Alshon and the Wall: A ‘duo’ made for pickleball success

Alshon and the Wall: A ‘duo’ made for pickleball success

DALLAS, TX - ‘Alshon and the Wall’ sounds like the name of a band, like Mike and the Moonpies or Hootie & the Blowfish.

But this story isn’t about music.

The title actually refers to Christian Alshon and the wall drills that helped kickstart his pro pickleball career and quickly become one of the sport's brightest young stars.

The 23-year-old discovered pickleball during the summer of 2022, just a few weeks after leading the University of Chicago men’s tennis team to an NCAA Division III title.

After playing virtually nonstop that summer, he returned to the Windy City for his final year of undergrad with the goal of going pro in pickleball.

Given that indoor courts in the area were scarce and training partners weren't readily available either, Alshon needed to find a readily accessible way to drill while also balancing a full academic workload.

He discovered a squash court in the on-campus gym and decided to use that—more specifically, its wall—to hit on. After marking a line to represent the net, his pickleball training sanctuary was officially open for business.


“I would play on the wall every single day, except for days when I could find the time or people to play pickleball with,” he recalled.

For Alshon, one of the biggest benefits of hitting on the wall was the opportunity to intentionally reflect on and develop insights into his game, a luxury that isn’t always available in drilling sessions with partners or rec play.

“It’s just you and the wall,” he shared. “Every second of that was very helpful for my pickleball game because I had time to really think, ‘What are my weaknesses, what are my strengths, what do I need to work on?’”

That awareness allowed Alshon to construct drills specifically tailored to areas of his game that he felt needed improvement.

“Once you get in that ‘drilling mode’ where you create one drill, it’s so easy to alter it and come up with new ones,” he explained.

Unsurprisingly, one of the shots he drilled the most was the dink, which he considers to be the most difficult shot to master coming to pickleball from tennis (take note, Genie Bouchard and Donald Young).

One drill, in particular, helped him nail down the art of dinking while moving and changing direction. He would begin the drill with a dink down the line and then hit a dink crosscourt. Next, he would side shuffle run, following the ball, to hit another dink back crosscourt, and then shuffle back to start the cycle over with a dink down the line.


As much as working on the wall helped Alshon hone his skills while completing his degree, he has seen his game’s relationship with the wall change since he began working with his coach Leigh Waters.

“Before, I was still going to the wall consistently to get those personalized, ‘only about me’ drilling sessions,” he revealed. “Since I’ve been working with Leigh, I get that with her. I get that with a coach.”

But the ‘Tweener King’ still hits on the wall once a week, not necessarily for what it does for his pickleball game, but for what it does for his mind.

“Being on the wall is just therapy now,” he said.

It’s safe to say that Alshon’s training—no matter the method—has paid huge dividends. In his first calendar year competing in pro pickleball, he amassed seven medals and was named MVP of the MLP Dallas competition for helping lead D.C. Pickleball Team to a title.

The future is bright for Alshon heading into 2024.

Visit Christian's Instagram account and YouTube page for more wall drill videos and other educational content.