight ahead (play one on both the left and right side of the court) and then play diagonally (again, alternating sides). This will equally allow forehands and backhands for both players. GAME ON!
“Why is this drill so great, Jennifer?”
- It really makes you think … how can I get myself to the kitchen line? Or how can I keep my opponent back on the baseline? How can I use an angle?
- Have to get myself set up, in position to execute the shot.
- What shot do I need at this moment to … move forward, buy myself some time, set up the play, or win the point?
- Your reflexes will also get a workout.
- You will quickly recognize – or get hit – if/when you hit “attackable” balls to your opponent.
- No mentally checking out, because you need to focus on every shot, just like a real game.
- The pressure is on to focus and make each shot. Whatever it takes to win the point. Just like when you’re playing your gold medal match at the end of a long tournament day. The crowd is on the edge of their seat, witnessing your amazing, laser-focused play. You’ve felt this pressure before because you’ve done this drill a hundred times. You now know the shot to make. Enjoy the victory!
- Best of all, without a partner, you have to play every ball so it’s a wonderful workout!
You are a winner!
Please share with other players or your club to continue the improvement and success with your pickleball game.
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Check out this FUN video:
I Wanna Dink with Somebody – be entertained
17 comments on “Best Pickleball Drill”
Just happened to see this and I agree, this is one of my FAVE and regular drills I love to do!!! I done it both singles and also in doubles, especially to help me read a good drop to follow in and poach on, or to practice the “shake and bake” play as well.
One variation we do if we’re not doing singles is we change it to cross as well as straight on, just for a different angle.
And we use this drill when we have 3 players–one is at the NVZL on one half of the court, while the other 2 are at the BL. They have to drop/drive to the player on their half, while the person at the NVZL can hit it anywhere on the court. It really forces you to have control when you are forced to hit to one half of the court. If the person at the NVZL losses the rally, then we rotate. If the NVZL wins the rally, he moves to the other side and feeds it from there. So the team at the BL get to try and drop to both sides of the court.
Sharing this to our club!!!
Stay well….later! Ernie
Hi Jennifer and Brandon. Looks like a great drill. Can’t wait to try it tomorrow. Thanks. Mike and Kathy.
P.S. why didn’t you tell us that Brandon was such a good player?
Hello Mike! Yes, give the drill a go 🙂 Brandon says “he has his moments” ha ha.
Thanks for sharing this drill. I agree that keeping score is essential.
I bet this drill would also work with doubles. It should help partners move together as a team as they try to advance to the NVL. In my training sessions I’m thinking of starting the drill with side-by-side singles to observe and assist players individually and then shift to doubles to bring it another step closer to game conditions. And then finish with a game.
Tellico Village, TN
Hello Dave, both those ideas are fabulous! Yes with singles side by side, each pair working their side of the court, and then move to doubles, with one team up. LOVE IT! Feel free to post your results and feedback here and we can pass your additional drills to others.
Definitely works with doubles–in fact, this drill is one of our regular drills we do. We do 2 different versions. The first one, we only do to 5 points. We call it the “3-3-drill”. The reason we call it that is that we have to do 3 drops (minimum, as a doubles team) from the baseline, then 3 drops from the TZ, and then move to the NVZL. This allows us to get a LOT of drops from each spot, the BL and the TZ. The reason we do it only to 5 pts is because some of my drill-mates said they got used to staying on the BL after they hit a drop and didn’t move forward! (For me, it doesn’t mess me up–I can adjust no problem, but others said they got used to staying back so….we only go to 5 points).
Then we switch to “1-n-go” where it’s essentially Jen’s drill, except in doubles format. Same set-up and start and rules. If the feed goes to my partner, I start moving into the TZ, watching the quality of my partner’s drop or drive, and then judge accordingly if I should continue up, stay, or move back. This helps me to read his drops–if I see his drop is causing the opponent to reach down to volley or half-volley dink off the ground, I am moving to the “T” hard to get ready for a pop-up or poach on that nice drop. If I see the drop is high and attackable, I stay or move back, and prepare to defend and reset. This is how we can also practice the “shake and bake” play as well. If my partner gets a short feed and can drive it nicely (low and good pace), I’m moving to the line to look for any pop-up to smash down or poach on.
So yes, it’s a great drill to practice with doubles!
Thanks much for keeping the Blog going! We need the contact for fun and instruction. I have played Skinny Singles. This video was a nice twist on such. Any chance for you and Brandon to have a singles match for us to see? He seems to have good skills. Thanks.
Hey John, glad you are enjoying the drill. Brandon says that was enough that he had to go on camera with me for the drill, he prefers behind the scenes, ha ha!
Hi and thanks for the reply. Come on Brandon! Battle of the Sexes 2 ! Remember Simone vs Scott Moore? If not Jennifer, how about a singles with Alex? Get Rusty for commentary and a ref. Would be great !
Great explanation! We play a variation of this called 7-11. Rally scoring. Server (at net) begins at net for entire game, while receiver starts at baseline for entire game, then they switch for the next game. The server has an advantage since they are starting at the net. The receiver is trying to work their way up. Due to the advantage, the server must earn 11 points to win the game, but the receiver only has to get 7 points to win. Of course it’s played on half the court, so it really helps with shot placement and of course drop shots or other strategies for approaching the net. Thanks for sharing your favorite drill, Jennifer!
Hey Anne, I love it! Great share and good to have different ways to practice and get your workout on the courts. Keep up the FUN!
Jennifer, come visit us in The Villages! The courts are open for 12 players at a time and we are happy to be back! Always looking for a fun way to practice so thanks for the new drill!
Susan, you are welcome. YES, I love The Villages, so good to hear courts are opening up for your FUN!
Great drill! I got to do this drill and it really helps the entire game and it’s a great workout. I would also say it’s a great way to warm up too.
Hey Danny, YES I agree. Thanks for the note and enjoy this fun drill!
Very helpful since we’re only allowed to play singles (so far) here in Laguna Niguel, CA. and this forces each of us to play the net instead of just base lining the game.
Yes Peggy, enjoy your new drill 🙂