How to Hit a Third Shot Drop Like a Professional Pickleball Player (Ultimate Topspin Tutorial)

Written by Adam (HV)

February 10, 2023

third shot drop, professional pickleball player

The third shot drop in pickleball is one of the most important shots to master. But what if you could add an extra element to your third shot drops to make them just a little bit better? Today we’re going to look at one thing you can do to improve your third shot drops and improve your overall offense.

Watch the full video here.

What Is a Topspin Third Shot Drop in Pickleball?

Topspin is when the ball rotates forward as it’s moving through the air. As it spins, air friction causes the ball to dip.

If you watch any professional match, you will likely notice that pros will add topspin to their drops. This gives them a better chance of neutralizing their opponents faster. In fact, topspin third shot drops have a few unique benefits:

  • They’re harder to read than a flat shot – depending on how much the ball is spinning
  • Topspin can be harder to defend compared to a flat shot
  • And topspin shots will bounce differently than flat shots, so they’re less likely to be attackable off the bounce.

This shot can be difficult, but we’ll walk through it step by step so that by the end you will know exactly how to do it.

What to Consider While Using the Topspin Third Shot Drop in Pickleball

  1. Great positioning is key – because you’re doing more with this shot, you must have good positioning behind the ball to pull off effective spin – otherwise, you risk a miss-hit or a pop up.
  2. Because this shot dips you will have slightly less time to get to the nvz compared to a traditional, high-arcing third shot drop that bounces in the kitchen. So, be sure you’re prepared to move to the nonvolley zone
  3. Number 3 – I’m using a continental grip in this video but different grips can help add spin to the ball. For the purposes of this video, we’ll cover the mechanics and you can experiment with grips after you get comfortable with adding spin to the ball on your third shot drop.

How to Hit a Topspin Third Shot Drop: Step 1 – Your Position

Great positioning is key for the topspin third shot drop.

  • Make sure the ball is out front and in your goldilocks zone – not too close and not too far away
  • Next, you can place your non-dominant foot in front of your dominant foot for stability
  • Your weight will be balanced and slightly forward
  • Be sure to bend your knees to get under the ball – this will help you swing

How to Hit a Topspin Third Shot Drop: Step 2 – Your Swing

Your swing for the topspin third shot drop is from low to high and the key here is to brush up on the bottom of the ball

  • To do this, you will place your paddle below the ball and below your wrist 
  • When you accelerate through the ball, you will brush up on the ball on the bottom of the ball
  • As you swing, you can turn your shoulder to generate more power and spin, and you can also add some 
  • After hitting the ball, swing through the ball and finish on the other side of your body, but be careful not to exaggerate too much because the ball will likely come back and you want to be ready for your opponent’s shot

How to Hit a Topspin Third Shot Drop: Step 3 – Advancing to the Non-volley Zone

Lastly, you want to be advancing to the nvz after you hit your third shot drop. If you’ve successfully added topspin, it will dip faster than a flat shot, so be sure to be watching your shot, how your opponent handles it and prepare to either attack, defend, or reset. 

This is important because your opponent should already be under pressure to read, react, and respond to your shot. But when they see you approaching to the NVZ, this doubles the pressure and can cause your opponent to make an error.

    Recap: How to Hit a Topspin Third Shot Drop

    The topspin third shot drop is not that much different than a normal third shot drop. Just to recap, be sure to focus on these elements as you try it out on the court:

      • Great positioning
      • Getting below the ball
      • Bending your knees
      • Adding extra brush up on the ball

    What Do You Think of the Topspin Third Shot Drop? 

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

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