Some fans of The Art of Pickleball have asked me to publish a book cataloguing the many kinds of pickleball drills. I don’t have current plans to do that, but in the meantime, I’ll share this much.
While practice of any kind will help you reach a higher level, like it or not, drills are particularly helpful because:
1) They provide good practice without the pressure of a game, and
2) Whatever your level, you’ll get more practice in the same amount of time when concentrating on just one thing at a time.
Some players have a weekly regimen of drills they do to keep them on top of their game. Some work strictly on elements that need improvement. Some split their time doing both.
I believe drills are best used to focus on what you do poorly to make that your strength. Maybe you always miss your drop shot, or lobs always go long. You know what your problem areas are—but you probably don’t know what you’re doing incorrectly that causes the problems or what to do to fix them. (If you did, you wouldn’t still be making the error!)
If you decide to correct a problem using drills that target that issue, great—but drilling incorrectly can reinforce bad habits, so when you begin drills, ask a coach or trainer to watch you play. If that’s not possible, have a friend watch or, better yet, shoot a video of you in motion. You may be able to identify what you’re doing wrong and fix it yourself.
Once you know what you should work on and how to do it properly, choose drills that target that skill. (You can find many great drills on the Internet.) The hardest thing when learning something new or correcting the manner in which you play is concentrating on multiple things at the same time. This is where that “third partner” comes in handy again. Sometimes in our focus to do one thing differently, we forget other things. If you’re working on getting that drop shot just over the net, for example, you’ll know whether or not you succeeded by where the ball lands, but your partner can tell you that you turned your body or didn’t follow through.
Gale Leach lives in Arizona with her husband, two dogs, and one cat. When she's not writing pickleball tips, she's working on the second in a new series of novels for young adults, a fifth book in the "Bruce" children's series, and updating The Art of Pickleball.