Learn How to Pickleball 3rd Shot Drop Like an Expert

If you’re looking to elevate your pickleball game, then the third shot is an invaluable tool. Not only does it help to keep your opponent off-balance, but it can also give you a crucial advantage when trying to score points. But how do you get started with this tricky move? In this blog post, we will outline five easy steps that will have you hitting third shot like an experienced pro - from positioning yourself properly all the way through executing the perfect shot. Read on for our essential guide!
Learn How to Pickleball 3rd Shot Drop Like an Expert

What is the Pickleball Third Shot Drop?

Pickleball Third Shot Drop is one of the most important shots that every player should learn. It involves hitting a soft, low-bouncing ball just over the net so that opponents cannot reach it with their paddle.

what is pickleball drop shot

The goal of this shot is to set up an easy putaway for your partner or yourself.  This technique requires timing and accuracy, as well as the ability to vary spin on the ball.

To execute a successful three shot-drop, begin by positioning yourself close to the kitchen line about 3-4 feet back from the net.  Then hold your paddle slightly open with your dominant hand and hit just below where you would normally make contact with the ball in order to give it more spin.

Finally, aim for the ball to land just inside the opponent’s side of the court.  This will prevent them from being able to reach it in time and set up an easy put-away for you or your partner.

What Is the Purpose Of The Third Shot Drop In Pickleball?

The Third Shot is one of the most important strategies in pickleball. It’s a specific type of drop shot used to return the ball and put your opponent off balance.

The goal is to hit the ball with just enough power that it will drop and bounce twice in your opponent’s court before they are able to reach it, giving you an advantage as you have already forced them onto the defensive.

When done properly, this can be a highly effective tactic that can give you momentum and control of the game. The key here is timing; if you hit it too hard or too soft, your opponent may still get to it in time. The ideal third shot should drop within reach but too deep for your opponent to return it.

The ideal third shot should be hit hard enough that it will bounce twice, but not so hard that your opponent can reach it in time or send it out of bounds. You also want to try and place the ball far enough away from your opponent’s court so that they won’t have an easy put-away shot when they hit the ball back.

As with all strategies in pickleball, practice makes perfect when it comes to the Third Shot Drop. Experiment with different angles, power levels, and placements until you find what works best for you.

Why is the third shot drop so important?

The 3rd shot is an important skill to master in pickleball as it opens up a variety of strategies and opportunities for you to use while playing. The goal is to get your opponent off balance by making them rush back to the kitchen line or corner so they can’t reach your shot in time.

To successfully execute the third shot, drop-in pickleball, it’s important to hit with spin and aim for specific targets on either side of the court.  When returning a serve, you want to hit diagonally toward the corners of your opponent’s kitchen; this will give you the best angle to drop your shot.

You can also use a third shot when your opponent is at the kitchen line, by aiming for the service box behind them.

The third shot drop can be used to create opportunities to score points or set yourself up for a winning volley.  It’s important to practice this skill regularly in order to become comfortable and confident with it during competitive play.

With consistent practice and proper technique, any player can master the art of the 3rd shot in pickleball.  The key is to remember that it’s an advanced skill that requires both accuracy and finesse.  When executed correctly, a third shot can be a game-changer!  So don’t hesitate, grab your paddles and start practicing today!


  • It allows you to quickly move into the “No Volley Zone” (NVZ) to keep your opponent from returning an aggressive volley.
  • You can use it as an offensive or defensive strategy depending on how far away from the NVZ your opponent is located.
  • You can employ it as a surprise tactic against players who have become used to your playing style


  • If the technique is poorly executed, it can leave you vulnerable to a powerful return shot
  • You may find yourself in an awkward position if your opponent successfully returns the shot

Third Shot Drive

The player’s natural stroke is the third shot, which is much easier to execute. This happens concurrently. Instead of a higher, softer third-shot drop, a player will hit that third ball hard. The third shot drive’s objective is to hit the ball quickly while continuing to keep it low.

Pop-ups can happen when the drive is hit well, which makes put-aways simple. In the worst-case scenario, both players end up near the non-volley line and you receive an easy fifth shot to drop. Success. The objective of reaching the line is still the same. In this game, clean victories are uncommon, so aim the drive low and toward a nice area.

If the drive is too high, it will go out or get clobbered for a winner, similar to the 3rd shot drop. Rather than focusing on velocity, the drive is more about the position. The majority of drives made with all of one’s might sail far. Less accuracy is achieved on the shot the harder you hit it.

A strong 70% swing will keep the ball moving at a good clip and with greater accuracy, ultimately aiming for net height or lower. With this stroke, topspin is particularly beneficial. When the ball has enough topspin, it will begin to sink below net height, forcing the opponent to hit the ball up. Both of these shots have advantages and disadvantages and work well in various circumstances. Let’s get started:


  • forces the opposition to prepare for a faster-struck ball
  • configures shake and bake
  • The player drives and a teammate crashes into him while searching for a pop-up or anything else to score.
  • brings about more clear winners.
  • Because they don’t have as much time to react to the ball, opponents must decide whether one or two areas of the court to defend.


  • Drives veer wide or far more frequently than drops
  • Players will need to make one or more shots even with a well-hit drive to reach the NVZ.

When You Don’t Want to Hit the Third Shot Drop?

When you don’t want to hit the 3rd shot drop-in pickleball, it’s better to keep your opponent guessing. A good alternative is a dink shot, which is a light lob that goes over the net but just out of your opponent’s reach.

Another option when you don’t have time or space for a third shot drop could be angled shots. Angled shots are used to move the ball away from your opponent and open up their court for future shots.

If you find yourself in a defensive position, try hitting an overhead smash. This powerful yet accurate shot will take your opponents off guard and force them back on their heels as they scramble to return it. Finally, if your opponent is applying heavy pressure, try a drop shot. This shot is hit with great speed and accuracy, and if placed correctly will land just out of reach of your opponent’s paddle.

When you don’t want to hit the third shot drop-in pickleball, remember that there are plenty of alternatives to keep yourself on the point. With a variety of dinks, angled shots, overhead smashes.

How to execute the third shot drop?

The third shot drop is a key skill to learn in pickleball. It involves using a light touch and precise aiming to hit the ball deep into the opponent’s court, making it difficult for them to return. The third shot drop can be a game changer if executed correctly, as it helps you control the pace of play and put your opponents under pressure.

To execute a successful third shot drop, follow these five easy steps:

1. Position yourself correctly

You will need to position yourself close enough to the net so that you can reach it with an extended arm but far enough away so that you have time to react when your opponent hits the ball back.

2. Aim carefully for the lines

Aiming for the lines of your opponent’s court will give them less room to return the ball and increase your chance of success.

3. Use a light touch

To successfully execute a third shot drop, you need to be gentle with your racket. A light stroke helps prevent your opponents from anticipating where you are aiming.

4. Follow through and stay low

Make sure that you follow through with your swing and stay low so that you can maintain control over the game.

5. Practice makes perfect

As with any skill, practice is key when it comes to executing a successful third-shot drop-in pickleball.

By following these simple steps, you will be able to master the art of the 3rd shot drop in pickleball. With enough practice, you will be able to control the pace of play and put your opponents under pressure.

A Drill for the third shot drop

The 3rd shot drop is a key technique to have in pickleball. This move involves hitting the ball low and deep, making it difficult for your opponent to reach the ball.

To practice this move, you can use the “wall-bounce” drill. Begin by standing near the wall that is at least 20 feet away from you and bounce the balls off of it so they bounce back toward you. As this progresses, gradually take a step back each time and make sure that the ball bounces higher than usual on its return until you are about 40 feet away from the wall.

At this point, your goal should be to hit a soft third shot over the net which will stay low after bouncing and make it difficult for your opponent to reach the ball.

To ensure optimal performance, take note of your body’s positioning when executing a third shot. Make sure that you are in an athletic stance with your feet set apart and knees bent slightly. You should also make sure that you are not too close or far away from the net as this can affect the accuracy of your shot.

Practice this drill consistently to ensure that you have mastered the 3rd shot drop technique in pickleball. In time, you will be able to hit accurate shots which will leave your opponent scrambling!

Does My Paddle Affect the Drop of a Third Shot?

A small (5% difference) can be made by your paddle. Find a paddle that feels softer or fits your style of play after you have mastered the foundations and techniques.

How can I retrieve a dropped third shot?

To retrieve a dropped third shot you need to play to your opponent's weaker side. This will force them to make a mistake that you can then punish.

What are some third shot drop drills?

Two of the most basic third-shot drop drills are  "Call Your Shot" and "target tiny miss small,". They are quite a few out there but these are the most effective ones


 If you followed our guide, hopefully, you now understand the 3rd shot drop-in and how to properly execute it. This difficult but rewarding shot is key to success in pickleball, so keep practicing until you have it down pat. With enough dedication and effort, you’ll be impressing your opponents with your fancy footwork and sharp shooting in no time.

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