How To Hit A Third Shot Drop In Pickleball? Pickleball Guide

A third shot drop in pickleball is a soft shot that lands in the opponents’ side of the kitchen and allows the serving team to move forward. It is a useful shot to neutralize the advantage of the receiving team, who are already at the net. A good third shot drop should have a low trajectory, clear the net by a few inches, and bounce softly in the kitchen. That makes it difficult for the opponents to attack.

third drop shot

Third shot drop in pickleball is a slang term for a soft shot that is performed at or near the baseline and lands in the opponent’s non-volley zone, also known as the kitchen. The name “third shot drop” comes from the fact that it is usually the third shot of the rally, after the serve and the return of serve.

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The third shot drop is one of the most important and challenging shots to master in pickleball. Just like dink shot, it requires good technique, timing, and placement. It can also vary depending on the height, speed, and spin of the return of serve.

Here are some simple steps to help you execute a perfect third shot drop in pickleball,

1 – Stay low, bend your knees and get under the ball. This will help you control the height and depth of your shot.

2 – Keep your swing path moving low to high. This will create a gentle arc that clears the net and drops into the kitchen. Coaches will tell you to push through “2-4 balls” to ensure your follow-through.

3 – Shorten your backswing. A big backswing will mess with your timing and make you hit the ball too hard or too late. You only need a small backswing to generate enough power for a third shot drop.

4 – Visualize a spot halfway between the landing spot and you (typically your kitchen line). Visualize this same spot being 5-6 feet high or lower.

5 – Hit the ball towards that spot. This is how you execute a third shot drop.

6 – Communicate with your partner and move up together. After hitting a good third shot drop, you should follow the ball and move up to the kitchen line with your partner.

This will put you in a better position to continue the rally and apply pressure on your opponents.


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Improve your dink shot

Practicing your third shot drop in pickleball is a great way to improve your pickleball game and gain an advantage over your opponents. The third shot drop is a soft shot that lands in the opponents’ side of the kitchen and allows you to move forward to the net. 

Here are some drills that you can try to practice your third shot drop,

Slinky Drill

This drill helps you develop the feel and touch for the third shot drop in pickleball.

  • You need a partner and a bucket of balls.
  • One person stands at the baseline and the other person stands at the kitchen line.
  • The person at the baseline feeds a ball to the person at the kitchen, who then hits a third shot drop back to the baseline.
  • The person at the baseline catches the ball and puts it in the bucket.
  • Repeat this until you run out of balls or switch roles.

Make 10 Drops in a Row 

For this drill you need a partner and a bucket of balls. One person stands at the baseline and the other person stands at the kitchen line.

  • The person at the baseline serves a ball to the person at the kitchen, who then hits a third shot drop back to the baseline.
  • The person at the baseline tries to catch the ball before it bounces twice. If they catch it, they put it in the bucket and serve another ball.
  • If they miss it, they start over from zero.
  • The goal is to make 10 drops in a row without missing.

Half Volley 

This drill helps you practice your timing and technique for the third shot drop. You need a partner and a bucket of balls. One person stands at the baseline and the other person stands at the kitchen line.

  • The person at the baseline feeds a ball to the person at the kitchen, who then hits a half volley (a shot that is hit just after it bounces) as a third shot drops back to the baseline.
  • The person at the baseline catches the ball and puts it in the bucket. Repeat this until you run out of balls or switch roles.

Feeding a Return

This pickleball drill helps you simulate a real game situation for the third shot drop.

  • You need four players and a bucket of balls.
  • Two players stand at opposite baselines and two players stand at opposite kitchen lines.
  • The player at one baseline serves a ball to the player at the opposite kitchen, who then returns it with a drive or a lob.
  • The server then hits a third shot drop to either of the players at the kitchen, who then tries to volley it back.
  • The rally continues until someone wins or loses the point.
  • Repeat this until you run out of balls or switch roles.

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