What Is A Drop Shot In Pickleball? A Helpful Beginner’s Guide

Many shots and techniques are used in pickleball, but none are more important than the drop shot. In the high-level play, this move can be tough to learn, but important from a strategic standpoint. So, what is a drop shot, and why is it so important in pickleball?

Your opponent’s no-volley zone is filled with precise, gentle drop shots. In addition to advancing your team to the net, they equalize your opponent’s advantage in position. One of the most advanced pickleball techniques is the third shot drop. 

It will explain what drop shots are, why they’re important in pickleball strategy, and how to execute these shots. There will also be drills to help you perfect your drop shot technique.

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It takes just a few strokes for a beginner to become a tournament-ready 4.0 player with the drop shot.   

Its importance of it cannot be overstated.  It’s time to get started.

The Drop Shot In Pickleball

What Is A Drop Shot In PickleballA drop shot is one of the most important skills in pickleball. It can assist players in covering the ground and getting to the kitchen line, even though it is usually used from the baseline as the third shot of a rally.

The drop shot is also a common technique at the net to slow down a hard-hit ball and initiate a softer rally.

Pickleball is a game of taking advantage of the speed and dropping it in the non-volley zone. This is one of the most lethal shots in the game.

In pickleball, a drop shot should either force your opponent to commit an error or give you the opportunity to capitalize on an attackable ball.

What Is The Purpose Of A Drop Shot?

What Is A Drop Shot In PickleballThe goal of drop shots is to gain net control and set up a powerful return shot by hitting the opponent’s non-volley zone (NVZ).

In the first place, a good drop shot gives your team complete control over the net. You have the opportunity to travel forward to the non-volley zone line as a result of its slow, floaty path. 

This position usually gives you the best opportunity to score since you’re closest to the basket.  Getting to the net is crucial to picking up a pickleball match.  Drop shots are the only shots that give the serving team a chance to get to the net as quickly as possible.

Furthermore, a well-placed drop shot allows you to take advantage of the opponent’s return shot. Because a drop shot lacks power, it should not bounce high. Your opponent is forced to typically return the ball in an upward swing close to the basket due to the low height of the ball.

When these upward-shot balls land on the non-volley line, they usually travel slower, higher, and closer to you. Consequently, they present ripe opportunities for you to score with a strong downward return. 

An “attackable ball” is one that can be attacked.  It’s also possible to set them up with Drop Shots.

You will have a greater chance of hitting down on your next shot and putting it away with authority with a well-placed and well-timed drop shot in pickleball. 

A drop shot sets up an overhead smash or baseline passing shot that allows pros to put points away.  To set up, you must be patient and precise. 

As a pickleball equalizer, the drop shot can be compared to the drop shot. During this time, you and your teammate can strategically position themselves to neutralize your opponent’s advantage.

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When To Do A Drop Shot In Pickleball

Drop shots are most effective when you and your partner are near the baseline since that allows you to move forward to the net.

This occurs most commonly after the serve and return of serve during the third shot of a point.  The term “third shot drop” has become so common in pickleball because of this. 

Consequently, the serving team uses drop shots more frequently.  Serving teams may need to wait until the 5th or 7th shot of the rally to take a timely drop shot into the kitchen if the return team keeps them back at the baseline with deep return shots.  

Drop shots are generally used by serving teams to compensate for their positional disadvantage on the third shot of a rally.

As a result of their faster reach to the net, the return team has an advantage over the tennis team.

The drop shot is most effective if your opponent is already at his or her non-volley zone line.  Using drop shots that bounce twice can be a good way to catch opponents off guard when they’re behind the baseline.  

The net is the game in pickleball, so control it. 

It does not mean, however, that drop shots are always optimal, just because they are advanced shots. As a result of the precision required, the move can reap high rewards, but it is also high risk. 

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Explaining The Third Shot Drop

Taking a look at the third shot drop and why it is so important for recreational and tournament pickleball games will clarify what it is and why it is so important.

This technique is commonly used on the third shot of a rally, thus earning it the name third shot drop.  I will keep this post simple in order to avoid wasting too much time analyzing pickleball strategy.

Related: Can you think of a more unique moniker for the third shot drop?  You won’t believe how pickleball got its name.

For a four-player pickleball game, the serving team usually starts with both players near the baseline. 

For the return team, one player will usually be back, while another will be near the kitchen. The defending team gains a positional advantage from the start because it has a forward near the net.

Upon receiving the ball, the server hits it diagonally to the person behind them (the receiving player). After receiving the serve, the receiving team returns it. Serving teams will normally be still at their baselines, with the opposing teams moving forward.

The return team is at an advantage because of that, even though it may not seem much.  

In the above example, the serving team drops a low, soft shot into the kitchen, gaining ground towards the net and hopefully obtaining a high, attackable ball.

By properly executing this shot and the follow-up shot, the defending team is effectively deprived of its positional advantage. 

Third shot drops are great equalizers and help level the playing field. 

How To Do A Drop Shot In Pickleball

What Is A Drop Shot In PickleballThe point at which you’re reading this is that you’re looking to master the shop shot in pickleball using some easy drills.  There’s nothing I can’t handle.

Pickleball drop shots are straightforward to perform if you learn the basic steps.

In order to perform a consistent drop shot, here are seven tips for beginners:

  1. With a similar technique and a loose grip, the drop shot is essentially a longer dink.
  2. Get under the ball by bending your knees.  Ideally, you should find a point of contact about knee level or lower.
  3. Push shots should have little wind-up behind them.
  4. To provide the arc, lift the ball upward in a pendulum motion.
  5. In your kitchen area, on your side of the net, the arc’s apex should always be.  You can leave the rest to gravity. 
  6. If possible, try to locate yourself somewhere between the opposing kitchen and dining area.  Don’t go too deep, but don’t go too close either.  
  7. To get to your kitchen line, maintain your forward momentum.

The apex of your drop shot should be over your side of the court, which should be reinforced again. Using too much force or aiming too far might cause you to miss.

Ideally, you should find a trajectory height that’s somewhere between too low (net height) and too high (like a rainbow).  Your drop shot will usually land deeper if your arc is higher.

If you throw it too deeply, your opponents will have no problem volleying it right out of the air.  If the depth is too shallow, you may hit the net.  The approach is similar to the Goldilocks approach.  In the middle of the kitchen, aim for something in the middle.

Do you learn better visually? Fortunately, you’ve come to the right place.  How to accomplish this maneuver can be found in dozens of video guides online.

A great place to start is with these YouTube video tutorials:

Drills For Drops Shots

The drop shot is one of the most difficult shots in pickleball. If you can’t manage it right away, don’t be discouraged.  For most people, learning the move and playing with it competently requires plenty of practice.

A few different strategies can help newcomers master this move, and they should learn incrementally.  

Practicing Drop Shots With A Partner

What Is A Drop Shot In PickleballDrilling this technique will feel much more natural if you have a friend who is willing to help. 

The drill can be done on a court with a net if you have one available. Both players should stand near or in the kitchen, opposite the net.

Then you can return to the no-volley zone area with direct shots from your partner. Practice upward contact while staying loose and low, and pay attention to how the ball moves so that you can adjust your stroke as needed.

Keep your grip loose at all times. 

Take a step backward as you become more comfortable.  Eventually, you’ll be landing drop shots from the baseline as you get into a rhythm. 

In addition, your partner can change the angle and depth to make it more challenging for you.

You can also practice drop shots from all over the court and backhanded shots by changing up where your partner is hitting from.  

A drill with more variability will mimic real-life play during a game better because it will mimic real-world play during a drill. 

Practicing Drop Shots Alone

It is still possible to practice a drop shot without a partner even if you are not playing with one.

Drop pickleball into the kitchen from anywhere on the court and practice hitting them straight into it.  

You won’t be able to practice hitting off of this shot exactly, but you can practice your upward dinking motion from far away and improve your aim.

To improve your shot accuracy even further, you can set up targets in the kitchen.  When you’re practicing solo, cones like these are really convenient. 

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What Is A Drop Shot In Pickleball – Conclusion

The learning curve for pickleball is short and the mastery curve is long. Pickleball manages to balance wide accessibility with a high skill ceiling like few other sports.

Drop shots are the most important and most challenging shots in pickleball.  Despite its challenges, a beginner can do it and use it recreationally if he or she knows what to work on and what technique to use.

Drop shots in pickleball have three main goals: getting your team to the net, forcing an opponent’s error, or setting yourself up to attack a ball.

Drill, drill, drill, and drill some more if you want to master the drop shot. 

It is possible to achieve the drop shot regardless of your skill level, although it might take more time depending on your experience level.

Take your time and enjoy yourself!  Thanks for reading! I hope it was helpful.