Complete Guide to Skinny Singles Pickleball Drill

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Skinny singles is a great way to add some fun to drilling or if you find that your normal doubles crew is a bit thin on the pickleball courts. 

Also Check Out: Best Pickleball Drills to Improve Your Game Fast

single pickleball paddle in a fence post.

If you enjoy playing either doubles or singles, it can add some basic guard rails around play and help you work on specific parts of your game. Plus, it’s a fun way to challenge and force yourself to make your dinks and move your opponent around, looking for an offensive opening.

Also Check Out: 4 Dinking Drills to Dial in Your Dinks

First, let me get this out of the way, this is not your skinny margarita, skinny cow ice cream, or skinny latte.

The global marketing teams have really cast some shade on the word skinny lately, but I am here to tell you that Skinny Singles, has all the great calories of pickleball, along with the same great taste and none of those fake additives or coloring.

Introduction To Playing Skinny Singles

Playing skinny singles is fun and easy. All you need are 2 players and the regular Pickleball accouterments: ball, net, and determined attitude. With Skinny Singles, you cut the court in half, and play is accomplished by hitting the ball into the other player’s “half” of the court.

This means you are forced to hit back at your opponent, directly or cross-court. You don’t have the luxury of the full-court shots, so you have to strategically place your shots, move your opponent around and keep the ball in play.

Sounds easy? Not so much, as your opponent only has to cover half the court and has a general idea of where you will hit the ball, so players must be very calculated and precise with their shots.

In Skinny Singles, the width of the Pickleball court is cut in half, so each player only covers about 10 feet of court, so the shots and strategies utilized in skinny singles are very similar to doubles.

Skinny Singles also removes the hard drive/passing shots. Instead, you have to rely on your drops and dinks. When you play Skinny Singles, you will find it plays very similar to regular doubles, and it allows you to have fun and practice more efficiently.

How To Play Skinny Singles

As mentioned earlier, Skinny Singles forces you into a smaller court, adding guard rails to the game. Services, returns, and all subsequent shots must land on the same side of the court for each point.

So, the court is broken down into 2 configurations – half court or cross court – which we will discuss further in the next section.

Scoring

There are many variations of Skinny Singles, but I recommend moving on the court, just like a normal game. So, for a typical game, follow these steps:

  • Start the game (at 0-0), serving diagonally to your opponent
  • Points are scored only when a service point is won by the server
  • Whenever the server’s score is even (0,2,4, 6,) they will be serving from the right side of the court, and play will occur cross-court
pickleball court showing skinny singles layout during even numbers
  • The server changes sides when they win a service point, but the receiver does not move
  • This means that at 0-0 the service and play occur cross court
  • At 1-0, the server serves straight across and the receiver has to hit it straight back
pickleball court showing skinny singles layout for even numbers
  • Any ball landing in the diagonal part of the court is considered an out ball
  • The game is played to 11, just like a regular Pickleball game
  • There are no number 1 or 2 servers, each player keeps their own Score and helps to track what side each should be playing on for the point

Why Skinny Singles Again?

Playing Skinny Singles will make you work on very specific aspects of your game and help you improve your overall game strategy and shot placement. Here are some of the benefits of playing Skinny Singles:

  • Helps you make more consistent, purposeful shots:

Working with only half the court means you have less of a margin for error. Your opponent will be up at the kitchen line very quickly and so you must work on keeping them off guard with your shots

  • Forces players to hit deep shots, specifically on the service and service returns

It’s a race to the kitchen line with Skinny Singles, and the longer you can keep your opponent back the more likely you are to win the point

  • Makes you hit crisp 3rd shot drops

As a server, your opponent will be racing to the kitchen line right off their service return With the limited space restriction of Skinny Singles, your drop will be the key to whether you get the 5th shot or not.

  • Makes you Attack the net, as quickly as possible

In Skinny Singles, the first person to the net has a big advantage. A quick volley can lead to the end of a point, so players get in the habit of making shots that allow them to get to the net as quickly as possible

  • Forces you to get into the dink game

The best points in Skinny Singles are in the face-off at the kitchen – both players at the net trying to find the weakness or an error from their opponent. Moving your opponent around and creating openings is a big part of the game, so be prepared for some dinking and also some great firefights

  • Lastly, it reminds you that balls hit on the other side of the court are not your balls

Playing Skinny Singles will help you get into the routine of letting balls go and letting your partner play.

So, there are a lot of great benefits for you playing Skinny Singles, and this is in addition to the normal Pickleball benefits, like getting your heart rate up, staying focused on the ball, and moving your feet.

And, because Skinny Singles is only played on half the Pickleball court, it closely mimics the shot selections and strategies you use when playing doubles.

What’s not to Love!

Skinny Singles is a great way to drill, without some of the more mundane parts of drilling. It also provides an easy way for two people to have a good time, get a great workout and really practice the tough parts of the game – dinks and drops.

Want to improve your strategy and force errors from your opponent? Give Skinny Singles a chance. Serve, get to the net and work on moving your opponent. All things that will help improve your Pickleball game.

So, who’s in? Let me know in the comments!

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