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Mastering the NVZ Line: A Guide to the 'Green Light - Red Light' Drill

As an avid pickleball enthusiast and professional instructor, continuous improvement is at the core of my game. Elevating your skills requires purposeful drills, and one of my favorites is the "Green Light - Red Light" drill. In this blog, I'll walk you through the nuances of this game-changing practice that can enhance your pickleball proficiency, regardless of your skill level.

Understanding the 'Green Light - Red Light' Drill

Moving up to the non-volley zone (NVZ) line is crucial in pickleball, and the conventional advice of "get up to the kitchen" can be confusing. I've named this drill "Green Light - Red Light" to simplify the process. Instead of complex phrases, focus on the cues of "go" (green light) and "stop" (red light) as you approach the NVZ line. This strategy is especially effective after executing the third-shot drop or when recovering from a deep lob.

A man playing pickleball

Executing the Drill

Two players participate in this drill, emphasizing the transition to the NVZ line. Player 1 initiates the drill by hitting a deep ball to Player 2, simulating a return of serve. Player 2, with the "Green Light," executes a drop shot and advances towards the NVZ line. The "Red Light" activates when Player 2 anticipates Player 1's shot before reaching the NVZ line, prompting a quick stop and readiness for the next exchange.

Key Points for Success

  • Maintain control during the approach to the NVZ line.
  • Utilize a split step when stopping (Red Light) for better balance.
  • Repeat the drill until Player 2 successfully reaches the NVZ line 20 times.
  • Switch roles and continue practicing to develop both players' skills.

Advanced Strategies

As players progress, introduce variations in the shots played by Player 1 during the drill. Start with cooperative shots and gradually increase the pressure, fostering continuous improvement in both players' skills. This strategic evolution directly translates into competitive and non-competitive play, elevating your overall pickleball performance.


The "Green Light - Red Light" drill offers a structured approach to improving your pickleball skills. By focusing on efficient movement to the NVZ line, players can elevate their game, contributing to rapid skill development. Incorporate this drill into your practice routine, and witness the positive impact on your overall level of play.

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