pickleball drop shot

Pickleball Drop Shot: Techniques and Strategies for Success

The drop shot is one of the most effective shots in pickleball, and it’s a great way to surprise your opponent. With the right technique, you can use this move to gain an advantage over your opponent and score points quickly. 

In this blog post we will be discussing the fundamentals of the drop shot in pickleball; including tips on how to execute it properly as well as when and where you should use it. We will also discuss strategies for using the drop shot successfully against different types of opponents. By mastering these skills, you’ll be able to take your game to the next level!

Different types of drop shots and their applications

In pickleball, there are different types of drop shots that players can utilize to vary their game and keep opponents off-balance. Each type of drop shot has its unique characteristics and applications. Here are some common types of drop shots and their applications:

Standard Drop Shot

The standard drop shot is a soft shot that clears the net by a small margin and lands close to the net on the opponent’s side. Use this shot when your opponents are positioned further back on the court. It can be an effective way to draw them forward, forcing them to scramble to reach the ball and potentially create an opportunity for a weak return.

Soft Spin Drop Shot

The soft spin drop shot is similar to the standard drop shot, but it incorporates backspin. The backspin causes the ball to bounce softly and stay low after landing. Use the soft spin drop shot when you want to slow down the pace of the game and make it difficult for your opponent to handle the ball. The backspin can cause the ball to die quickly after the bounce, making it challenging to return with power.

Angle Drop Shot

The angle drop shot involves placing the ball close to the net but directing it towards the sideline of the opponent’s court. Use the angle drop shot to exploit open spaces on the court or catch your opponents off-guard by changing the direction of the ball. This shot can create a wide opening for the next shot or force opponents to cover more ground.

Cross-Court Drop Shot

The cross-court drop shot is similar to the angle drop shot, but it targets the diagonal side of the opponent’s court. Use the cross-court drop shot to challenge your opponent’s lateral movement and create opportunities to attack the opposite side of the court. It can also be effective when your opponent is positioned more towards the center of the court.

Dink Drop Shot

The dink drop shot is executed from a closer distance to the net and involves delicately placing the ball just over the net. Use the dink drop shot during soft exchanges at the net (dink rallies). It can be used to set up a drop shot battle or to surprise your opponent with a subtle change of pace.

When employing drop shots, it’s crucial to read your opponent’s positioning and anticipate their reaction. Vary the type and placement of drop shots to keep opponents guessing and to control the pace and flow of the game effectively. Practice these shots regularly to refine your skills and use them strategically in different game situations.

Mastering the Drop Shot Technique

Executing the pickleball drop shot requires finesse and precision. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to execute the drop shot effectively:

Ready Position

Start in the ready position with your feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, and weight balanced on the balls of your feet. Hold your paddle in front of your body, ready to execute the shot.


Use a soft grip on your paddle for better control and touch during the drop shot. A continental grip or an Eastern backhand grip is commonly used for drop shots.

Choose the Right Ball

Look for a ball that is relatively high and bouncing in a favorable position for a drop shot. The ball should be high enough to comfortably clear the net with enough margin.

Delicate Contact

As the ball approaches, take a smooth and gentle swing, making delicate contact with the ball. The goal is to impart minimal force and backspin on the ball to control its trajectory and landing.

Lift the Ball

Brush the ball lightly and lift it just over the net. Focus on using your wrist to generate backspin and soft touch. The ball should clear the net by a small margin to ensure it drops quickly.

Short Follow-Through

After making contact, keep your follow-through short and controlled. This prevents the ball from sailing too far and ensures it drops close to the net on the opponent’s side.

Aim and Placement

Aim to drop the ball close to the non-volley zone (kitchen) line or just beyond it. Placing the ball in this area can make it more challenging for your opponent to reach and return effectively.

Watch Your Opponent

Keep an eye on your opponent’s positioning and movement. The element of surprise can be crucial for the success of the drop shot. If your opponent is positioned farther back, the drop shot can be more effective.

Be Prepared for the Return

After executing the drop shot, be ready to react to your opponent’s response. Anticipate where the return may land and prepare yourself to transition into the next shot.


The drop shot requires touch and control, which comes with practice. Incorporate drop shot drills into your training sessions to refine your technique and develop a feel for the shot.

Remember, the drop shot is not about power but finesse. It’s about changing the pace and keeping your opponent guessing. As you practice and gain experience, you’ll become more proficient in executing effective drop shots during pickleball matches.

When to Use the Pickleball Drop Shot

The drop shot is a fundamental shot in pickleball that serves a strategic purpose in the game. Its primary objective is to softly and delicately place the ball just over the net, causing it to drop quickly and land close to the net on the opponent’s side. The purpose of the drop shot is to catch opponents off guard and force them to move forward quickly to retrieve the ball, putting them in a disadvantageous position. When executed effectively, the drop shot can be a game-changer, disrupting the rhythm of the opponent and creating opportunities for offensive play.

The drop shot is typically used in the following situations:

Against Aggressive Opponents

When facing opponents who are consistently positioned near the backcourt, the drop shot can be an effective strategy to draw them forward and exploit the open spaces behind them.

Near the Non-Volley Zone

The drop shot is commonly used when players are close to the non-volley zone (kitchen line). Dropping the ball just over the net can force opponents to attempt a challenging volley or dink, increasing the chance of a weak return.

To Vary Your Game

Incorporating drop shots into your gameplay adds variety to your shots, making it harder for opponents to predict your next move. Mixing up drop shots with power shots keeps opponents guessing and puts them on the defensive.

To Set Up Other Shots

The drop shot can be used as a setup shot, leading opponents to move closer to the net, and then following it up with a lob or passing shot to capitalize on their position.

To Slow Down the Game

If you want to control the pace of the game or catch your breath after a series of fast rallies, the drop shot can be employed to slow down the tempo and regain composure.

It’s important to use the drop shot strategically and selectively in a game. Overusing the drop shot or executing it poorly can lead to errors and provide opponents with easy opportunities to attack. Timing and placement are critical when employing the drop shot, so practice and refine this shot to make it an effective weapon in your pickleball arsenal.

Drop Shot as a Setup Shot

Using the pickleball drop shot as a setup shot can be a strategic way to set up your opponent for a subsequent shot or create an opportunity for offensive play. Here’s how to use the drop shot as a setup shot:

Observe Your Opponent

Before attempting the drop shot as a setup, observe your opponent’s court positioning and movement. Look for moments when they are positioned deeper on the court, expecting a deep shot from you.

Vary Your Shots

During the rally, mix up your shots by hitting deeper shots and varying the pace and trajectory. This will create uncertainty in your opponent’s mind about the type of shot you are going to hit next.

Set Up the Drop Shot

As the rally progresses and your opponent moves farther back, set up the drop shot by positioning yourself comfortably close to the non-volley zone line (kitchen). The drop shot is most effective when hit from a position closer to the net.

Feint a Deep Shot

To execute the setup, pretend you’re going to hit a deep shot. Use a similar body posture and swing motion as you would for a deeper shot to mislead your opponent.

Soft Touch and Drop

At the last moment, adjust your swing and impart a soft touch to the ball, executing a drop shot. The goal is to land the ball just over the net and close to the non-volley zone line, forcing your opponent to move forward quickly.

Read Your Opponent’s Response

Watch how your opponent reacts to your drop shot. If they move forward and attempt to retrieve the ball near the net, you’ve successfully set up the shot.

Follow Up with a Passing Shot or Lob

After hitting the drop shot, anticipate your opponent’s response. If they hit a weak return or struggle to reach the ball, follow up with a passing shot to the open area of the court or a well-timed lob to catch them out of position.

Stay Alert

Be prepared for any counter-shots from your opponent. If they return your drop shot effectively, quickly recover to your position near the non-volley zone line to maintain good court coverage.

Using the drop shot as a setup shot requires precision, deception, and excellent court awareness. Mastering this technique can give you a significant advantage in controlling the rhythm of the game and creating scoring opportunities during pickleball matches. Practice and experience will help you perfect the art of using the drop shot as a setup shot effectively.


The pickleball drop shot is an effective way to surprise your opponent and gain a strategic advantage on the court. By mastering key techniques such as body positioning, timing, angle of contact with the ball, and spin control you can become a master at executing this tricky move. With practice and dedication, you’ll be able to pull off some impressive pickleball drop shots that will give your opponents fits. Start implementing these tips today so that you can start winning more matches tomorrow!

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