Welcome to the first print episode of Pickleball 411. I’m Rusty Howes, the creator of Pickleball Channel and this article is dedicated to providing helpful information about the sport. To watch the complete video version of this Pickleball 411, go to and consider becoming a subscriber for free to receive weekly videos just like this one by going to
RUSTY: This week, we’re going to give you some tips to help improve your third shot drop. Today on Pickleball 411, I’m really excited to be here with Wes Gabrielsen. He’s a top 5.0 pickleball player and tennis coach.
WES: Well, as you know, in pickleball, hitting a third shot drop is a very important part of the game. And oftentimes some of the better players have a hard time keeping the ball low on this shot. I’m going to give you some tips today on how to improve that third ball drop.
The third shot drop is when a player is at the baseline trying to hit the ball from deep in the court into the kitchen. One challenge that people face when they hit this shot is they often hit it too far. Today, I’m going to give you some tips to help you make sure that you hit a good third shot.
A DIFFERENT STROKE
It’s important to know that when you’re hitting this third shot drop, you’re not hitting a soft forehand. You’re actually hitting a different stroke. The challenge of hitting a soft forehand is that it’s difficult to actually drop the ball in the kitchen. The trajectory of the shot is a flatter shot, and it’s more difficult to control. What often happens is that people hit their forehand too hard, because they’re trying to hit it over the net. What happens as a result is it usually goes right to their opponent (to volley).
STAY LOW AND LIFT
When you’re hitting a third shot drop, it’s important to follow a few key steps in order to be successful. First of all, when you hit the shot, you want to make sure that you get low to the ground. Stay low through contact. You do not want to pop your body up too early. This is going to allow you to hit the ball up and drop it effectively in the kitchen.
Next, you want to make sure that your paddle face is open. As you’re hitting this shot, it’s important that the ball goes up giving you the arc you want to hit a good shot. The motion of the shot is going to be a lot like a serve in pickleball or a softball toss as you’re coming through in an upward motion.
THE 3RD SHOT DRILL
WES: Here’s a very simple drill to help you work through the key elements of hitting this shot. What you’re going to do first is you’re going to go back to the baseline. You’re going to put your paddle down. You’re going to grab a ball, put it in your paddle hand, get low, and go through the motions of trying to toss the third shot drop into the kitchen.
After you do that 10 or 20 times and you feel comfortable lifting the ball and staying low, you’re going to pick up your paddle again. You’re going to drop the ball, let it bounce, and then actually hit the third shot drop with your paddle. As a result, the trajectory of your shot should be very similar to the toss you just had.
Remember, when you are tossing or hitting the ball in this drill, the trajectory of your shot should be an arching motion. To quote Brian Staub, “The apex of your shot should be on your side of the net.”
RUSTY: So, that’s your Pickleball 411 for today. Everybody, we really hope this has been helpful. And now there’s only one thing left to do, and that’s go play!
Special Thanks to: Wes Gabrielsen, Steve Paranto, Brian Staub, Matt Staub and The Villages.