Drilling in Pickleball
Dedication and Drilling in Pickleball
We have all seen images of a player bent over, breathing through gritted teeth, sweat streaming out of their every pore, while digging deep for the last drop of tenacity they possess during some grueling exercise…just one, more, set.
Or maybe it’s the reverberating “Again…again…” of that scene from the movie Miracle, when Coach Herb Brooks skates his team into oblivion. No matter what type of mental imagery it is that gets your competitive juices flowing, the bottom line is that it all comes down to two things: repetition and drills.
Pickleball is no exception. As any pro player or clinician will tell you, the key to advancing and improving on the court is drilling more than you play.
Ditching the Drilling Doldrums
So why is it that we still go out week after week, playing day after day and hour upon hour in a long string of competitive or recreational games, only to wonder why we lack command over the ball with the power and accuracy of Tyson McGuffin?
Maybe if drilling were as cathartic or entertaining as hoisting a medal or grinning at your club nemesis as you tap paddles after pickling them, clinching the best 2 out of 3, we would all be more dedicated to making it a routine.
What if there’s a better way to shake up drills and find a way of enjoying muscle memory invoking repetition? Cue recommendations!
Six Ways to Shake Up Pickleball Drilling
1. Make it a competition – whether stakes involve a decadent ice cream sundae, round of ice cold refreshing adult beverages, new gear, or a handful of former presidents, there are few options that give you and your drilling buddy (-ies) more incentive to make consistent cross-court dinks than a prize and bragging rights.
2. Shake up the location – where in the world is pickleball practice? Make it a priority to locate a few walls in your local community whose owners won’t mind you working on your backhand, forehand, volleys, control of alternating hard/soft shots, or otherwise making that telltale rhythmic popping sound we’ve come to know and love. Bonus points for avoiding being spotted by your pickleball pals!
3. Add a group outing – “if we drill for just one hour twice a week as a group, we’ll head to the local establishment (insert restaurant of choice)”, of course enjoying full plates, fuller bellies, and a sense of pride for having put some work in on the court never hurt anyone. You can even alternate snack responsibilities on a sunny Saturday, bringing baked goods or couture charcuterie and cold ones, or combine with a pool party and cookout. The choice is yours; just make sure it’s fun and inclusive.
4. Get the club involved – getting the club involved means that you have more people, more resources (balls, ball machine, etc.), and can set up stations on a routine day of the week from which everyone can benefit. You can even suggest drill day tournaments where you team up and compete against others, winners being those who make the least mistakes.
5. Do different drills – rather than always resorting to dingles, skinny singles, or cutthroat – get creative while finding other ways to work on key skills, like “H-O-R-S-E” (using buckets placed strategically on the court and trying to sink the ball using different types of shots; drops, lobs, resets, or blocks), cone bowling using topspin/backspin/overhead smashes, volley dueling from varying distances, Skeeball inspired return of serves (using pool noodles or chalk lines to mark off different point-value zones)…the possibilities are endless!
The Selkirk TV Youtube Channel puts out 2-4 Lesson Videos per week with drills from Tyson McGuffin and other pickleball pros so you can always be prepared with fun and new drills!
6. Take ownership – have each participant come up with a drill for the group, then have them lead/demonstrate the technique. Making variety a goal will help everyone to get involved, stay accountable, and bring new things to the courts that help you feel more engaged. Set up stations featuring each leader’s drills, and rotate so you can make the most of each featured skill and keep the experience fresh.