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Pickleball Third Shot Drop | Strategies for Winning Game

In this article, I’ll explain why the third shot drop is one of pickleball’s most important shots. In this shot, the player hits the ball low and softly into the opponent’s non-volley zone. Making it difficult for the opposing team to hit an effective shot and take control of the game. There are different types of shots  use in pickleball, you can choose from it according to your preference & Styles

What is a Third Shot Drop in Pickleball?

In pickleball, a third shot drop is a strategic shot use to maintain control. It occurs after the ball has been returned from the serving team to the receiving team.

Usually, the serving team hits the third shot, which is mean to land in the non-volley zone.

Non-volley zones, also called kitchen lines, are areas near the net where players cannot hit the ball in the air. Softly hitting the ball into this zone can force the opposing team to hit a difficult shot, potentially winning the point.

Why is the 3rd Shot Drop Important in Pickleball?

In pickleball, the third shot drop is important because it can allow the serving team to keep the game under control. By hitting the ball softly and with a low trajectory, the serving team can prevent the opposing team from hitting a good shot and potentially winning the point.

Additionally, the third shot drop can allow the serving team to get closer to the net and potentially win the point by hitting a volley. Serving teams can force the opposing team to hit a high ball, which can be easily volleyed, by hitting the ball into the non-volley zone. Here are the different pickleball kitchen rules you have to master to defeat your opponent in the net.

Pickleball 3rd Shot Strategies

The serving and receiving teams can use different strategies to hit the 3rd shot in pickleball. Here are some strategies to consider.

Serving Team’s Strategy

As a serving team, you should aim for the serve-receive zone behind the non-volley zone when you serve. The receiving team will be unable to hit a good return, setting up the serving team for a successful 3rd shot drop.

Use of Third Shot Drive

Meanwhile, this happens. A player will hit the third ball hard instead of a higher, softer drop. The third shot drive’s goal is to push the ball quickly while continuing to keep it low.

Pop-ups can happen when the drive is played well, which makes put-aways simple. In the worst-case situation, both players end up near the non-volley line, and you receive an easy fifth shot to drop. Victory !

Avoid observing

This last piece of advice focuses more on what to do after the shot than on what to do before it. Making a third shot fall is one way to give oneself time to go to the net and be in an excellent position to finish the game. Even if you successfully land third shot drop, neglecting to react renders it ineffective if your opponent returns it.

How to Hit a Third Shot Drop in Pickleball

Here are some pickleball third shot strategies to help you hit a successful shot after understanding the basics of the third shot drop:

  • Use a paddle with good touch: A paddle with a soft, responsive face will allow you to control the ball’s speed and direction.
  • Aim for the kitchen line: You should aim to hit the ball just over the net and land it in your opponent’s kitchen, making it difficult for them to return it.
  • Hit the ball softly: When you hit the ball softly, it will drop quickly, and your opponent will have less time to react to it.
  • Use topspin: Adding topspin to your shot can keep the ball low and boost its forward momentum.
  • Focus on placement: Instead of hitting the ball hard, place it where your opponent will have difficulty returning it.
Third Shot Drop

Tips for Perfecting Your Third Shot Drop

  • Use a Soft Shot: Hit the shot drop with finesse rather than power and with a soft touch. To make the ball spin and drop gently over the net, hit the ball with an open paddle face.
  • Aim for the Opponent’s Kitchen Line: When dropping the third shot, you should target the opponent’s kitchen line or non-volley zone. By doing this, the opponent has difficulty hitting a drop shot and losing control of the ball.
  • Hit Your Drop Shot Low: To make it harder for your opponent to return the ball, hit it low, just over the net. Taking control of the game is easy when the third shot drops high.
  • Variate Your Shots: Don’t always hit the ball to the same spot on the court. It will be harder for the opponent to predict where to place the ball if you mix it up and aim for different areas.
  • Use your opponent’s momentum: If your opponent is moving forward and aggressively playing. Use their momentum against them by hitting a soft drop shot.
  • Keep your body balanced: Keep your body balanced and in control when playing pickleball. Your weight should be centered on maintaining control of the shot as you maintain a neutral stance.
  • Reduce Your Swing: This shot doesn’t need a lot of power. So you should usually shorten your swing into the ball. When you swing with a wide arc, the ball won’t fall into the kitchen as expected. It is important to force your body through the ball, but the swing should be light and brief.
  • Keep track of your aim: No matter how you hit the ball, aim where you want it to go. When we are so busy trying to hit the ball, it is easy to lose sight of where to hit it. Nothing is the only thing you will hit if you don’t aim at anything.

By following these tips, you’ll be well on your way to hitting a successful third shot drop.

Final Words

In pickleball, the third shot drop is an essential skill that can make all the difference. The key to hitting successful third shot drops is using a good touch paddle, aiming for the kitchen line, hitting the ball softly with topspin, and placing the ball well.

Practicing regularly and keeping these tips in mind will help you become a skilled pickleball player.

Bonus Tips: To improve your performance and grip on game you have to learn rules for serving and also checkout the common mistakes made by beginners in pickleball.