Smart Pickleball Third Shot Drop

Third shot drop

Third shot drop… Figure that shot out, practice it, use it as one of your many shot options and then you’ll be playing some smart pickleball!

What is the third shot drop?

The third shot drop is hit by the serving team after the return and it is the third shot of a point. For example, I serve to you (shot #1), you return the serve (shot #2) and I hit (shot #3) – hence third shot. Okay, basics over, now time to understand and practice this shot.

I had lunch with my dad, Bob Youngren, the other day and he shared that he had been helping students on their third shot drop and he really liked a video that Wes Gabrielsen did with Rusty of Pickleball Channel. He now uses that particular drill that Wes does to help players really get the feel and understanding of the motion of this shot. So I said, great, went home watched it and IT IS GREAT. SHORT AND SWEET! I took that teaching tid-bit with me to Barcelona, Spain this month and everyone loved it. I love it because it is simple and most importantly, stresses the correct motion and will build good muscle memory.

The summary of this third shot video is:

  • You’re NOT hitting a soft groundstroke
  • You get and stay low to the ground (important for most shots)
  • Your paddle face stays open, allowing you to get the arc of the ball that you need
  • Hit in an upward motion
  • Keep the apex of the ball on your side of the net (“Apex” word… thank you Brian Staub 🙂

This video displays the visuals perfectly and also shows you some drills to do. Everyone is always asking for drills to do… well, here is a perfect one to practice:

Improve Your Third Shot Drop with Wes Gabrielsen


and remember, I always say NEVER DO DRILLS unless someone is watching you, because you can drill all day and keep doing the wrong thing over and over and over and over…  More on that!

Have fun with this one and be smart!

Third shot drop


3 comments on “Smart Pickleball Third Shot Drop”

  1. I just stumbled across this post, and it is great. Thank you for sharing a simple way to work on that shot. I will be sharing it with my club. Thanks Jennifer.

  2. For me, three additional concepts really help my third shot; (1) wait until the ball is on its downward trajectory or has almost reached the ground before hitting the shot; (2) execute an inverted bow, “scooping” stroke pattern; and (3) accompany the stroke with a knee lift with your legs to lift the ball over the net. Also, because the third shot dropper is so vital to advanced play, include some baseline droppers as part of your warmup routine. Finally, do not get too fine with the shot. Most droppers miss into the net.

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