Pickleball is like the wild wild west — the quickest hands win the day. The moment someone speeds up the ball, they’re firing the first shot of a hands battle. And if you’re slow on the draw, your opponents will have no fear in challenging you to battle after battle knowing they have the upperhand. Hand speed is the skill that separates the duds from the studs.
You can improve your hand speed by doing these two simple drills with a partner.
Volleying in the kitchen
This drill is simple, but difficult. You and your partner will stand at the kitchen line across from each other. You’ll start with slow volleys and then speed up your hits over time.
As you speed you, you’ll each take tiny steps toward the net, into the kitchen. This may be the only time we’ll encourage you to plant yourself in the kitchen. It’ll feel icky, but that’s the point.
You should volley faster and faster, stepping closer and closer to each other. The ball will feel incredibly fast when you’re this close. You’re increasing your capacity to handle the heat.
When you back up to the kitchen line for regular volleys, you’ll feel like Neo in the Matrix. OK, the ball may not be that slow, but your perception will change and so will your game.
Figure eight volleying
If volleying in the kitchen will get you quicker hands, then the figure eight drill will give you better control with that quickness.
In the figure eight volley drill, one person always volleys crossbody and the other person volleys straight back to the person’s side where they hit it from. So the pattern of hits would be forehand, forehand, backhand, backhand, repeat. Hence, the figure eight.
It’s a tough drill, so take your time to get the pattern right before you start speeding up the ball. It’ll help you improve your control and accuracy for hand battles.
The drill also helps you simulate gameplay because it works your forehand and backhand rather than letting you get too comfortable by making the same shot over and over.
What drill helps you increase your hand speed?