More than likely you haven’t heard of a hairpin drop unless you’ve played badminton. But it is a
shot Deb Harrison, who has taught Pickleball for 10 years, likes her students to learn. So the
question to answer is, what is a hairpin drop in Pickleball and when do you use it? The hairpin
drop is a shot where the ball bounces close to the net. So if you are dinking, the ball should go
over the net and land just a few inches from the net on the other side. Deb said, “My male
partner who I usually I play with a lot, his name is Ted Meyer. And he said, Debbie, make the
ball bounce, make the ball bounce. If it bounces, they can’t attack you as easily.” This is true
even if you hit a hairpin drop and it bounces high. Since the ball has bounced near the net, it is
hard to attack.
To practice the hairpin drop, Deb has her students start by standing in the non-volley zone.
They then have to hit the ball high enough so it goes over the net and bounces near the net on
the other side. The goal is for the ball to bounce as close as possible to the net. To do this,
your paddle must hit underneath the ball. You should lift with your legs and shoulder, but be
sure not to use your wrist. Once you get the hang of hitting the hairpin drop, move back to the
non-volley zone line. You’ll find you need to hit the ball a bit higher to get it over the net so it
lands shallow in the non-volley zone.
The idea of the hairpin drop also applies to the third shot. You need to hit a third shot drop so it
doesn’t go too deep in the court. According to Deb, “Most recently when I’ve been teaching the
third shot drop, if I start with a hairpin, getting the importance of the ball going over the net and
shallow in the court. It really helps when you move back a little bit. Hairpin, hairpin, hairpin
from all the way back at the baseline which becomes a third shot drop. If they understand that
you can’t get deep on a third shot, the hairpin concept makes it clearer to them.”
In other words, you’ve got to get the ball very close to the net even on the third shot in order for
it to bounce before getting to your opponent. And this is especially true if you play against
opponents who really lean into the kitchen while standing at the non-volley zone line.
Still remember the goal is to get the ball to bounce as close to the net as possible while making
sure you get it over the net. Deb provided some guidance on the hitting the hairpin drop on the
third shot. She said, “It’s the depth of the ball not the height. You can if you’re in back of the
baseline, you can afford to keep the ball a little higher. When you start closing in, you’ve got to
start getting lower and lower and lower, but you can afford to get that ball over the net a little
higher from way back.”
As you can see, the hairpin drop can be used from just about any position. So now even if you
have never played badminton, you know what a hairpin drop is and how to use it on the