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Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Third Shot Tutorial

Getting the fundamentals right...

The Jordan Briones Primetime series continues today and features Dave Weinbach in 3rd Shot Success with Dave Weinbach | Pickleball. The topic is the third shot drop and the keys to a successful shot. I often say that the third shot drop is the hardest shot in pickleball. I'm glad to hear that Dave's thoughts align with mine. But he also says that it is the most important shot in the entire game. So let's see his suggestions to make ours better.

Dave has 3 keys to a successful shot. We will go through them one at a time.

1. Light grip pressure

The drop shot is part of the soft game. A soft shot requires a light grip to take energy off the ball. Dave recommends a grip pressure of 3-4 on a scale of 1-10. A tighter grip will be noticeable as the ball will rocket off the paddle face.

2. Low to high motion

A drop shot requires the ball to drop. Pretty obvious, huh? But too many players try to hit a level shot just right so that it drops just after it crosses the net. Dave emphasizes the low to high motion that allows the drop to start earlier and provides more room for error.

3. Momentum should be forward

The goal of the third shot drop is to allow you and your partner to get to the NVZ line. The key to move to the line is to begin moving in that direction immediately. Therefore, your momentum must be forward as you hit the shot. The alternative is to back up or fall away from the shot. This causes a loss of power and consistency as well as makes the distance to the NVZ greater.

Bonus point - Where to miss

If you are going to miss the third shot drop, where should you miss? Dave says it should long or high. Obviously, hitting into the net ends the rally immediately. A long or high miss might create an attackable ball but at least you have a fighting chance to make a 5th shot drop...or a 7th shot drop. That means you stay back instead of moving toward the NVZ line.


  1. While next to the serve the 3rd shot is the next most important shot of the game for the serving team. Your choices are to drive the ball, soft drop the ball into the kitchen, or to lob the ball. The most important part is to get the ball over the net. The skills assessment sheet does not mention the soft 3rd shot till a 2.5 rating so till then it is just get it over and in. Against people who pop up fast drive returns; drive the ball fast and let your partner put away the popup. Against those who can handle the heat use the 3rd shot drop. And against those who serve short and blindly rush the net you may want to throw a lob in there just to keep them honest. Above all use whatever shots you have to get the ball over the net and have fun.
    Dale Voigt

  2. What is the best way to return a ball that has a lot of back spin. I play with group of people that return the serve with a ton of back spin, and I find it hard to return it on the third drop shot. It goes into the net or I pop it up to high and get it slammed back in my face.