What Is A Drop Shot In Pickleball

Pickleball is all about mastering different shots so you can execute them according to the relevant situations. One such hit that can help you prevent an offensive return from your opponent is drop. With this soft shot, you force the player on the other side to gently lift the ball over the net. So they don’t get to plan an aggressive attack. That said, let's dig deeper into what is a drop shot in pickleball rules and some other details that are worth knowing.

What Is A Drop Shot In Pickleball Called?

A soft shot that is played in pickleball is referred to as a drop. However, many beginner players also use pickleball drop-shot names when referring to this hit. Drop is a type of soft shot in pickleball that is hit with a goal to reach close to the non-volley zone on your opponent’s side, particularly close to the net. It is played from deep in the court off the bounce.

Being a beginner, you might face issues in mastering a drop shot as it requires higher levels of preciseness for perfect execution. However, once you have a solid grip on this hitting technique, the third shot drop equips you with the ability to follow a smooth hit into the net. This approach is quite beneficial in putting pressure on your opponent players because they are forced to hit the ball from a low position. As a result, their return shot wouldn’t be as powerful.

Dropshot 1

When you play this shot, you get three chances to get the ball over the net into the opponent’s side. These are referred to as:

  • First Shot - Serve
  • Second Shot - Return of serve from opponent
  • Third Shot - Drop

It’s the third shot that makes a huge difference as you use it after your opponent returns the serve. All you need to do is hit the ball softly, allowing it to drop over the net on the other player’s courtside. Remember that it’s not possible always to get a perfect third-shot drop. Thus, you may need to use it as your fifth or seventh shot in the rally to get control over the game.

How To Hit A Perfect Drop Shot In Pickleball

While the drop is a winning shot in Pickleball, performing it can be a little tricky and requires lots of practice. Here are some tips that you can follow to let your team have a competitive advantage in this sport:

  • Make sure you stand in a way that your shoulders are slightly turned towards the sideways where you want to hit the ball. It could either be your forehand or backhand.
  • When it comes to paddle height, it should be positioned at your thighs, ready to hit the shot.
  • Always keep the paddle close to your body. You should never swing it too far backward, as it might reduce your chances of hitting a successful drop shot.
  • Try to hit the pickleball when it’s in your body’s front after it has bounced once and started to rise a bit.
  • You need to make sure the ball descends at a slight downward angle as it goes over the net.

Drills To Improve Your Drop Shot Skills

Let’s explore a few drills based on your expertise level that will help you enhance your drop shot hitting skills:

1- For Beginners

You can ask for help from a fellow pickleball player to stand on the other side of the net in NVZ and toss balls towards you. Make sure that you also stand near the kitchen line when just starting out. After a few practice sessions, you can slowly step back and get closer to the baseline. Make sure your practicing partner hits shots with a variety of depths. For instance, some should be deeper, so you have to move backward. While others must be shorter, forcing you to enter the transition area to hit the ball.

2- For Intermediate

If you have enough experience of playing pickleball, you can follow this drill. Start off with both players standing at the NVZ line and taking turns to hit drop shots into each other’s kitchen zone. Just step back after each shot so you can get enough experience of hitting drops from different distances. Once you reach the baseline, come back to the NVZ and repeat the process.

3- For Experts

This drill for experts requires you to use only half the side of the court. One player would stand at NVZ while the other would start at the baseline. The non-volley zone player has to hit the ball towards the one at the baseline. Their goal is to return maximum droop shots while ensuring the ball does not go out of bounds. In case it does, the players can switch the positions and vice versa.

Dropshot 2

When To Use Drop Shot In Pickleball?

The use of drop shot in pickleball varies depending on whether you are playing doubles or singles. Here’s a brief guide to help you understand this better:

1- When Playing Doubles

When playing pickleball as a team, a drop shot is highly suitable when both you and your partner are not in the non-volley or kitchen zone. It’s also important to ensure that your opponents have positioned themselves at the NVZ line before executing this shot. This situation is likely to happen when the team in your competition returns your serve, i.e., the second shot. Since your opponents are closer to the net in this scenario, they are forced to hit from a lower position, preventing them from playing an attacking shot.

2- When Playing In Singles

3rd shot pickleball, when playing in singles, is a suitable shot if you want to adopt an aggressive style. Moreover, it also allows you to add topspin to your hits and go for sharper angles to confuse the opponent. The strategy to execute is similar to that in doubles. Just make sure to play a drop shot when you are away from the non-volley zone while your opponent is standing somewhere on its line.

Dropshot 4

Read More: Forehand Vs. Backhand In Pickleball

What Is A Drop Shot In Pickleball Used For?

If you are wondering what is a drop shot in pickleball used for, here are two main reasons:

1- The Player Can Move To NVZ

When your opponent hits a powerful shot to the back of your court, you can counter it with a drop shot. Since the ball would land near the net, it would slow down the play. As a result, you will have more time to move towards the kitchen line and pave your way to winning the game. It’s obvious that the non-volley zone offers various chances of scoring more points; your aim should be to reach there as early as possible.

2- Compels The Opponent To Hit The Ball Upwards

If you manage to hit a well-executed drop shot, it’s likely to enter your opponent’s NVZ while bouncing lower than the net’s height. This forces them to hit the ball up so it clears the net. Their position weakens in such a scenario as they can’t make a strong offensive hit. You can then have the opportunity to attack their return shot. This can be done either by volleying or positioning yourself for a more offensive hit.

Frequently Asked Questions

How To Play A Drop Shot?

To hit a drop shot, you need to use a soft and controlled underhand motion to gently tap the ball with the paddle so it reaches over the net. Your aim must be to land the shot in NVZ of your opponent via a low trajectory when hitting this shot.

How Do I Return A Drop Shot In Pickleball?

When you sense a drop shot coming your way, move instantly to the NVZ and get closer to the net. Next, gently lift the ball over the net with an upward motion. Do not hit too hard, as it will break the momentum. Your goal should be to send the ball in your opponent’s kitchen region without a bounce. This approach helps in regaining control and executing your next shots better.

What Is The Purpose Of The Drop Shot In A Game?

The main purpose of a drop shot is to hit the ball softly so it lands over the net. It basically prevents the opponent players from hitting a powerful or offensive shot.


So that was all about what is a soft drop shot in pickleball called. Being a winning shot, it can help you avoid offensive hits from your opponents. However, it’s not as simple to get a master in executing this shot. You need to follow a few right techniques and tricks to do so, as outlined in the article. So, what’s your level of expertise when it comes to hitting drop shots in pickleball? Do share with us in the comments below!

Sophia William

An accomplished author with an impressive history of 6 years of contributions to renowned informational websites.

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