Selkirk Sport - We Are Pickleball


Advanced techniques for the pickleball third shot drop

By Morgan Evans

on Jul 02, 2024


Pickleball coach Morgan Evans shows the proper stance for advanced third shot drops, with his hips parallel to the sideline and his paddle raised to chest height.

Ask 100 pickleball players of all skill levels what shot they’d like to improve and a majority of them will tell you their third shot drop. 

This is because the third shot is crucial in setting players up for winning points. No matter the skill level, players are always looking to improve their drops. 

While there are several tutorials for beginners looking to improve their drops, advanced players can benefit from higher-level tips. 

In this Selkirk TV original, pickleball coach Morgan Evans shares advanced pickleball third shot drop techniques. 

The best third shot drop techniques

The players who most often have high-quality third shot drops are singles players. This is because high-precision shots requires excellent footwork, a prerequisite for success in singles. 

This doesn’t mean you have to take up the singles game to improve your third shot drops — you just need to learn a few techniques from singles players. 

Power starts from the ground

As with most sports, pickleball requires a strong, athletic posture to excel. Think of a professional basketball player: Their arms guide the shot, but the power to propel the ball comes from their legs. 

If a basketball player shoots from the three-point line, they will push harder through their legs than they would from the free-throw line. However, the motion remains the same. 

This process is known as the kinetic chain or coordination chain. When done in sequence, it can create great power or great control, depending on the force you exert. 

The same principle applies to pickleball. 

Whether you are executing a groundstroke or a third shot drop, you should prepare and load your body in the same way. 

You should step toward the ball, lowering your body toward the ground. Then, you will apply force to the ground to drive your legs, rotate your hips and shoulders, and make contact with the ball. 

The kinetic chain should be used in all shots, you will just adjust how hard you push toward the ground. You will push the hardest for a groundstroke and push lightly for a third shot drop. 

Perfecting your third shot drop motion

If you’ve primarily been using your arm to execute the third shot drop, you will need to get a good feel for how your body can complete the kinetic chain in sequence. It should look like this: 

  • Step 1: Find the ball. Your first task is to track the ball. Odds are, you’re already pretty good at this. It is how you keep the point going after all. Move your feet to the contact point. 
  • Step 2: Get low. Next, you need to arrive at the ball at a low contact point. Once you arrive at the approximate contact point, drop your body height down toward the ground. This allows you get your paddle underneath the ball. 
  • Step 3: Raise your paddle. Your swing should start at the waist or chest height, depending on the height of the shot you are receiving. 
  • Step 4: Coil your body. It’s time to load your body to create power and spin. Rotate your hips to wind your body toward the sideline. Allow your shoulders to rotate with your hips. Be careful not to let your arms disconnect from your shoulder line. Doing so creates loose errors. 
  • Step 4: Uncoil to meet the ball. Drive up from your legs in a controlled fashion. As your legs push up, allow your hips to uncoil so that they are facing the net. 
  • Step 5: Drop your shoulder. Your shoulders should naturally follow your hips, giving you the chance to extend your arm to make contact with the ball. Drop your dominant shoulder toward the ground to allow you to get underneath the ball. 
  • Step 6: Swing through the ball. Extend your elbow to straighten your arm, dropping your paddle to its lowest point before driving up through the ball. From the side, your swing path should look like a horizontal question mark. 

  • Common mistakes when hitting third shot drops

    Players who are attempting to improve their third shot drops often make a few common mistakes. As you work to improve your third shot drops, avoid the following: 

  • Big backswings. Keep your swing path compact. Big backswings cause you to decelerate the paddle before making contact with the ball. You want to disguise your third shot drop so keeping the motion the same as the motion used for your groundstrokes will help keep your form intact and your opponents on their toes. 
  • Not using the continental grip. This shot is most easily executed with the continental grip. Make sure you are using the proper grip to avoid errors. 

  • Download the Selkirk TV app HERE to watch the complete episode and many other Selkirk TV original shows, podcasts, lesson series from the pros, and much more. 

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