What is the best Third shot? Whether you’re a pickleball veteran or just picked up your first paddle you’ve probably heard that the 3rd Shot Drop is the Holy Grail of pickleball. While it is a crucial skill to master if you want to start racking up points on the scoreboard, there’s a new kid on the block who is looking for a place in your bag of tricks, and his name is the 3rd Shot Drive.

Before you start gathering the pitchforks and lighting the torches, take a moment and listen to top mixed partners Matt Wright and Lucy Kovalova. They’ve slotted the 3rd Shot Drive into their arsenal and have the gold medals to prove it works.

First off, what is a 3rd Shot Drive? As opposed to the 3rd Shot Drop, the Drive is a driving shot that gives the opponent a much harder hit 4th shot that does not drop in the kitchen. The goal is to then receive a more favorable 5th ball that allows you to approach the kitchen safely.

The Third Shot Drive does not replace your Third Shot Drop, rather it is a different tool for use in different situations. Here are times you might want to bust out your Third Shot Drive.

1. Off a Deep Return

If an opponent gives you a deep return of your serve and forces you to hit your 3rd shot from near or behind the baseline, then a drop may not be the best option. The further you are from the net, the more difficult a 3rd Shot Drop becomes and increases the odds you will either hit the net or pop the ball high enough up for your opponents to hit a winner. Even if you do manage to hit a good drop, you might not have the time to make it to the kitchen.

2. Off a Spinning Return

If your opponent hits you a return with heavy spin, this may be a perfect time to put skip your Third Shot Drop. The more spin, the more difficult a Third Shot Drop becomes and increases the odds you will either hit the net or pop the ball up high enough for your opponents to smash a winner. Want to learn how to spot a spinning return, watch Matt Wright’s Quick Tip on just that.

If you find yourself struggling with these scenarios, give the 3rd Shot Drive a chance. The drive will force your opponent to react quicker on the 4th shot and hopefully give you a better 5th shot that allows you a safer approach to the net.

Want more tips on the 3rd Shot Drive? Watch the video and listen to the pros explain the ins and outs of the Third Shot Drive.

Special Thanks To:

Matt Wright

Lucy Kovalova

Tony Swantek

Patrick Smith

Wichita Country Club

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One Comment

  1. Mike Christensen

    Very helpful lesson on how the third shot drive, especially the controlled one, can be the best shot in certain situations.

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