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The Third Shot Drop and Why it's important

Pickleball 411 is one of the top-rated shows on Pickleball Channel and is dedicated to providing helpful information about the sport of pickleball. We know that it’s sometimes nice to be able to read an article as a companion to your instruction and training.

In this article, we have Brian and Matt Staub from Poach Pickleball tackling the very important third shot. Brian and Matt are top 5.0 players and teachers who also happen to be father and son! A lot of people talk about the first three shots of a game, but today we are going to talk about why the third shot is so critical. In fact, the ability to execute this shot is one of the things that separates beginners from more advanced players. Once you read through the article, make sure you watch the full-length video on Pickleball Channel that really gives you the visual tools you need to understand and implement the concepts of the third shot.

Brian: Today we’re going to talk about the importance of the third shot and what it will do for your game. 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 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. The third shot gives the team the opportunity to take some pace off the ball, dropping it into the kitchen. This allows them to neutralize their opponent’s advantage so they can transition and play the game at the net.

First, we should start with your grip on the paddle. At Poach Pickleball, we teach the continental grip, which is a grip where the V of your hand goes to the left side of the racket handle and creates an open racket face whether you’re hitting on the forehand side or the backhand side. This allows you to lift the ball to take pace off of it. A common misconception is that people try to hit the third ball too hard, which can make it too low going over the net, creating errors. You want to hit a ball that’s a little bit higher.

The stroke itself is not a long stroke, and what you want to do is lift the ball. The goal is to have the ball reach an apex on your side of the net and then descend into the kitchen, making your opponent hit the ball up.

It’s very important to note that just because you hit a good third ball doesn’t mean that you’re necessarily going to be able to make it to the kitchen line right away. You might have to hit additional drop shots, and each time it’s important to do a split step. This will allow you to have some lateral mobility.

Those are the mechanics of the third ball. Remember, the shot’s not that easy, so go ahead and take some time to practice the third shot and you’ll become a better player.

Rusty: So, that’s our Pickleball 411 for today. Brian and Matt, thank you so much. We really hope that this has been helpful for you. And now there’s only one thing left to do, and that’s go play!

Special Thanks to: Brian Staub and Matt Staub

Rusty Howes is the Executive Producer and creator of Pickleball Channel. Rusty worked for the likes of Warner Bros and Disney before creating Pickleball Channel to develop and provide fantastic, professional video content for the pickleball community. He is deeply involved in promoting the sport of pickleball at home and across the country.

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