If you’re completely new to pickleball, you’ve come to the right place. Here at The Volley, we talk about all things pickleball. Before learning how to do the drop shot, you might want to check out our beginner’s guide to learn how to play pickleball first.
Pickleball is a paddle sport that has been increasing in popularity every year. It’s played on a badminton-sized court but with a net similar to tennis. The game can be played as singles or doubles. It is super easy to learn, making it perfect for all ages.
In this blog post, we will tell you everything you need to know to dominate pickleball with the perfect drop shot strategy. We will also give you some tips on how to practice and perfect your drop shot to level up your game!
The Basics of the Drop Shot
A drop shot in pickleball is when the ball barely clears the net and then drops sharply into the opponent’s non-volley zone. It’s an effective way to win points because it forces your opponent to run to the kitchen, tiring them out, and giving you more time and space to set up your next shot.
NOTE: The kitchen or non-volley zone is an area of the court that is unique to pickleball. The USA Pickleball Official Rulebook has an entire section dedicated to rules about playing in this zone. See section 9.
Benefits of Mastering the Drop Shot Strategy
The benefits of mastering the drop shot strategy are numerous. A well-executed drop shot will land close to or just over the baseline, making it difficult for your opponent to reach. When done correctly, your opponent will be forced to run to the kitchen and leave their baseline wide open for lobs.
Other benefits include:
- It allows you to dictate the game’s momentum by controlling where your opponent has to go.
- It can cause your opponents to overthink your next shot.
- It tires out your opponents by keeping them on their toes so they can quickly run to the kitchen.
A well-executed drop shot can be very frustrating for your opponents, as they will have to run back and forth across the court trying to reach the ball. Making your opponent run around at a moment’s notice will force them into making mistakes or giving up altogether. Once you sense weakness, take advantage of it to land a shot!
How to Execute a Perfect Drop Shot
The key to executing a drop shot successfully is to get the right amount of spin on the ball. Too much spin and the ball will go long, too little spin and the ball will go into the net. You need to strike a balance between too much and too little. The ideal amount of spin will make the ball fall just before the service line on the other side of the court.
There are several factors that you need to consider when executing a perfect drop shot, including power, spin, placement, and the angle you hit the ball. Let’s break each one of these down so that you can master the perfect drop shot in any situation:
The power behind your shot will determine how high or low your ball will go over the net. You want to make sure that you hit the ball with just enough power so that it barely clears the net and then has a steep trajectory downwards.
Too much power behind your shot will result in clearing the kitchen. When this happens, it is no longer a drop shot, and will be easy for your opponent to return. On the other hand, too little power and your shot won’t clear the net at all.
Add Spin to Your Drop Shot
Applying spin to your ball can help deceive your opponent and throw them off their game. When hitting a drop shot, aim for topspin or backspin so that your ball dips quickly after clearing the net. If hit correctly with a strong topspin, the ball will look fast to the opponent but then dip down quickly.
To generate spin on the ball, you need to hit it off-center with your paddle. The further from the center you hit, the more spin you will generate.
A good drop shot should also have topspin so that it doesn’t bounce too high when it hits the ground. This makes it harder for your opponent to lob over your head and gives you more time to get back into position. You generate topspin by hitting up on the ball with your paddle as you make contact.
There’s a whole world of difference between just tapping the ball slowly versus spinning the ball to make it drop faster. It takes some practice to get the hang of it, but once you do, you can place your shots exactly where you want them.
Placement is key when hitting a drop shot because you want to make sure that your ball lands inside of your opponent’s service box. This way, they will have to run farther to reach your ball, giving you more time to set up your next shot.
A key improvement for a regular drop shot is aiming the ball to the side where your opponent is farthest. If he’s at the center of his court, aim for the side that he’s bad at receiving with.
Angle Your Pickleball Shots
Hitting your ball at an angle will make it more difficult for your opponent to predict where it will land. When combined with spin and placement, hitting at an angle can be very effective in winning points.
Really good opponents can guess where the ball lands just from how you grip and angle your paddle.
As with anything in life, practice makes perfect! The drop shot requires a delicate touch, so it’s important to practice your technique until you can consistently hit the ball with the right amount of spin and power.
Experiment with different powers, spins, placements, and angles until you find what works best for you. Then keep practicing until you’ve perfected your technique!
Read up on guides or pro tips to help you improve in the game. Don’t feel bad or discouraged if you don’t get everything right away. With a little time and effort, you’ll be hitting drop shots like a pro in no time. Get out on the court and start hitting some balls!
The Secret Sauce: Feinting
Finally, here’s the secret sauce that makes drop shots very effective: feinting.
Drop shots can be easily countered when the opponent knows what you’re doing. All they need to do is run preemptively and throw you a lob because your baseline is wide open. What pros do, especially from professional tennis, is do a feint. They act like they’re about to hit the ball hard, but then just lightly tap and drop the ball at the moment of contact.
This will take some level of acting and practice, but you’ll win both the pickleball point and the mental warfare by tricking your opponent with your body language!
Tips to Land the Perfect Drop Shot
Here are some additional tips that you can follow to improve your drop shot strategy:
- Use a lighter paddle. A lighter paddle will give you more control over the ball, which is just what you need to hit a good drop shot.
- Hit the ball with underspin. Underspin will cause the ball to drop quickly, making it more difficult for your opponent to return. Not hitting with the ball enough underspin will cause the ball to float, making it easier for your opponent to return.
- Hit the ball close to the net. The closer the ball is to the net, the more difficult it will be for your opponent to return.
- Follow through with your shot. A good follow-through will help you generate more power and control on your shot.
- Avoid hitting the ball too short. This will give your opponent an easy return because it allows them to approach the net and take control of the point.
- Choose the right moment. Don’t just hit a drop shot every time you have the chance. Wait for your opponent to step out of position or when they’re not expecting it. It’s a high-risk, high-reward shot, so be patient and wait for the right opportunity.
- Vary your placement. Don’t hit the drop shot to the same spot every single time. This will make you predictable. Instead, keep your opponent guessing!
Drop shots are an essential part of pickleball that can help you take control of any game. By following our tips on how to execute the perfect drop shot, you’ll be well on your way to dominating pickleball!
Practice regularly until you’ve mastered different powers, spins, placements, and angles.