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Game-Based Drills

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Whether you’re a social player going to open play or one who competes in a few tournaments a month, we all want our game to improve, right? Typically, do we drill? No. Drilling isn’t fun or challenging and sometimes the repetition can develop bad habits.

One of the biggest complaints is from players who want to get better but don’t have anyone willing to drill with them. This is where creating game-based drills can be fun and good for you!

For example, if you want to work on dinking skills, you could dink back and forth, trying to get 100 in a row without missing. But, is this what you would do in a regular game of pickleball? Nope. Instead create a game where you dink, but if you think you can attack a ball, then go for it. Also try to be creative with the scoring—if you successfully block and reset the ball, you get 1 point; if you hit a clean winner, you get 2 points—you see where I am going. Award points for “winning” pickleball shots.

Next, add more realistic scenarios. How do you transition to the non-volley zone line? Well then, let’s jump right to that and take out the serve and return. One person stands at the NVZ line and feeds a ball and you have to work your way in—you get 2 points for a clean winner drive, and if your opponent successfully keeps you away from the line for 3 consecutive shots, you lose the point.

WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU HAVE THREE PEOPLE?
Two players against one player

In this game, Players 2 and 3 are competing against Player 1.

This game is played in the NVZ and points are scored when a point is won.

The game ends when one side reaches a predetermined score (example, first to 7).

At the end of the game, players rotate positions:

• Player 1 moves to Player 3’s spot
• Player 3 to Player 2’s spot
• Player 2 to Player 1’s spot
...and the game starts again.

Once all players have been on a side by themselves:

• Player 1 moves to the left side of the NVZ and the game starts again.

In another game, use tape to create specific areas within the NVZ to force the side with two players to really hit consistent dinks. Player 1 will learn to either attack or reset the ball.

The goal of this game is to work on the soft game and recognize an opportunity to attack. It’s great for doubles partnerships because it teaches how to effectively work the point against one player.

Be creative and use alternative scoring to reward the shots that need work in your game. Changing the rules of the game makes you think about shot selection and will replicate actual pickleball game play.

Sneaking the dreaded drilling into fun games is like sneaking beets into brownies. It’s GOOD for you!