6 Mistakes That Are KILLING Your Third Shot Drop in Pickleball

Written by Adam (HV)

December 6, 2022

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The third shot drop in pickleball is essential.

But what if your third shots are inconsistent? 

Today we’re going to cover some of the things that could be killing your third shots and what you can do to fix them. With this video, not only will you hit thirds more consistently, but get to the net and win more points. 

Watch the full video here.

Why the Third Shot Drop in Pickleball Is Essential

The third shot drop in pickleball is important because if hit correctly, it will neutralize your opponent (meaning, they won’t be able to attack your shot) and it will give you time to move from the baseline to the non volley zone. 

If you’re struggling with this shot, don’t worry. The third shot drop is essentially a long dink, so if you can dink, you can drop. If you would like a step-by-step tutorial on the third shot drop, check out the link in the description.

Third Shot Drop Mistake #1 – The Serve Creep

One common cause for inconsistent thirds is what I call serve creep. This happens when a player serves the ball and takes a few extra steps beyond the baseline. The problem comes when your opponent hits a serve return that is deep. All of sudden, you’re out of position and backpedaling. Not only is this bad for your positioning, but it could result in falls or injuries. Instead, serve the ball, and stay back. This can set you up for better positioning on your thirds and better habits down the road.

Third Shot Drop Mistake #2 – Leaning Back

Another common cause of inconsistent thirds is when a player hits the ball while leaning back. This can be directly related to serve creep, but it can also happen due to delayed footwork or a lack of anticipation of your opponent’s return.

Instead, you want your weight to be slightly forward. You’re not flat footed or leaning back, but you’re on the balls of your feet and anticipating the return.

Third Shot Drop Mistake #3 – Too Much Wrist or Arm

Another common cause for errors for thirds is when players use too much wrist or arm with their shots. 

Instead, you want to use your shoulder as the common driver and controller of motion. There may be some slight movement, but your arm and wrist are stable and your movement is smooth and compact. If you engage your wrist, you break the connection to your shoulder and open the door to more inconsistent shots. It only takes a small movement to pop up the ball with your wrist versus your shoulder.  

Third Shot Drop Mistake #4 – Rushing the Shot

During games, you may feel an urgency to get to the net after your third shot drop, but this only leads to rushing your shot and running through the ball while swinging.

Unless your game has a countdown clock, there is no need to rush. 

Instead, you want to slow down, keep the ball out front and stay controlled. If you hear your footsteps while you’re hitting the ball, that’s a sign you’re running through the ball and likely off balance while you’re swinging.

Third Shot Drop Mistake #5 – Timing

Another common cause for inconsistent thirds is when players either hit the ball too close to their body or too far.

If you want optimum control on your thirds, you must hit the ball in your optimal contact zone. Similar to a strike zone in baseball, every persons contact zone will be unique, but an easy way to identify it is if it’s out front at a 45 degree angle and it’s comfortable. It may also be slightly different for your backhand.

Third Shot Drop Mistake #6 – Not Adjusting the Shot

In pickleball, almost every single third shot drop will be different because of different variables like pace, placement, distance, angle, spin, and more. Inconsistency comes when players want to treat every shot the same with the exact same mechanics. 

But in reality, you must make small adjustments based on variables. For example, if you are at the baseline hitting a third shot drop, you may need to bend your knees more, apply more lift with your swing, and apply a tighter grip pressure than you would at the net. 

Which Third Shot Drop Tip was Helpful for You? 

Let me know in the comments. Your feedback is helpful and can help shape content in the future.

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