If you master the all-important Third Shot Drop in Pickleball, you can win a lot of games. This single shot can serve as the platform for a very successful pickleball career, regardless of your level of play. It takes place on the third shot after the serve. As you know, the first two shots following the service have to bounce before being returned. The third shot is the first one that a player can return legally without bouncing.
Because of this, the serving player or team will rush the net after hitting the second shot following the serve. They get as close to the net as they can, standing near the kitchen line. It gives them a good chance at playing a smash or dink since you and your teammate are generally towards the back of the court, waiting for the ball to bounce before you can return it.
Since your opponents in this situation (the serving team) are as close to the net as they can be to hit a volley shot legally, you want the third shot drop to arc slightly upward and then land with very little power in the kitchen. With this, the ball doesn’t bounce to a great extent and forces a very low-to-the-ground return shot from your opponent, as the player has to surge forward to get the paddle under the ball quickly.
Performed correctly, this is a devastating shot. It breaks service, can kill your opponent’s momentum, and is just one of many situations where a drop shot is so powerful. You may also use a drop or dink shot at any other point during play. Drop shots seemingly “fall off of the tabletop,” losing trajectory quickly as soon as they clear the net, making them difficult to return.
What to Do When You Hit a Drop Shot Poorly
The perfect drop shot will reach its highest point on your side of the net, in your kitchen. A poorly hit drop shot usually has a lot of trajectory on the other side of the net, making it easier for your opponent to return. If you want to “fix” a drop shot after you hit it incorrectly, there are a few things you can do. Take note that you cannot rewind your time machine for a couple of seconds and redo things.
With this in mind, you should get yourself in the ready position. However, don’t yet rush to the kitchen. If you move towards the net and hit the drop shot poorly, your opponent can employ a smash or a lob to end the point. Remember to adopt the mindset that you are starting over after a poor drop shot. Bend your knees slightly, have your racket in front of your chest or stomach, and make your stance parallel to the net.
Move about halfway up into your service court. If you are playing singles, hug the middle of the court. When your drop shots or dink shots don’t go like you want them to, get ready for a returned drop shot, a smash shot, or a lob. The only way to do this is to assume the ready position, commit to nothing, and prepare yourself for any shot. If your opponent mis-hits and gives you a lollipop you can smash, this position makes it easy to do so.
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