Jordan's Personal Drill/Workout Routine

#1 Dinking Domination (straight ahead)

First, meet your partner at the NVZ (non-volley zone) line, as you will start off with dinks. Have one player feed the ball, and then play a game to 5 points, win by 1 (rally scoring).

Rules: Once the ball is fed, it is a live ball! As long as the ball stays in bounds on the side that you are dinking on, then keep dinking! Remember, this is a dinking game/drill, so NO drives, speed ups, or lobs. And no, your dinks don’t have to land into the NVZ. Make sure to move your dinks towards your opponent’s forehand, backhand, and body so that you’re not always dinking to the same spot. Also, be sure to move around the depth of your dinks by hitting short into the NVZ, and also by hitting deeper dinks, some even being hit past the NVZ, to force your opponent to make quick decisions.

*Pro Tip: Aim for your opponent’s weakness.

#2 Dinking Domination (even side, cross-court)

Same dinking rules as the straight ahead dinking drill. Play to 5 points, and remember, your goal is to win! But seriously, make sure that you make drilling fun. Every time you drill, play with a point format so that you can feel PRESSURE. Try to be consistent and do your best to make good decisions, and if the score is tight (4-4), remember to play the highest percentage shot!

#3 Dinking Domination (odd side, cross-court)

Backhand time (if you're a righty)! Time to work on your backhand slice. Backhand to backhand dink battles happen often in high level play because it’s a very high percentage shot! Most players don’t attack as well from their backhand side compared to their forehand, so the backhand cross-court dink is a great shot to have. Play to 5 points, and may the best player win! Remember, with all of these dink drills, your goal is to get better and more consistent each time. As you get better, you will see your rallies get longer.

*Pro Tip: Just because you are mostly drilling your backhand dink in this drill, this doesn’t mean that you can’t hit towards their forehand (towards the middle of the court). It’s always good to move the ball around to different targets, no matter what side you are on!

#4 Dinking Domination (straight ahead, other side)

Now it’s time to dink straight ahead again. First to 5 points. You should now be pretty warmed up at this point. Remember when dinking straight ahead, the net is higher. Make sure to give the ball a little extra height, so that you clear the net. Make sure to move the ball around the NVZ, and try to place the ball away from your opponent, to make them stretch or reach.

#5 Victorious Volleys (straight ahead)

It’s time to volley! This is more of a cooperative/competitive drill. Both players start at the NVZ line. Have one player feed the ball straight towards the other player’s torso. The goal of this drill is to control the ball. See how many volleys you can hit back and forth to your friend. For beginners, have a goal of 10 volleys in a row. For intermediate players, try to get 20-30. For more advanced players, see if you can get 100 volleys without letting the ball touch the ground!

*Pro Tip: To give yourself another challenge, try to aim at specific targets (i.e. opponent’s forehand, backhand, or body).

Duration: 2-3 minutes

#6 Victorious Volleys (even side, cross-court)

Even side time! Head over to the even side of the court. Have someone feed the ball, and game on! Remember, the goal is to get as many repetitions (hits) as you can, before letting the ball hit the ground. Work as a team, and set new personal records!

Duration: 2-3 minutes

#7 Victorious Volleys (odd side, cross-court)

Now move to the odd side of the court. Make sure to keep your strokes short and compact, quickly getting back to ready position after every single volley. The more you drill, the better you and your partner will become. Remember, volleying cross court is much harder to control than volleying straight ahead. Bend your knees, try to stay low to the ground, and try not to grip the paddle too tight. Have a light to medium grip pressure so that you can feel the ball come off of your paddle, and also to avoid fatigue in your paddle hand.

Duration: 2-3 minutes

#8 Rabid Resets (straight ahead)

This is probably the hardest drill/exercise in this workout. One player will start at the NVZ, and the other will start in the transition zone (in between the NVZ line and the baseline). The player at the NVZ line will feed the ball to the player in the transition zone, and that player should do their best to hit every ball into the NVZ. The player at the NVZ should try to hit every ball towards the feet of the player in the transition zone. Play to 5 points, rally scoring. After someone reaches 5 points, switch roles. You will quickly find out the extreme advantage of the player at the NVZ line. This is how this drill is designed. The player at the NVZ should be more on the offense, and the player in the transition zone should be defending as they block and reset each ball into the NVZ.

*For lower levels, play 3-5 feet behind the NVZ line. The further you go back in the transition zone, the harder it will be to control the ball.

#9 Rabid Resets (even and odd side, cross-court)

Do this same drill on both the even and the odd side of the court. Remember, play competitively to 5 points, win by 1. After someone reaches 5 points, switch roles. If you are just starting out, it may seem impossible to score from the transition zone. As you get better, you will find that your resetting skills will increase and the points will be much longer. As for the player at the NVZ, this is a great time to work on targeting your opponent’s feet with topspin drives and/or rolls. If you don’t know how to hit with topspin yet, just try your best to keep the ball at the feet of the player in the transition zone. This will force them to make the decision of volleying the ball, or letting the ball bounce. Also work on stretching them to their forehand and backhand side. Don’t hit the ball right towards them. Try to make them reach by hitting your ball closer towards the sidelines or towards the center line.

*Pro Tip: Just because you are the player playing in the transition zone, this doesn't mean that you can't attack from there. If your opponent hits you a high, attackable ball, make them pay and attack that ball down at their feet or away from them!

#10 Trusty Third Shots Drops (straight ahead)

Now we move on to the famous 3rd shot drop. Game will be played to 5 points, win by 1. One person will start at the NVZ line, and the other will start at the baseline. The player at the NVZ line will feed the ball, and the player at the baseline will try their best to hit as many 3rd shot drops in a row as they can. The goal for each player is to get to 5 points first. This means that the player at the baseline should try to give themselves enough margin for error so that they don’t hit their ball into the net. As for the player at the NVZ, they should try to hit the ball as deep as they can, with as much spin and pace as they can. Their goal should be to try to force their opponent to hit the ball into the net, or to force a high ball that they can put away.

#11 Trusty Third Shots Drops (even and odd side, cross-court)

Time to hit cross-court! When hitting your 3rd shot drops cross court, you will have more margin for error, especially when hitting over the middle of the net. Same rules apply from the last drill. Remember to give yourself margin over the net. Don’t try to hit a perfect 3rd shot that lands into the kitchen every single time. Actually, the most effective 3rd shot drops will land a lot closer to the NVZ line, and some may even land past the NVZ. 3rd shot drops that land near the NVZ line force your opponent to make multiple decisions. First, they will have to decide if they want to volley the ball, or let the ball bounce. Secondly, they must decide if they want to step back and hit the ball, or if they want to stay right up at that NVZ line. Drilling this shot is SO important, especially when you get into the more advanced levels of play. You MUST have a good 3rd shot drop to neutralize your opponent’s advantage at the NVZ line.

#12 Super Serves (& Returns)

Now it’s time to work on those serves and returns. This is probably the skill that is the least practiced by recreational players. Developing your serve into a weapon can transform your game. Now this doesn’t have to mean putting a crazy amount of spin on the ball, this could just mean practicing getting your serves to land deeper. The same goes for the return. As important as the serve is, I would say the return is just as important. The quality of your return will affect how easy (or hard) it will be for your opponents to get up to the NVZ line. Take turns serving and returning from both the even side, and the odd side. You can even set up some cones so that you can see how close your ball lands to the target that you are aiming for. Make sure to practice serving towards your opponent’s forehand, backhand, and also towards their body. For the returns, make sure you practice returning down the line, cross-court, and also towards the middle of the court. Remember, the most important aspect of serving and returning is to hit them deep into the court. Make sure to have a bucket/basket of balls!

Duration: 5-7 minutes

#13 Overloaded Overheads (straight ahead)

Now let’s move on to the smash, everyone’s favorite shot! This is more of a cooperative drill. One player will start at the baseline, and the other will start up at the NVZ line. This will be played straight ahead, on one half of the court. The player at the baseline will feed a lob to the player at the NVZ. The player at the NVZ will hit an overhead smash towards the player at the baseline, and will try to directly target them while trying to keep the ball deep. The baseline player will then throw up another high lob, and the cycle will continue. After the player at the NVZ hits 10 overheads, switch roles so that your partner can hit some too. Try to see how many lobs/smashes that you and your partner can get in a row.

*For more beginner players, just feed a high ball to the player at the NVZ, let them hit the ball, and catch the ball and start over. Another good way to do this is to have a basket/bucket of balls, so that you don’t have to go chasing the ball each time. After you feed all the balls, pick them up and switch roles so that the other player has a chance to practice their overheads.

Duration: 2-3 minutes (or try to hit 10-15 overheads each)

#14 Overloaded Overheads (cross-court, both sides)

Now it’s time to practice hitting overheads cross-court. You will start out the same way as the previous drill. Have the baseline player feed the ball, and play on! Try to see how many lobs/smashes that you and your partner can get in a row.

*Pro Tip: Hitting overheads cross-court can be very different than hitting them straight ahead. When you hit a ball cross-court (especially an overhead), you will have access to angles that you didn’t have when hitting the ball straight ahead. This is a great time to try to practice those angled overhead shots. Try to take a little pace off of the ball when you hit this shot, as you will not be hitting this ball as hard as you can. Also, try to get your left shoulder (if you’re a righty) pointed towards your target. Hit the ball high, out in front, and follow through towards your target.

Duration: 1-3 minutes (or try to hit 10-15 overheads each)

#15 Overloaded Overheads (straight ahead, other side)

Now line up on the same side as your partner, on the other side. In this last overhead drill, you will be hitting overheads straight on again. Remember, footwork is key. Don’t back pedal for the ball. This can cause you to trip and fall, and can cause serious injuries. Instead, drop your dominant foot back so that your shoulders are perpendicular to the NVZ line. At this point, you can now shuffle your feet back to get into the right position. Then, as you make contact and follow through, your shoulders should naturally end up parallel to the NVZ line.

Duration: 1-3 minutes (or try to hit 10-15 overheads each)

#16 Devastating Drives

For this last and final drill in this workout, you will work on your drives (groundstrokes). Both you and your partner will head to the baseline, towards the middle of the court. One player will feed the ball deep, and then you will try to hit groundstrokes back and forth, as deep as you can. The goal is to consistently get the ball deep, right back to your partner. As you improve, your rallies should get longer. Besides the serve and the return, hitting groundstrokes is a skill that definitely is not practiced enough. Practicing this will greatly improve your returns and your 3rd shot drives. These are very important shots as you grow and develop into a complete player.

*For more beginner players, start 4-8 feet inside the baseline. Try to learn how to control and hit the ball right towards your target (your partner). Start off by hitting the ball at a controlled slow/medium pace. As you improve, you can hit the ball harder and faster, and work your way back behind the baseline.

Duration: 5-7 minutes

WRAP UP

You've reached the end to our "pathway to success" drilling session! These are the actual drills that I do when I'm out on the court. Remember, it takes hard work to get to that next level, especially if you've been "stuck" at the same level for a while. Unfortunately, drilling alone won't guarantee leveling up success. Although it is a great start, and in most cases, it will immediately level up your game within a few months. Along with drilling, technique and strategy are the two other pillars for leveling-up success. Check out our Youtube videos for strategy tips and pickleball lessons on our channel below!

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