2 Key Takeaways: Prepping a Beginner for Drop In

Prepping a Beginner for Drop-In

With pickleball continuing to pick up steam and warmer weather in the north it is a good bet your friends are starting to get the bug. How do you prepare them to be ready for your weekly drop in? Do you just have them show up and pick up the game as you go? 

I have decided to take a different approach. How do we get the most repetitions in a short amount of time? So we did just that – we set up a 45 minute session with a beginner. 

What did we focus on? 

  • Cross court forehand dinks
  • Cross court backhand dinks
  • Baseline shots
  • Serving
  • Return of serve
  • Skinny singles
  • Full singles

Why did we structure it this way?

  • Touch – Even though we weren’t going to dink much playing singles, I wanted him to get a feeling of going cross court and the relative ease that you can hit shots that won’t hurt you.
  • Full shots – This turned out to be more critical than I thought it was going to be, surely we want everyone to perfect the net game but every point starts with full shots from the baseline. We have to get a beginner comfortable starting a point and hitting deep shots to the other side.
  • Serving – In 8 minutes of serving, he hit more serves than he would in a 2 hour drop in. 
  • Return of serve – Providing the ability to make some errors when they dont matter and showing the impact of a deep return vs. short

Then we played. 

I find it easier to learn if there is some sort of consequence to your actions. We started with skinny singles but didn’t last long given it turned into a dink and smash game that wasn’t helping his development. 


While the games were lopsided – it was great to get him moving around and we found a couple of key takeaways that he can bring right to his first time playing doubles. 

Return of Serve

Far too often he stood right on the baseline. For a beginner and even an advanced player standing on this line will lead to you getting eaten up, even if it is a soft and deep serve. Taking a few steps back is a critical adjustment that will make the game easier for them.

No Man’s Land

It is very easy for a beginner to drift in and out and get caught between the kitchen and the baseline. A few video clips really helped highlight where he was standing and how much harder it made his shots to complete. Even the best players have trouble with the ball at their feet. This is a great lesson in getting a player adjusted to doubles.

While we are going to work in a couple more sessions of drill work and playing some singles, I think he is closer to start dropping in some games and having some fun. You can also use it to work on some of your skills as well. This session I worked on serve depth and hitting baseline shots with more topspin.

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