Pickleball 101: The Third Shot Drop

Learn the proper form of one of the most important shots of the game with these tips.

Pickleball always starts the same way: one team will serve the ball while the receiving team will attempt to return the ball deep and prepare to take control of the net.

But it’s the shot coming after the return of the serve that can make the biggest impact.

“The most important part of the game comes down to the third shot,” Founder of Level-Up Pickleball Camps Wayne Dollard says. “It’s called the third shot drop.”

After the returning team takes control of the net, the baseline team has two options. The first is to attempt to overpower the opponent with forehands or backhands. But this strategy can allow the opponent to easily volley the ball back, meaning it only works well against opponents with weaker volleys.

The second option is the third shot drop in the kitchen, which can help neutralize your opponent’s advantage. This is more of a dink than a forehand. When performing this shot, remember these tips:

  • Get extra low to the ground
  • While holding the paddle in a continental grip, keep the face open and in front of you
  • Lean forward and stay low through contact
  • Do not pop your body up too early

The third shot drop can allow you to hit the ball upward and effectively into the kitchen. When you’re hitting this shot, the trajectory should be an arching motion with the apex of the shot being on your side of the net.

If done correctly, the third shot drop can allow you to move up to the net while neutralizing your opponent’s advantage.

To help master the third shot drop, add it to your warmup routine with your partner. It could help lead to a victory on the pickleball court.