Capital Area Pickleball Association
Serving Dane County Wisconsin

What is the Third Shot Drop and Why is it So Important?

30 Apr 2024 11:53 AM | Abigail Darwin

Pickleball is a game of strategy, and one of the most effective strategies is the third shot drop. This shot can be a literal game-changer, helping you control the pace of the game and setting yourself up for a win. But what is it, why is it effective, and when should you use it?

What Is the Third Shot Drop?

As the name suggests, the third shot drop is a shot that can be used in the third shot scenario of a pickleball game. The third shot drop is a shot that is hit by the serving team after the serve and return, usually from near the baseline. It is essentially a long dink, hit with more follow-through, that should land just past the net, in the non-volley zone (also known as the kitchen) on your opponent's side of the court. The ball should land softly and not bounce too high, lest that allow your opponents to slam the ball back at you.

Why Is It Effective?

The third shot drop is effective because it takes away your opponent's attacking options. By hitting the ball into the kitchen and not too close to the kitchen line, with a low, small bounce, you force your opponent to hit the ball up, giving you time to get to the net and set up for the next shot. It also gives you more time to react to your opponent's shot, as the ball will be traveling slower than if you had hit a hard shot. The third shot drop also makes it difficult for your opponents to be able to volley your return.

When Should You Use It?

You should use the third shot drop when you want to slow down the pace of the game and take control of the rally. It is especially effective against opponents who like to attack and hit hard shots, as it takes away their ability to hit groundstrokes and drives.

How to Master the Third Shot Drop

To master the third shot drop, you need to practice hitting soft shots from various places on your side of the court that barely clear the net and land in your opponent’s kitchen. Start by practicing your drops from the baseline, and gradually move closer to the net as you become more comfortable with the shot. Remember to keep your wrist locked. All motion for the third-shot drop should come from your shoulder, not your wrist. Be sure to make contact with the ball in front of your body. You want to hit the ball using a low-to-high, smooth motion with your paddle.

Video Demonstration

Here is a link to a YouTube video that demonstrates how to effectively hit third-shot drops:

Disclaimer: The video was made by someone promoting Selkirk paddles. The views and opinions expressed in the video are solely those of the content producer(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of this author, CAPA, or other associated parties.


The third shot drop is an important shot to master in pickleball that can help you control the pace and strategy of the game. So, grab your paddle and start practicing your third shot drops today!

Happy pickling!

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