Land of the Sky Tournament information can be found by clicking on the button above.

Newcomers to the site should note the pickleball book "chapters" in the left column and the repository of expert articles and videos in the right column.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

1-2-3 Drill

"The game is just an extension of practice." - Coach Mo

"If You Want to Get Better, Drill.  If You Don’t, Don’t." - Prem Carnot

In short, practice is important, even if it isn't fun. I have made that point in past articles - Drill, Baby, Drill and Practice Makes you Better. But I have neglected that aspect of skill development for quite a while, primarily because I've been focused on playing in tournaments. While skills can - and should - be fine-tuned for tournament play, major changes such as grip changes or introducing new skills such as drop volleys are not advisable. I firmly believe that such changes would temporarily hurt my overall game until they were mastered. Therefore, I wait for the tournament off-season to work on major changes.

My tournament season is now over for several months and I'm ready to work on problem areas. But I won't be in this effort alone. I will be developing some practice routines and drills for myself as well as for others, particularly those who play at Crosswalk. Those players are aware that the mission of Crosswalk is to provide an opportunity for competitive players to drill, play, and improve their game. That work will be fleshed out over the next several weeks. Today's post will focus on a drill that can also be used to identify problems in 3 fundamental aspects of pickleball. The drill comes from an article by Sarah Ansboury called 3 Ball Pickleball Drill: 1-2-3 Drill.

3 Ball Pickleball Drill: 1-2-3 Drill

In recent weeks we have reviewed the serve and the return of serve. Today we add the third shot, bringing it all together with the 3 ball or 1-2-3 drill.


With your practice partner, you are going to practice the 1-2-3 drill hitting cross court shots. Partner A will begin by hitting a deep serve to the spot or target they have chosen. Partner B returns the serve, again attempting to hit the ball deep to a target on the side occupied by the server. To get the most out of this drill, be mindful and intentional with each shot. Just as when you are playing a game your full attention should be on the shot you are currently executing.

After Partner B returns the serve, he or she should move quickly to the non-volley zone, just as they would in a game. Partner A now has two options, drop (cross court) or drive. Regardless of the shot chosen, attempt to hit a specific target.

Drop or Drive

The third shot you choose to hit often is a result of the return of serve. If the return of serve is very deep and
penetrating, you may not feel you have enough confidence to hit a third shot drop in that situation. So it may make more sense to hit a drive. Your best option may be to hit directly at Partner A or down the center of the court. The goal, in this case, is to hit a quality shot low over the net, which sets you up to hit an effective drop shot next.

If the return of serve is weaker and shorter, you would likely want to hit the third shot drop allowing you and your partner to proceed to the non-volley zone line. But again, choose a specific target. Perhaps place a towel on the court, and see how many times you can hit the ball so it bounces on the towel.


After hitting the third shot, you partner is going to catch the ball. Then begin the 1-2-3 drill again, however, this time, Partner B will serve first, Partner A will return serve and Partner B will hit the third shot. The important thing is to remain intentional on each and every shot. As you hit each shot, try to be conscious of your balance and the proper weight transfer into the ball. Remember: back foot…front foot…contact the ball.

1-2-3 Variation

A variation of the 1-2-3 drill is to continue for seven shots. The goal is for you and your practice partner to hit 7 quality shots, starting with the serve, and then catch the ball and begin again. It requires control to hit a ball so that it can be returned, yet offers your partner the opportunity to practice as if playing a real point. Be intentional and pick a target each and every time you make contact with the ball. Be conscious of the times you are able to hit a third shot drop, and the times when it makes more sense to drive. As we have discussed before, 20 minutes of mindful, purposeful practice is more beneficial than 120 minutes of simply whacking the ball about.

Be sure to check back for additional information.

No comments:

Post a Comment