A wide variety of techniques go into pickleball skill development, but as much as areas like footwork and ball placement matter, at its core pickleball is still a sport centered around hand-eye coordination. No matter how ingenious a play is in your mind, if you can't get your paddle to connect then you're out of luck!
On the Edge
To develop your coordination there's a simple technique you can use that you may have already done unconsciously while waiting to play a game. Here Coach Claudia Fontana introduces the drill as 'On the Edge.' The goal is to practice bouncing a pickleball up and down on your paddle. You want your wrist to remain firm while controlling where the ball makes contact.
Once this feels comfortable, you can turn your paddle so that the ball is bouncing on the side/edge guard. This obviously narrows your target area and makes the movement a bit trickier to position. If that gets easy too, you can switch between the front, side and back of the paddle while moving to see how well you can keep the ball in motion.
If it helps you to get a clearer image of the action, here is another video of Coach Lavery performing the drill in real time. He makes it look simple!
Wall and Ball
You can also do a series of exercises simply using a pickleball and a wall. It's an ideal exercise when you don't have a lot of time or space to practice but want to get in some training.
Here Jack Cascio is using a tennis ball, but you can do the same with a pickleball. Simply by changing the position of your hand, type of throw and amount of vision available, you can train yourself to more quickly respond to incoming shots.
Lastly, to test your current hand-eye coordination and give yourself a challenge, try this array of exercises from Third Shot Sports. You'll be using a wall again, but this time more than one pickleball will be involved in the rotation. It's a bit like juggling, but using a paddle instead of your hands!
How controlled can you keep the speed and direction of your hits?
Playing actual games is, of course, a great way to improve your abilities too. But by honing in on more precise exercises like this, you'll often find that your movements gain more precision, more quickly.
If you have any favorite drills or exercises for developing hand-eye coordination, let us know in the comments.