By: CJ Johnson | October 3, 2020 |

Ultimate Pickleball Drill-The Octopus

What if there was a pickleball drill that could improve your accuracy, boost your fitness, give you better footwork, increase your confidence, and enhance your touch? Would you want to know about it?

Sound too good to be true?

It can also increase your target awareness and help you understand how to control a shot while you’re moving. It’s not too good to be true.

My dear friend Ernie Medina introduced me to this, and he calls it The Octopus. Frankly, I think that name is quite fitting.

You’ll be hitting eight different shots in the ultimate pickleball drill.

#1-Baseline, down the line forehand
#2-Baseline, down the line backhand
#3-Baseline, cross-court forehand
#4-Baseline, cross-court backhand
#5-Transition Zone, cross-court forehand drop shot to the NVZ
#6-Transition Zone, cross-court backhand drop shot to the NVZ
#7-Transition Zone, down the line forehand drop shot to the NVZ
#8-Transition Zone, down the line, backhand drop shot to the NVZ

One partner stands on the centerline at the kitchen line and the other at the baseline centerline. The player at the NVZ feeds the pickleball to the player at the baseline.

The first ball is fed just inside the baseline to the player’s forehand. The player at the baseline moves into position and hits a downline forehand. The baseline player shuffles back to the centerline after hitting the shot.

The next feed is to the player’s backhand, and they should hit a downline backhand. Upon completion, they shuffle back to the centerline.

There are two more baseline to baseline shots in this portion of the drill. The third shot is a baseline cross-court forehand. The person feeding the ball should be prepared to duck since they are positioned in the center of the court.

The last shot from the baseline is a cross-court baseline backhand sent deep to the corner.

There are a couple of goals for each of the baseline shots.

  1. Good footwork.
    It’s easy to transfer your body’s momentum to the shot. Speed changes the trajectory of a pickleball, so it’s imperative to do your best to stop your movement prior to hitting the shot.
  2. Depth
    The most effective baseline groundstrokes land within 3 feet of the baseline. Click these resources, if you want more information on groundstrokes and shot depth.

The next section in this drill is to drop into the kitchen from the transition zone.

Shot 5 is a forehand cross-court drop shot from the transition zone into the non-volley zone. After the shot is completed, the player should move back to the centerline on the baseline.

Shot 6 is a backhand cross-court drop shot from the transition zone into the kitchen. After the shot is completed the player should move back to the centerline on the baseline.

The next shot in the ultimate pickleball drill is a downline forehand drop shot from the transition zone into the kitchen. Upon completion of the shot, the player should move back to the centerline on the baseline.

The 8th and final shot is a downline backhand drop shot from the transition zone into the non-volley zone.

When working in the transition zone, it’s important to try to move back to the baseline. That puts you in a position to simulate the forward momentum you would have during a game.

It’s important to be comfortable hitting both cross-court and downline shots. The height of the pickleball net is 34″ in the center and 36″ at the sideline.

Helpful hints to make this drill effective for your skill and fitness level

If you are having a difficult time moving to each shot in this pickleball drill, have the person feeding the ball use a higher softer feed. For anyone who things this drill is too easy, use a harder feed and shorten the feed time between the shots.

If your fitness is challenging you, consider taking a quick break after the first four shots.

Do your best to keep moving. Make sure that after each shot, you return to the baseline.


Good footwork is key. If you aren’t sure how to move laterally or use the split-step, which is essential for efficient court movement. Check out this playlist.


.Better Pickleball CJ Johnson

CJ Johnson Better Pickleball Age Well with C.J.
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Email: CJ@BetterPickleball.com

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CJ Johnson

Hey there — I’m a professional three-sport athlete and coach who has spent my entire adult life earning a living from playing and coaching sports. Since I started coaching more than three decades ago, one thing has remained the same: My commitment to see students not as they are but as what they can become and to move heaven and earth to help them realize their untapped potential. You should know that when it comes to helping pickleball players over 50 live their best lives on and off the courts, I'm an expert. Good pickleball is not just technique; it's the mind and body working holistically. That's why I'm also a personal trainer and weight management specialist. When I’m chillin', you'll find me watching Star Trek with my husband John and our two fur babies, Shirley and Ralph. (Yes, Happy Days)