Third Shot Drop : The Strategy Behind the Shot | National Pickleball

As a beginner to intermediate player, there are many concepts you must master before advancing.  One of the most foundational tools you will utilize often is the “Drop Shot.”

The Drop Shot is simply defined as a ball that is “dropped” or placed in the Non-Volley Zone (or if you prefer slang, “The Kitchen”).  The most common Drop Shot is the Third Shot Drop.  After you have served, the ball is returned, and now you have a decision to make.  It is the third shot of the game and you can either drive or “drop” the ball to the opposing team from your position at the baseline.

So why do we drop the ball?  The simple answer is if we place the ball in the Non-Volley Zone, the other team has to wait for it to bounce which creates something we desperately need….time.  This strategic shot allows you more time to move forward safely.  Realistically, unless you are in the shape of your life, you may need to move halfway, then hit another “drop” shot to get to the net.  The great news is this shot slows the ball down which makes is safer to be on the move.  By creating time, you can keep the ball in front of you and are in more control of the point.

When teaching the proper technique of a drop shot, I have students put their paddles aside and stand in front of each other immolating the distance between the baseline and non-volley zone. Put the ball in the same hand you hold your paddle.  Toss the ball underhanded to your partner.  To bring the ball down, creating a lower throw, you must extend your arm and really reach towards where you are throwing.  With an underhand throw, and to get the ball to its proper destination, you must engage your shoulder and hips. You cannot generate enough power in an underhand throw with your arm alone.   Repeat dozens of throws until you get a routine feel of this motion.  Then, add your paddle back into your hand.  If you continue to picture the motion of throwing the ball underhanded, once your paddle is in your hand, you will lose the tendency to add a lot of backswing (the height your lift your paddle in the air before striking the ball).  If you have a lot of backswing you will find it overpowers this delicate shot.  Once you can hit 20 out of 20 balls successfully into the non-volley zone, you can consider yourself proficient.

Though a drop shot may not be the quickest to master, it will prove to be one of the most effective weapons in your arsenal.

Drill Recommendation:  Put a marker at the baseline and mid-court.  Practice hitting a drop shot from both locations repeatedly.  If you have a drill partner, have your partner feed three balls to you in a row.  The first as the baseline, then midcourt, then at the non-volley line.  This will start to get you used to proper transition tactics that you can use in any play situation.