A drop shot in pickleball is hit from the baseline into the opponent's non-volley zone. Drop shots give you time to get to the non-volley line, and it also puts your opponents on the defensive instead of allowing them to hit an aggressive shot.
What Is A Drop Shot in Pickleball?
The drop shot is what sets advanced players apart from beginners. It’s arguably the most difficult to execute, but is one of the most crucial shots all players should perfect.
Drop shots in pickleball are usually executed from the baseline and land softly in your opponent’s non-volley zone.
When Should You Use A Drop Shot?
Whenever you and your partner are not at the non-volley line and your opponents are, a drop shot is a great strategic option.
Here’s how most pickleball rallies begin:
- The serving team serves the ball
- The returning team returns the ball and quickly positions themselves at the non-volley zone line
- The serving team remains toward the back of the court in order to allow the ball to bounce
In this common scenario, the returning team is already at the advantageous non-volley zone line. The serving team is still at the baseline.
That’s where the drop shot comes in.
By hitting a drop shot from the baseline into the opponent’s non-volley zone, the serving team buys themselves time to get to the kitchen line. Drop shots also help ensure that the opposing team’s follow-up shot won’t be too aggressive.
The drop shot is usually used on the third shot, but can be used any time you need to slow the pace of play and get from deep in the court to the kitchen line.
How Do I Hit A Drop Shot?
Here’s how to hit a drop shot:
- Stay low to the ball and bend your knees
- Put your weight on your front foot
- Position the open face of the paddle in front of your body
- Use a low-to-high “lifting” motion
- Follow through (a little more than a dink)
The continental grip is typically the most advantageous grip for drop shots because the paddle face stays open.
Drop Shots vs Dinks
Drop shots and dinks are similar. Both shots are hit into your opponent’s non-volley zone.
The main difference between drop shots and dinks is your position when you hit the ball.
- A dink is hit from your non-volley line into your opponent’s non-volley zone.
- A drop shot is hit from your baseline into your opponent’s non-volley zone.
Drop shots also require slightly longer follow-through thank dinks because of the greater distance the shot needs to cover.
A Few Drills to Improve Your Drop Shot
Here are a few pickleball drills for beginner, intermediate, and advanced players.
Beginner Drop Shot Drill
Begin by having a practice partner stand at their non-volley line and feed you balls while you are across the net at your own non-volley line. This allows you to get a feel for the shot from this position on the court.
Once you have successfully practiced these easier shots, gradually move further back until you are standing near the baseline.
Feeders should vary the depth of each shot. Some should send you further behind the baseline, while others should bring you up into the transition area (no man’s land).
Intermediate Drop Shot Drill
In this version of the drill, both players begin at the non-volley zone line and hit drop shots into the other player’s non-volley zone.
- The player doing the drill starts to move back a few steps each time they hit a drop shot. This gives them a chance to hit drop shots from different distances.
- As soon as they reach the baseline, they should work their way back to the non-volley zone.
- In the event of a fault, they should go back to the non-volley zone and start over.
Advanced Drop Shot Drill
You only need to use half of the court for this drill.
- One player starts at the non-volley zone and the other starts at the baseline.
- The player at the NVZ hits to the player at the baseline.
- The player at the baseline tries to hit as many drop shots as possible without hitting the ball out of bounds or into the net.
- One point is awarded for every drop shot they make.
- The player at the baseline switches positions with the person at the NVZ when the ball goes out of bounds or into the net.
- A score of 60 points determines the winner.
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