Pickleball 411 is one of the most-watched shows on Pickleball Channel because of its commitment to providing helpful information about the sport of pickleball. However, we know that it is often nice to have an article you can refer to as a companion to your instruction and training.
This article features two great pickleball players and instructors, Matt and Brian Staub of Poach Pickleball. They are top 5.0 players and teachers who also happen to be father and son! While Pickleball Channel was in central Florida at The Villages, Matt and Brian did a fun video about how to improve your mechanics and get up to the net. Included in this video is a great drill for the third shot, which can help improve your game. After you have read through the article version, be sure to check out the entire video on Pickleball Channel so you can really see the drill in action.
THE THIRD SHOT
Brian: The third shot is the third ball that’s hit in the point process. The first ball would be the serve. The second ball would be the return, which would be the receiving team returning the ball, and the third ball is nothing more than the transition shot from the serving team to be able to get to the net.
THIRD SHOT DRILL
Matt: We’re going to give you a drill that will help you work on your third shot as well as practice transitioning through No Man’s Land as you gain the net.
To set up this drill, you should have a person at the net and a person at the baseline. The person at the net is going to hit the ball as deep as he/she can to the person on the baseline. Meanwhile, the person on the baseline is going to work on that third shot technique where the ball reaches the apex before the net and lands into the kitchen. The important part of it is you don’t want to hit the ball short and miss into the net. You want to see the ball go up and over the net as much as possible, rather than miss into the net and end the point.
THE SPLIT STEP
Once you’re comfortable hitting your third ball drop and you can hit it consistently, we’re going to start working our way to the kitchen. We do this by using our split steps. We’re going to hit our third ball, split step, hit a fourth ball, split step, maybe even a fifth ball, split step, until we can work all the way to the kitchen.
Something to remember when you start working your way through No Man’s Land, those shots are not going to be exactly the same as the third ball shot that you hit from the baseline. You might have some at your feet that you’re going to have to short hop. You might have to take some out of the air. The main point is that we need to get that arch so that the ball is descending into the kitchen, forcing your opponent to hit the ball up. Whether they have to let it bounce or hit it up is going to protect you as you work your way through No Man’s Land.
The third shot technique is one of the hardest parts of the game of pickleball. The thing to remember is that these are drills, and this is the perfect time to make mistakes. So, have fun doing them, and I promise, if you stick to it, your game will improve immensely.
Special thanks to: Matt Staub, Brian Staub, The Villages.
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