There are three types of Pickleball drop shots that you can learn to improve your third-shot and reset game.
1. Flat Drop Shot
A flat drop shot is the easiest drop shot to execute because it requires the least motion of your paddle, thus creating less room for error.
To hit a flat drop shot, you should:
- Set your front foot first
- Bend your knees so that you can push up with your legs creating a higher arc of your shot
- Transfer your weight from your back foot to your front foot by pushing up and forward with your legs and hips
- Use a 1-3 out of 10 (light) grip pressure to get a soft touch on the ball
- Fully extend your arm as you strike the ball
- Keep your swing path in a slightly up and forward motion with no sideways motion or rotation so that you do not add spin to the ball
- Contact the ball with an open paddle face (with your paddle face pointing up to the sky but still slightly forward)
- Strike the ball out in front of your body
- Aim for the ball to land in the opponent’s non-volley zone
- Hit the ball with a good amount of arc on it so that it reaches its apex in the air on your side of the net and begins dropping before crossing the net
2. Slice Drop Shot (Backspin)
A slice drop shot will have lots of backspin on it, forcing you to hit the ball with much less arc than a flat drop shot. The backspin will often cause the ball to skip once it hits the ground, often creating a more difficult shot for your opponents to return because it will not bounce as high as a flat drop shot in most cases.
To hit a slice drop shot, follow all the same steps for a flat drop shot, with these modifications:
- Use your triceps to push quickly as if you were chopping wood right before contacting the ball
- Change your swing path so that it is slightly more forward and less up compared to a flat drop shot
3. Topspin Drop Shot
The topspin drop shot is the rarest type of drop shot because it requires the most amount of paddle movement and thus has the highest risk of error
To hit a topspin drop shot, follow all the same steps for a flat drop shot, with these modifications:
- Make your swing path mostly upward with little to no forward movement of your paddle
- Bend your knees even more and use your legs to create a very strong upward thrusting movement
- Use your biceps to curl your arm upward forcefully and quickly as you lift with your legs to create a quick vertical swing of your paddle
- Use a closed or nearly closed paddle face (with your paddle face pointing directly towards the net or slightly above the net)
- Your follow-through on your swing should end around the height of your shoulder or head
Because the topspin drop shot is much harder to execute, you should only attempt it in situations where you are able to firmly set both feet. It’s not an ideal drop shot to hit on the run unless you have practiced it extensively.
Tom Corson-Knowles is the founder of Pickleball Oasis and plays Pickleball around the 4.5 level. He loves Pickleball and plays several days a week. He also takes regular lessons from one of the top Pickleball players and coaches in the world. He’s also a bestselling author and founder of TCK Publishing, a book publishing company.