Relishing In Pickleball

The Third Shot Drop. Why Is It So Important?

David Zapatka

The third shot drop is a shot performed near the baseline that lands softly in the opponents’ kitchen. The shot is designed with one thing in mind—get your team to the net.

The mechanics of the third shot drop are simple. The ball sails up into the air and drops into the kitchen with the intended goal of slowing down the game so your side can get to the net. Remember, whoever controls the net, controls the pace of the game.

The receiving team has the advantage because they are at the net while the serving team is near the baseline. Lobbing is risky because they can smash it back at you. Driving it at the opponents is risky because they can block angle or drop it into the kitchen. The third shot drop is the best option.

The third shot drop is a slow, soft shot into the opponent’s kitchen and accomplishes two things:

1. It allows you and your partner to quickly get to the kitchen before your opponent can hit their shot.

2. It forces your opponent to dink the ball instead of driving or smashing it.

This evens out the odds of winning the rally since you’re at the net just like the receiving team.

To hit a third shot drop, swing just like any other swing. Aim the third shot drop about five to six feet above your kitchen line so the ball lands softly in the opponents’ kitchen. The apex of the third shot drop will typically be between the landing spot in the kitchen and you.

Here are a few tips.

Stop all movement, step forward, strike the ball, then start moving.

Hit softer shots. If some of your shots fall into the net, it doesn’t mean you’re not hitting it hard enough, it usually means you’re not hitting it high enough.

Use the third shot drop when your opponents are at the kitchen line. However, if the return of serve is short or high, the third shot drop is likely not the correct shot. If it’s short, drive it deep or at their feet. If it’s high, smash it!

Have a question about pickleball? Want to know more about the sport, the rules, equipment, or have some pickilicious news you would like to share with our pickleball community? Email David Zapatka at [email protected].