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Mastering the Pickleball 3rd Shot Drop: A Game-Changing Strategy for Winning Points

In pickleball knowing how to properly execute the 3rd shot drop is a game-changing strategy that can turn the tide of a match. This tactical shot involves skillfully placing the ball close to the net on the third shot, immediately after the serve and the return. The 3rd shot drop is not only a defensive maneuver but also a way to gain control and set the pace of the game. In this blog post, we'll explore the art of the 3rd shot drop, its significance, and how to execute it effectively. Get ready to elevate your pickleball game with this invaluable strategy!

Understanding the 3rd Shot Drop

The 3rd shot drop is a technique used by the serving team after the return of serve to neutralize the opponents' position at the net and regain control of the rally. The goal is to place the ball softly and precisely into the opponents' non-volley zone, forcing them to hit from a defensive position and create an opportunity for your team to move up to the net.

The Technique Behind the Shot

To execute a successful 3rd shot drop, follow these steps:

  • Positioning: As the serving team, be ready to move forward towards the kitchen (non-volley zone) line after serving.

  • Soft Grip: Use a soft grip on your pickleball paddle to control the shot.

  • Contact Point: Make contact with the ball just below its equator to create a gentle, arcing trajectory.

  • Loft: Aim to clear the net with enough loft to prevent your shot from being attacked aggressively by the opponents.

  • Landing Zone: Target a spot in the opponents' non-volley zone, close to the net, where they would have difficulty hitting the ball aggressively.

The Importance of the 3rd Shot Drop

The 3rd shot drop is crucial for several reasons:

  • Regain Control: After the serve and return, the serving team is often at a disadvantage. The 3rd shot drop allows them to regain control of the rally.

  • Neutralize Opponents: Placing the ball in the opponents' non-volley zone forces them to play defensively, giving your team a chance to advance to the net.

  • Strategic Play: The 3rd shot drop sets up your team for a strong position at the net, putting you in a better position to win the point.

Using the 3rd Shot Drop Effectively

Incorporate the 3rd shot drop into your gameplay strategically:

  • Variety: Mix up your shots to keep your opponents guessing, making it harder for them to predict your next move.

  • Timing: Execute the 3rd shot drop early in the game to establish control and set the tone for the rest of the match.

  • Practice: Regularly practice this shot to develop consistency and accuracy, as mastering the 3rd shot drop requires finesse.

Here's a great drill to practice your 3rd shot drop:


The 3rd shot drop is a game-changing strategy that can take your pickleball skills to the next level. By incorporating this tactical shot into your gameplay, you can regain control, neutralize opponents, and set yourself up for success on the court.


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