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Can You Play Pickleball by Yourself? Against a Wall?

Adult man playing pickleball in court alone.

The Rolling Stones once sang, “You can’t always get what you want.” Those who can’t find a partner with which to practice pickleball or a court on which to practice it might resort to using the garage or basement wall to get what they want. We all need practice at our favorite sport, and pickleball is no exception.

I had a little brother who practiced with me in the field next door to our house. I had no need for basement walls, broken windows, or noisy practice, something with which pickleball players have a lot of trouble. So you want to practice, but need a wall against which to practice.

No problem, we have just the tutorial for you. Grab your ball, paddle, and a few supplies, and we’ll get down to it.

You’ll Need Blue Painter’s Tape, Red Solo Cups, And Your Pickleball Equipment For Practice

Female pickleball player about to hit a sever to start the game.

The first step is to tape off the “net” on the wall. It should be 36 inches at the posts or about six to eight feet wide. The middle of the “net” should be 34 inches.

Beginning with blue painter’s tape at the five-foot and seven-foot lines, start taping off lines at the 12-foot, 17-foot, and 22-foot markers from the wall. You only need an inch or two of tape to mark them. Tape off a line down the middle to split the “left” and “right” sides of the “court.”

Now it’s time for practice.

The First Practice In Any Sport Is Throwing Or Serving A Ball, So Get Ready To Serve Your Pickleball

Pickleball is being played outside.

Serving is about control. Standing at the baseline, practice your pickleball serve. Have a bucket of balls handy, because you don’t want to play with the ball, just serve it. Move around on the baseline on each “side” of the court to give yourself a range of motion.

Your goal is to hit above the net every time. Be aware of your serve, so you can fine-tune your control over your arms and the ball.

Hitting A Target Is The Goal Of Many Sports Using Balls. Here’s How To Practice Hitting Your Target

I’m right-handed, but I can bat left-handed if I see a weakness on that side of the baseball field. It’s the same in pickleball. The idea is to serve your opponent a ball he can’t return, giving you the point.

Pickleball Master Course by Steve Dawson ($199)

So let’s practice hitting that goal every. single. time. When you see the weakness, you’ll have practiced exploiting it. Go to the wall and tape off a medium-sized square just above the “net.”

That’s your first target. Standing on the line, practice hitting that target. When you can do it every single time, go to the “net” and make the square smaller. Practice hitting it every single time.

Now make the square even smaller. Practice hitting it consistently. When there is no more space to tape off a square, practice hitting that spot on the wall every single time.

Now you’re ready to confound your opponents on the court.

Reflexes Play A Bigger Part In Sports Than Even The Arms And Legs. Here’s How To Train Your Reflexes (Yes, You Can!)

Pickleball is being played outside.

This drill only works if you’re practicing with a partner. You’ll be dinking the ball like normal. From completely out of left field, smash a hard drive to your partner.

This will show him or her that it’s necessary to block the shot calmly and not to allow the ball to pop up. If you’re alone, then practice soft shots. Now smash the ball into a hard drive.

Practice holding your paddle softly in the right position. This will help you learn to block the ball properly. Additionally, you might want to hold the paddle with only three fingers in order to block the ball just as softly so the ball won’t pop up.

You might want to wear eye protection in case you get smashed by a hard-driving ball.

Legwork Is Part Of Any Sport, So You’ll Need To Practice Moving

A pickleball dink at the net during a senior tournament.

You can’t play a sport standing still unless you’re bowling. Even then, your legs have to move the right way in order to send the ball in the direction you want it to go. In pickleball, you’ll shuffle left, right, and center to return the ball.

As you’re practicing your dinking, also practice your shuffling movements from one sideline to the other. Remember not to cross your feet in front of the other or you’ll trip up or return the ball badly. If you remember the New York Shuffle (yeah, I’m that old,) practice shuffling from side to side as if you were line dancing.

Got It. What About Practicing Dinking And Volleying The Ball?

An attractive senior, playing pickleball, hits a two-handed backhand.

To practice volleying, serve the ball. Practice keeping it in the air and not letting it hit the floor. Keep the ball in the air for as long as you can.

Use a stopwatch to see how long you can keep the ball in the air. Practice hitting the ball using a forehand as well as a backhand. Dinking is a little different.

Standing on the kitchen line or seven feet from the “net,” practice dinking the ball just above the “net.” Using a forehand or, in some instances, a backhand, practice returning the dink as many times as it takes. Remember to keep your knees bent, or you’ll have a sore back.

What Is This Serve, Drive, And Drop In Pickleball I’ve Heard About?

A pickleball serve concentration.

The serve, drive, and drop is when you put together all the practice maneuvers you’ve been doing in the garage. You’ll begin by serving the ball to the wall. When the ball comes back to you, smash the ball into a line drive across the “net.”

Your third shot will be a drop shot. Rinse and repeat. The goal here is to train the muscles to react properly to different shots in rapid-fire succession.

Is There Anything Else I Can Practice In My Pickleball Garage Session?

Yes. Now you’re going to practice your diagonal kitchen volleys and cross-court dinks. You’ll stand diagonally from the “net.” Practice volleying diagonally with the forehand as well as with the backhand.

Then move to the left side of the kitchen line. Practice volleying the ball diagonally to the right side of the “net.” The next thing you’ll practice is dinking.

Move back and forth along the kitchen line as you would in a regular game. The goal here is to practice dinking the ball over the “net.”

Can You Play Pickleball By Yourself Against A Wall FAQs

Can You Play Pickleball Alone?

Absolutely. If there’s a pickleball court available, there are several drills you can practice. They can be practiced on a tennis court as well. If neither is available, then tape off the regulation space in a basement or garage and have at it.

How Do You Practice Pickleball On A Backboard?

Many tennis courts have backboards against which players can practice their serves and returns. If you can find one, then tape off the regulation space for pickleball. You can practice it all: backhand, forehand, shuffling from side to side, soft returns, hard returns, as well as diagonal play.

What’s The Hardest Thing To Do While Playing Pickleball?

The hardest thing to do in pickleball is to hit the ball low and still get it over the net. This keeps your opponent from returning the ball in a hard line drive.

Does Practicing Pickleball Against A Wall Improve Accuracy?

Absolutely. While you’re practicing your shots, the muscles in your body are learning when to perform when a shot comes your way. Your arms will learn how to relax between shots or tense up to give your serve more power. All this gives your game the utmost accuracy.

How Can I Stop Pop-Ups?

One of the most important things about pop-ups is moving while you’re hitting the ball. Try to be as still as possible while you’re returning the ball. The second thing to remember is to hold the paddle as loosely as you can without dropping it.

A soft hold on the paddle gets the ball in front of you instead of popping it backward or sending it somewhere you’re not aiming.

Can Skinny Pickleball Help Me Practice My Game?

That’s what skinny pickleball is meant to do. You “play” on the half-court. That gives you room to do your practice drills, anticipating the shots that will come your way.

Playing skinny pickleball closely mirrors the game you’d be playing with doubles instead of singles.

What Is The Most Important Shot I Should Practice In Pickleball?

The third shot drop is the most important shot you’ll make. It takes a lot of practice to get it right because this shot is where the majority of points are lost. This shot comes after the serve and the return.

It’s meant to drop into the opposite kitchen where your opponent might fumble the ball, so to speak. When that happens, you’ll get the point.