As pickleball players most of us understand the importance of drilling – of working repetitively on some facet of our game and committing the [correct] technique to muscle memory so that we can confidently call on that particular shot under pressure in a real match.
Finding somewhere and someone with whom to drill, however, can be challenging in-and-of-itself. After all, a successful drilling session is typically dependent upon weather, partner availability, a similarly skilled partner – and, of course – at least in 2020 – self-distancing requirements.
Fortunately, there are several wall drills that you can incorporate into your practice sessions that you can do by yourself. All you need is a wall and a little bit of space.
The Basement or Garage Setup for Solo Wall Drills
The basement or garage is a great option when searching for a wall and space. If you don’t have an available wall – a piece of plywood for the make-shift wall – while not ideal – will work just fine.
Once you found or “made” your wall, the “court” setup should include the following:
- Horizontal line taped on the wall 36″ above the floor (simulating the net height at the highest part of the net near the posts). The width of the “net” should be 6’ – 8’. This should give you ample room for the drills.
- Kitchen line taped 7 feet from the wall
- A line that goes from the wall to the kitchen line that splits the left side of the “court” from the right side of the “court.”
- A line (just an inch or two in length) that can be marked 12’, 17’ and 22’ feet from the wall
Add a Taped Target Area for your Drills
Whenever you practice or drill, it’s very important that you practice or drill with intention. With intentionality in mind, we are going to create a “target area.” Once again with painters tape or chalk, mark off a line parallel to the kitchen line that is five feet from the wall – or two feet in front of the kitchen line.
We have now created our court.
Pickleball Dink Drills Using the Wall
The following drills will help you hit dinks that are deep and land at your opponent’s feet. These are fairly aggressive dinks that will force your opponent to bend down quickly – and, hopefully, pop up their next shot.
- Forehand dinks from the kitchen line that land between the 5’ line and the 7’ kitchen line. The 2 feet target area will simulate hitting intentional dinks that land near the feet of your opponent. See how many in-a-row you can land in the target area. Try to do 10 in-a-row.
- Backhand dinks from the kitchen line that land between the 5’ line and the 7’ kitchen line.
- Alternate forehand and backhand dinks that land between the 5’ line and the 7’ kitchen line. This particular drill simulates the cross-court dinks. As you hit your forehand, make sure the ball lands in the left court (if you’re right-handed) and in the right-court after you hit your backhand. This drill will require to slide step (don’t cross over) when executing the dinks and will help build your cardio!
Wall Dink Drills with Smaller Targets
Up to this point, we have been using the 2’ area between the 5’ line and the 7’ kitchen line for our target area. Now let’s make the target area smaller.
Put a plastic cup anywhere between the 5’ line and the 7’ kitchen line and try to knock it down with your dink:
- Forehand dinks from the kitchen line trying to knock down the plastic cup. See if you can knock the cup down with 10 dinks, 5 dinks. How many times can you knock the cup down within 60 seconds?
- Backhand dinks from the kitchen line trying to knock down the plastic cup.
- Alternating forehand and backhand dinks from the kitchen line trying to knock down the plastic cup.
Pickleball Volley Drills Using the Wall
Having fast hands – while still being controlled – is critical when positioned at the kitchen line. The following drills work on both.
For each of the following volley drills, compete against yourself. For example, how many in a row can you do without letting the ball bounce? How much time elapses before the ball hits the ground?
- Forehand volleys from the 5’ line
- Forehand volleys from the 7’ kitchen line
- Backhand volleys from the 5’ line
- Backhand volleys from the 7’ kitchen line
- Alternating Forehand & Backhand volleys from the 5’ line
- Alternating Forehand & Backhand volleys from the 7’ kitchen line
2-Touch Volley Wall Drills
Two-touch volley drills will help you with paddle control and touch. It will help “soften” your hands so that you can more effectively – when on the “real” court – take the pace off your opponent’s hard-hit volleys or drives.
With 2-touch volleys, the idea is to execute volleys (never let the ball hit the ground) and “tap” the ball to yourself (by absorbing the pace of the ball) and then – without letting the ball bounce – volley it back to yourself. That’s one. Now, keep going and see how many of the following you can do in a row.
- Forehand 2-touch volleys from the 7’ kitchen line
- Backhand 2-touch volleys from the 7’ kitchen line
- Alternating Forehand & Backhand volleys from the 7’ kitchen line
A final set of wall drills – that incorporate an empty shoebox – will help with your more delicate dinks and drop shots. For the following drills, tape an empty shoebox approximately 2 inches above the taped net line so that the top of the box (without a lid) is facing upwards. Then mark off a couple of additional lines (perhaps with a piece of tape that is simply 2” long) at the 12’ mark from the wall and the 17’ mark from the wall. If you have space, you can go all the way to 22’ as this would be the court length from net to baseline.
With these drills, feed a ball to yourself so that you can hit the next shot (the drop shot) from the various distances. Attempt to land the ball into the shoebox from these different lengths.
- Forehand drop shops into the shoebox from the 7’ kitchen line
- Forehand drop shots into the shoebox from 12’
- Forehand drop shots into the shoebox from 17’
- Backhand drop shops into the shoebox from the 7’ kitchen line
- Backhand drop shots into the shoebox from 12’
- Backhand drop shots into the shoebox from 17’
>>Looking for 3-Person Drills? Find Them Here<<
No court? No problem! Hopefully, these wall drills will help with your dinking, drop shot, and volley muscle memory. Make sure there’s intentionality as you do them. It’s also critical that you are using proper technique – minimized backswing, lifting motion, light grip pressure, and contact in front for your dinks and drops. Similarly, for your volleys, make sure you contact the ball in front (especially watch for that on the forehand volley) and that you get back to the ready position after each volley.
As you do these drills, always challenge yourself. How many in a row can you do? How many can you do in 60 seconds? You’re bound to see rapid improvement.
And finally, if you don’t have a wall, check out the video below for a DIY option.
See you on the wall!