How Do You Practice Pickleball Alone?

Although the pickleball community is growing, there are times when you don’t have a partner or opponent to hit the ball with. Whether your crew is out of town or you're an early adopter of the sport in your area, neither should slow you down on practicing the most addictive sport. Like any other paddle or racquet sport, consistent practice is the key to improving – that means even if you're the only person on the court.

Players can practice pickleball alone through solo drills. Solo drills are the technical and repeated exercises that give a player confidence and a deeper knowledge of their equipment. Consistently practicing alone translates to improved skills when playing pickleball in a group.

So the next time you want to play the most popular sport in the US but can't find anyone to play with, take comfort in the thought that going it alone will fill your urge to play and also make you better for your next match with others. In this quick guide, we’ll walk you through the best ways to practice pickleball alone.

But first, if you're on the net line as to whether it truly benefits your play in a real game, we'll start by covering why you should practice alone and what makes solo drills work so well.

Why Practice Pickleball Alone?

Pickleball solo drills are basic routines where players can practice proper form with their equipment. Practicing alone may seem redundant at first because pickleball is a social game - arguably the most social sport around and one of the components that make it so addictive. However, solo drills are what set professional pickleball players apart from beginners.

The passion of practice when no one else is looking is how you become an advanced player. This is what solo drills are all about - and they're driven by your physiology.

The Impact of Neurons

Practicing solo drills greatly affects your brain. Neurons, the nerve cells that send info all over our body, come into play here. When you practice a specific drill over and over, those neurons linked to the movement start firing faster, helping you get better at it. This is where the real skill is built and mastered.

But solo drills are more than just physical practice. They also help build mental discipline and focus. When you practice alone, you're driven by your desire to improve, instead of looking for praise from others.

By sticking to those solo drills, you'll strengthen the neural connections for pickleball-specific skills. That means you'll see better performance and faster reflexes when you play with a partner or in competitions. Now keep in mind that pickleball can't be played on your own. You'll at least need one other person to play singles pickleball, but the most common way to play pickleball is doubles.

The bottom line is this: practicing alone helps you become a better pickleball player. To see firsthand how drills can help your neurons fire quicker and make you better at pickleball, check out our 18 pickleball drills.

What Equipment Do I Need to Do Solo Drills in Pickleball?

Solo drills may require different kinds of equipment. For example, when improving a serve, a pickleball net may be required. Other drills require a pickleball machine. Most solo pickleball drills can be completed with a paddle, pickleball, and a wall. Not all drills require a pickleball court.

The ways you can practice pickleball alone vary, which is why we provided modifications with each solo drill below. We'll explain other ways to practice a certain area of the game if you don’t have access to a court, be it a driveway, cul-de-sac, or just a flat concrete surface.

How to Practice Pickleball Alone: 5 Solo Drills for Beginners

If we've successfully convinced you to practice pickleball by yourself or you have no other choice, you’re in luck! Here at Paddletek, we put together five of the best solo drills to improve different techniques. These drills are built for novice pickleball players or ones who've been playing a while but looking to step their game up.

The first solo drill we chose to focus on is great for overall technique. It helps you improve confidence with your paddle, hand-eye coordination, and the overall feeling of being on the court.

Solo Drill 1: Static Drop Feed

A static drop feed is dropping the ball in front of your feet, letting it bounce once, and hitting the ball in the center of your paddle. Simple, right? Well, it is once you get the hang of it at least! A Static Drop Feed is best for improving serves, rallies, and groundstrokes because it helps the player gain confidence that they can clear the net and continue a rally.

A rally is a continuous play that occurs when the ball is served until a play ends. A groundstroke is when the player hits the ball after one bounce. The Static Drop Feed improves hand strength and helps the player learn proper form. This solo drill gives the platform for players to practice different kinds of underhand serves.

In the end, a Static Drop Feed is a foolproof solo drill because it builds the basics for pickleball technique. This can be done anywhere, but this drill, like most of our solo drills, is best used on the court.

How to Perform Static Drop Feed

  • Step 1: Drop the ball in front of your feet
  • Step 2: Let the ball bounce once
  • Step 3: As it bounces upward, hit the ball in the center of your paddle
  • Step 4: Focus on technique and form, not passing the net
  • Step 5: Pick up another ball, or walk to the opposite side of the court where your ball is and repeat


If you have multiple pickleball at your disposal you can place them on the ground next to you before you begin the drill. Better yet, if you have a pickleball machine, this is the perfect drill to wheel it out. If you don’t have a pickleball machine and you don’t want to lay the balls at your feet, just grab a box or container and set them next to you. The key is to have them close so you don't waste time and get out of a rhythm.

If you have just one ball, players can complete a static drop feed and walk to the other side of the court to repeat the drill. If you don’t have a court, you can bounce the pickleball off a wall and try to complete a rally. If you don’t have a wall nearby, use the garage or side of a house.

We wouldn't recommend taking your static drop to the driveway or near the road because the pickleball can easily roll away. Always have a wall or fence of some kind when doing this solo drill.

Pro Tips

  • Swing low to high: After dropping the ball, swing your paddle low to the ground but without touching it. As the ball travels upward, the paddle needs to hit the ball mid-air. After making contact, let the paddle “follow through” and swing it high. This gives you a strong groundstroke - something that will help you in nearly any shot.
  • Keep strokes light and relaxed: Pickleball at its best is a lighthearted and sociable game. It’s best to play the game in the same manner. Keep your groundstrokes relaxed but intentional. Doing so will give you the correct power behind your groundstroke – not too weak, but not too aggressive.
  • Hit across the court: Doing Static Drop Feed drills at a pickleball court is preferred. This is because players can practice hitting the ball diagonally, in the center, or directly across the court. As mentioned before, this also gives players confidence that they can cross the net and aim the ball where they want it to go.

Solo Drill 2: Topspin Drive

The next solo drill we chose focuses on improving the strength of your serves. In other words, practicing a Topspin Drive will properly build your best aggressive shot in pickleball.

A Topspin Drive is getting the pickleball to dip low quickly after clearing the net. This forces the opponent to hit the ball lower, making it hard to continue the rally. Doing a topspin also helps a player serve deep. Serving deep means pushing the opponent behind the baseline.

It should be noted that this drill doesn't mean it's going to arc just over the net and land in the kitchen, which wouldn't be a legal serve. It simply means that it helps you practice getting a nice dip on the ball so that it stays low to the net while still landing in the correct service area.

To do a Topspin Drive, begin with a Static Drop Feed. However, keep the serve low to the ground but high enough to clear the net. You can do this by having a loose wrist and following through with your serve. Having a loose wrist, or not gripping the paddle so tightly, allows the ball to stay low. This gives you a stronger momentum than the arm and elbow as you hit the ball. Following through with your serve means swinging low to high as mentioned earlier.

How to Perform Topspin Drive

  • Step 1: Drop the ball in front of your feet
  • Step 2: Let the ball bounce once
  • Step 3: As it bounces upward, hit the ball in the center of your paddle with a loose wrist
  • Step 4: Use just enough technique to let the ball pass over the net, but that it stays low to the ground after
  • Step 5: Pick up another ball, or walk to the opposite side of the court where your ball is and repeat


Unfortunately, this solo drill does require a pickleball net and cannot be practiced on a wall. If you don't have access to a court, consider using a portable net. You can also practice Topspin Drives over a barrier of some kind, like a low couch or chair. Remember, it's best to practice pickleball drills in an enclosed space to avoid hazards. Do not practice this in the driveway.

Pro Tips

  • Keep the paddle at 90 degrees: When you hit the ball after it bounces once on the ground, hit it at a 90-degree angle. This allows your groundstroke to be stronger, and therefore more aggressive. A topspin can be completed with a simple underhand serve but using the western grip to help you angle it more appropriately at the point of contact.
  • Step into the serve: As you drop the ball and it contacts the ground, step into the serve. This gives the point of contact more momentum and gives you a stronger groundstroke. Begin the serve further behind the baseline to do this so you don't cross it - doing so would be a fault in a real game.
  • Find your footing: Some players choose not to move their feet, but simply shift their weight as they do a Topspin Drive. This allows a player greater momentum and a feeling of control. Others prefer to step further behind the baseline and do a simple two-step to give the Topspin Drive power.

Solo Drill 3: Rolling Shot

For a less technical solo drill, try the Rolling Shot. A Rolling Shot in pickleball is performing a ground stroke just before the non-volley zone. The non-volley zone is the box before the net - and you probably know it by its more colloquial name - "the kitchen".

This solo drill is great practice for rallies. In pickleball, once you get into the motion of consistently passing the ball back and forth, there may be times when you and your opponent are close to the kitchen line and dancing in a way to prevent breaking the non-volley rules. Practicing the Rolling Shot teaches a player to have control when that close to the net and kitchen line.

Players can also practice their drives with the Rolling Shot. A drive is a shot that is straight ahead and low. It goes deep into the opposing backcourt. The goal is to push the opponent off the court - the most famous example of this is the third shot drive (not to be confused with the third shot drop).

How to Perform Rolling Shot

  • Step 1: Drop the ball in front of your feet and before the non-volley zone
  • Step 2: Let the ball bounce once
  • Step 3: As it bounces upward, hit the ball in the center of your paddle with a loose wrist. Focus on performing a drive.


This solo drill generally requires a pickleball court as it relies on the non-volley zone and NVZ line - but you could recreate this with some tape and a portable net. Just make sure you mark the dimensions correctly - check out our pickleball court 101 article which has all the dimensions and how to mark the space on your own.

Pro Tips

  • Practice on opposite court sides: After completing a Rolling Shot, it’s encouraged to repeat the stroke on the opposite side of the court - meaning if you're serving on the right side, your next serve would be from the left. This helps beginners become confident in serving on both sides of the court.
  • Serve aggressively: A Rolling Shot is your time to shine! At this point in the rally, the game is getting intense. Your practice with drives will help your serves get sharper and push back further.
  • Reduce steps: Many players find it easier to shift their weight between their feet rather than take a step. Try both ways when practicing this solo drill.

Solo Drill 4: Serve and Split Step

The arguably most important solo drill is the Serve and it's how every pickleball game starts. It is a vital part of the game, and the better your serve, the more likely the better your game will be. Now, we realize there are two ways to serve - call us traditionalists, but this drill is focused on getting better at your volley serves. If you're into drop serving, this won't be the drill for you.

This specific drill incorporates serving and then where your body goes after the serve. Where most beginners mess up is they serve and B-line it to the kitchen line. Don't do that. Instead, learn how to split-step - this will improve your reaction time and help you pace properly to the kitchen line.

How to Perform Serve and Split Step

  • Step 1: Stand behind the baseline at your service area or your simulated baseline and court
  • Step 2: Holding the ball in your non-dominant hand, make the swing of an underhand serve and create contact at the center of your paddle
  • Step 3: After you make contact, immediately hop into a split step where you land on the balls of your feet
  • Step 4: Make a fake "shadow swing" like you're hitting the ball back
  • Step 5: Do another split step as you advance a few feet toward the kitchen line
  • Step 6: Repeat until you move to the kitchen line, then start the drill over


If you cannot be at a pickleball court, use a portable net for this. You can practice serving outdoors in a grassy area. Because a serve is the longest shot you'll make on a court, your family might not appreciate you practicing this indoors. Truthfully, the most important part of this drill isn't so much the motion of serving, but what you do after to approach the net. If you cannot be outside and do not have a net, practice Static Drop Feed instead.

Pro Tips.

  • Serve to the corners: Although there is no official game going, it is best to do solo drills like it’s the real deal! Serve to the corners of the court as if your opponent was physically here. You could always try the drill serve to target which simulates picking a spot to serve to and practicing that.
  • Switch hand placement: As you Serve, try switching hands between right and left. Try Serving with one or two hands. Seeing what works for the player can help beginners Serve deeply.

Solo Drill 5: Shadow Swing

A Shadow Swing is not as mysterious to do as it sounds. Simply, a shadow swing is swinging a pickleball paddle without hitting anything. What’s the purpose of swinging a paddle if you have nothing to hit? It may seem silly, but it’s all for practice and comfort. The purpose of a shadow swing is to get confident with swinging a pickleball paddle and using proper form.

How to Perform Shadow Swing

  • Step 1: Firmly grip the paddle with a loose wrist
  • Step 2: Swing the paddle low to high
  • Step 3: Repeat as needed


This drill doesn't need to be done at a pickleball court. It may be helpful to do so to keep you familiar with the pickleball environment, but this solo drill can be done at any time. You might get some funny stares, but who cares? You'll get your revenge on the court!

Pro Tips

  • Try different paddles: Sometimes, we don’t have our go-to paddle when playing a game. Doing a Shadow Swing with different makes of paddles can help you be confident in any situation. From cheap paddles to professional equipment like Paddletek, it’s good to be prepared.
  • Use imagery: Some players find it helpful to practice the motion without any equipment at all! Imagining a successful serve while completing the proper motion is helpful for beginner picklers.
  • Do this at home: Don’t wait to do this at the court! Shadow Swinging is a great way to practice proper technique away from other pickleball players. Best of all, this can be done in the driveway, unlike other solo drills.

Practicing Alone Isn't So Lonely After All

Pickleball is popular for a reason. It’s easy to learn and can be practiced with others or completely alone. Whether it’s the convenient Shadow Swings or technical Topspin Drives, there is plenty of benefit to practicing alone.

But when practicing alone, you don’t have a partner to rely on ­– it’s just you and your equipment. That’s why you need the right paddle that can get the job done - and that's where we can help you in every way possible. Be sure to peruse our top-tier paddle inventory. We have the right fit for any type of player.