The third shot drop is a staple in Pickleball. If you watch a pro match, it’s rare for them hit anything other than a drop shot on the third hit. With that being said there are times when you should not hit a third shot drop. In this case, you should drive the ball low and hard over the net. Or, if your opponent has a weak backhand, try hitting the ball a bit higher to the backhand side.
Before going over the reasons why you should not hit a third shot drop, let’s take a look at the pros hitting some. Remember that the third shot drop is the third shot hit in the rally. After the serve and serve return comes the third shot. So, this is the first shot hit by the serving team after the serve. Notice how it is a soft shot which typically lands deep in the kitchen.
With that being said, here’s a run down of the reasons not to hit a third shot drop.
#1 Avoid Hitting a Third Shot Drop When Your Opponent stays at the Baseline
While you’ll never see the pros stay at the baseline after hitting the serve return, it occurs frequently at the beginning and intermediate levels. So, if your opponent returns the serve and stays back, go ahead and drive the ball deep into the court. In Pickleball doubles, it is very difficult to hit an outright winner from the baseline even if that is your go to shot as a tennis player.
#2 Avoid hitting a Third Shot Drop When Your Opponent’s Return is Short
A short serve return happens in all levels of Pickleball. While the pros rarely hit short, they sometimes do. And, players at the beginning, intermediate, and advanced levels often do. So if the ball bounces in the kitchen or just beyond the kitchen line it is a good idea to drive the ball. Again, hit the ball low and hard over the net. Be sure to keep the ball in bounds as your forward momentum can cause you to hit the ball out.
#3 Avoid Hitting a Third Shot Drop When You’re Off Balance
In looking at this pro point, you can see there is some confusion as to who was going to hit the third shot. Since the drop shot is a touch shot, you need to be set up properly to hit it. It’s easier to drive the ball even if you are off balance as you can see this is what happened in the match.
#4 Avoid Hitting a Third Shot Drop When Your Opponent Expects You to Hit One
If you always hit a third shot drop, you may want to consider mixing things up. Once and awhile, go ahead and drive the ball on the third shot. You can hit the ball low and hard over the net or try hitting a higher hard shot to your opponents backhand so they have to reach for the ball.
The third shot drop is critical for players looking to improve their Pickleball game. However, you can be opportunistic and drive the ball in the situations mentioned above. Just make sure you drive the ball low over the net or hit a higher, hard shot if your opponent has a weak backhand.