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4 Tips To Master the Third Shot Drop in Pickleball

Published: 2022-12-20
4 Tips To Master the Third Shot Drop in Pickleball
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SportsEdTV has partnered with the Pickleball Clinic to offer instructional messaging. 

How to hit a pickleball third shot drop is the topic of this video and follow-along text.  Presenting is Matt Slowinski Co-Founder of Pickleball Clinic.


What is the third shot drop in pickleball?

The third shot drop in pickleball is a type of shot that is used in the third shot scenario. This shot involves hitting a soft, low shot that lands just over the non-volley zone (NVZ) and drops quickly, making it difficult for the opponent to reach and return. The aim of the third shot drop is to place the ball in a position that forces the opponent to hit a weak or awkward shot, giving the player an advantage in the rally. This shot is typically used when the opponent is positioned near the NVZ and is vulnerable to an accurate drop shot. The third shot drop is a highly effective shot for advanced players and requires precise control, good placement, and the ability to read the opponent's position and movement.




“Today I'm going to give you my top four tips for hitting a pro-level third-shot-drop.

The third-shot-drop is arguably the most fundamental shot in the game, especially when playing at a high level.  But it's also one of the hardest shots to master.

As a coach, I can confidently say that the third-shot-drop is the number one most asked-about shot by my students. I have players coming to us all the time for lessons and clinics, saying I want to work on my third one. We're going to break this shot down and show you how to simplify it and work your way up to hitting a consistent and effective third-shot drop.


First Tip of the Third Shot Drop

We want to eliminate the backswing, when we're preparing our paddle for the drop it needs to be out in front. So if I'm getting ready to hit my drop, I'm going to start with my paddle out in front and I'm only going to pull it back down to right in front of my feet.  It's about six inches in front of my toes. No further back. A lot of players tend to take the paddle far back behind their legs on their drops, and this causes them to take too big of a backswing, which in turn causes the ball to pop up and get slammed. So that's the first tip. Paddle out in front at all times.


Second Tip of the Third Shot Drop

We want to bend our knees. I probably sound like a broken record at this point because I'm always talking about the knee bend, but this is super, super important on the drop because, a lot of times, the drop is coming down low.

So we want to get down low with our knees and keep our backs relatively upright.  I'm going to come down and as I hit, I lift. But, it's very important that I get down with my paddle under the ball using my knees. If I use my back, I'm going to be flicking the ball with my wrist of my shoulder and that's going to create a really inconsistent shot. So I have to get down with my knees.



Third Tip of the Third Shot Drop

You want to try to eliminate spin. If you watch the pros play, their drops have almost no spin on them, at least 90% or more of the time. We almost never see the pros hit with slice or topspin on their drops, except for very limited occasions. So if they don't do it, there's no reason for amateurs to do it as well. We want to make sure that we're hitting these drops flat. Our priority is that we get them in the kitchen so that they're not attackable. If we try to put a spin on it, we're going to end up swinging too hard and causing the ball to pop up or go in the net. So we want to eliminate that spin.


Pickleball no spin


Fourth and Final Tip

Don't be afraid to hit the drop too high. If you miss the drop in the net, the point is over and you can't recover, but if the drop is too high, you still have a chance to get yourself back in the point.”


Pickleball player