What Is a Third Shot Drop In Pickleball? Learn It Today!

If you have been playing pickleball for a while, you must have already had a conversation about how to shoot a third shot drop at some point. Indeed, mastering the third shot drop will guarantee that you are always a top performer in your tournaments. Fortunately, you don’t have to be perfect at it, but you must know how to execute it at least. Let’s find out what a third shot drop is and how to use it against your opponents!

What Is Pickleball and How Exactly Does it Work?

It is an outdoor/indoor racket sport that can be played by either two (singles) or four players (doubles). The game combines the three racket games: badminton, table tennis, and tennis. Pickleball was invented in 1965 by three men looking for a game for their bored children. The men made the game out of a table tennis paddle, a badminton net, and a ball.

Pickleball borrows from the three racket games mentioned before; however, there are significant notable differences. For instance, the size of the pickleball field is significantly smaller, almost similar to that of table tennis. Consequently, the players don’t have to run much as in badminton and tennis. It would explain why the sport is growing among community centers and retirement homes. Interestingly, most core pickleball players are 55 years and above. Pickleball is still a casual game, with players often playing with music in the background. The rules are relatively simple and easy to understand.

In addition, the ball used in pickleball is significantly different from others. The Pickleball ball is made of plastic and perforated with holes to ensure the wind goes through it. Unlike tennis, the ball is light and moves swiftly and smoothly through the air. You play pickleball with a paddle rather than a racket. Notably, a paddle is significantly smaller than a racket and comes in many designs.

What Is a Third Shot Drop In Pickleball?

If you want to master pickleball, then you need to know what is a third shot drop in pickleball and it is an essential move to learn. The third shot is performed at or near the baseline that, if well-executed, lands right in the other player’s kitchen. The intention behind performing this shot is to slow the game down in a bid to win the game. The significant difference between a third shot drop and other shots is that it is usually performed at the baseline or somewhere near. A third-shot drop is essential to get the opponents to the net. It is hard performing a third shot drop, especially for beginners; however, don’t worry; we will walk you through it!

It is called a third shot drop because it is served during the third serve. In pickleball, there is a typical opening sequence. First, there is the first serve and the return. With the first two shots, the players should keep the ball out of the kitchen and adhere to the double-serve rule. The third shot is the game-changer. The serving team has a considerable advantage in pickleball because they are essentially the ones whose scores are recorded. Additionally, being on the serving team offers an advantage because you control the play and decrease the other players’ chances of returning the ball.

what is a third shot drop in pickleball

What Is The Importance Of The Third Shot Drop In Pickleball?

The third shot drop is significant because it limits your opponent’s ability to attack and gives your team time to move toward the net and neutralize the court. After the first serve and return, the serving team usually lags back away from the net at the baseline while the opponents move closer to the net. The third shot is typically a soft, arching shot that, when executed correctly, gives the serving team time to inch closer to the net to meet their opponent. The third shot drop has a dropping effect, limiting your opponent’s ability to hit back the ball in the kitchen, resulting in losing the game. By using the third shot drop, you get to move the opposing team near the net and put your team back in control of the game.

How Do You Execute the Third Shot Drop In Pickleball?

It will take some time to master the third shot drop; however, it will be worth all your efforts. Learning how to dink to get consistent with your third shot drop would be your best chance at becoming a master. Dinks are typically soft shot hits that go across the net to land straight or diagonally across the opponent’s court. A good dink should make it hard for the opponent to create difficulty returning a power shot.

If you execute your third shot drop well, you and your partner will have enough time to rush to the kitchen before the opponent hits their return shot. In addition, a third shot drop will limit the opponent’s ability to smash the ball with force; therefore, the return shot will meet you and your partner in the acceptable range.

Don’t put much pressure on yourself when learning how to dink. Start by shooting close-range dinks and consistently increase the distance towards the baseline. Venetally, you will be able to dink shots with more power; it only needs a follow-through. To perform an excellent third shot, drop, get low to the ground, and maintain the opposition when making the shot. Also, don’t rush to the kitchen as it might ruin your dink.

The Execution Of The Third Shot Drop

To execute the third shot swing, ensure your grip of the paddle is neutral; a firm grip will likely send the ball flying into the opponent’s baseline. Additionally, make the shot with forward momentum to help you advance toward the net. Gaining momentum can help you hit the ball more consistently and accurately. Making the aim is difficult when executing this move, mainly because you need help seeing the opponent’s kitchen. The kitchen is typically 7 feet long, but to you and your opponent, it looks like a small area to aim for.

The third shot drop follows the rules of physics, where when the ball travels through the air, it loses speed and gets affected by gravity, eventually dropping. Additionally, avoid moving inside the baseline after making the first serve. Stepping inside the baseline limits the ability of your team to take a third shot drop, increasing the chances of losing the rally.

How Can the Pickleball Third Shot Drop Go Wrong?

As we said, mastering the third shot drop is no child’s play, and there are many instances where it goes wrong. Here are ways you can mishandle the third shot drop;

Hitting the Net

You can hit the net if you execute the third shot drop while trying to move toward the kitchen. Hitting the ball in motion can make you lose control over your swing. Therefore it is advisable to hit the ball first and then run forward.

You can also hit the net because you are hitting the ball too hard. However, we are here to tell you that it is better to hit the ball too hard than too softly into the net.

Hitting the Ball too High

Besides hitting the net, most players also hit the ball too high when trying to execute a third shot drop. Hitting the ball too high will give your opponents two choices: drive the serve back at you or smash the ball out of the air, lowering your chances.

Try aiming at the apex rather than the kitchen to limit the chances of hitting the ball too high. The kitchen looks so far away that you might be tempted to hit the ball hard. Additionally, you will have to learn how to take softer hits with practice.

When Not to Use the Third Shot Drop in Pickleball

Yes, the third shot drop guarantees a win for your team; however, you should not use it all time. For instance, if your opponent returns a serve that is too high and short, you should drive the ball back instead of executing the third shot drop.

Additionally, avoid driving shots when you are further away or behind the baseline. Driving the ball when you are way back in the baseline gives the opponent time to control the game and keep you away from the net. Taking a drive from behind the baseline or inside the backcourt can disadvantage you. Pulling a third shot drive is the most appropriate action in such instances.


The third shot drive will increase your chances of winning any pickleball game; therefore, you should never fail to use it when an opportunity arises. To become the next pickleball superstar in your tournaments, you should practice your aim and grip.

Aim for the apex instead of the kitchen when driving this shot, increasing your chances of making a goal. Notably, beginners take months trying to figure out the serve; therefore, brace yourself!