I’ve found that gamification is the best way to keep drills from feeling mundane and monotonous. In this video, Tyson McGuffin and Kyle McKenzie share a game that will help you work on your dink volley and recognize which dinks you should be taking out of the air versus when to step back.
Being comfortable with the dink volley is key to standing your ground at the non-volley zone (NVZ). If you find yourself constantly taking a step back and giving your opponents more space to attack and move you around, then you must watch this video and learn this drill.
Additional equipment needed / set up:
- Six (6) training cones (these ones from Amazon work great)
- Six (6) pickleballs (brand doesn’t matter because you’re not playing with them)
Set up the three (3) cones each topped with a pickleball about 8 inches to a foot inside the NVZ on both sides, spread evenly across one side of the pickleball court. Then you play a dinking game where all dinks must land in the kitchen. Your goal during each rally is (a) aim for your opponent’s pyramid and “explode” it, and (b) guard your pyramid from your opponent’s attacks, while putting pressure on your opponent to miss their shots.
Kyle and Tyson play this game to 10 points with bonus points awarded for “exploding” pyramids. If you miss a dink it’s worth one (1) point but hitting a cone and “exploding” a pyramid is worth three (3) points, which puts pressure on each player to defend their cones and take shots out of the air as much as possible so as not allow their pyramids to be toppled.
This drill helps you work on several things:
- Not dinking outside the NVZ forces you find the right balance between the height and distance of your dinks and will help you dink more consistently when you get into dinking battles.
- Trying to “explode” your opponent’s pyramids, forces you to practice dinking more purposefully, aggressively, and precisely by targeting your opponent’s cones or feet so you can exert more pressure on during dinking battles.
- Defending your pyramids forces you take shots out of the air as dink volleys (rather than backing up) which helps you become more comfortable hitting dink volleys and understand which balls you can take out of the air and when it’s appropriate to back off the NVZ line.
The pyramids are set up at the beginning of what Tyson likes to call the “pressurized” area. Dinks that fall in this zone are challenging because, unlike dinks that fall in the “shallow” or “neutral” zones where you’re more than likely going to hit them after they bounce, you may or may not be able to take this dinks out of the air and that split second of indecision can cause errors.
It’s helpful to have pyramids as targets because you don’t necessarily want to aim for the NVZ line or your opponents’ feet when dinking and risk making it easier for your opponents’ to attack. By aiming for this “pressurized” zone, there’s less risk of giving the other team an attackable ball and more chance for them to make a mistake in your favor.
Anyway, I would love to do this drill sometime so leave a comment below and let me know if you ever want to give it a try.
Who is Tyson McGuffin? Tyson McGuffin is a professional pickleball player with 5 grand slams and 4 national titles sponsored by Selkirk. He is also an IPTPA and PPR certified teaching professional who conducts pickleball training camps and clinics throughout the nation.
Who is Kyle McKenzie? Kyle McKenzie is a professional pickleball player and instructor. He has competed against the best pickleball players in the world and is passionate about helping others improve their skills and knowledge of the game. He is a lead instructor for the Tyson McGuffin Pickleball Camps.