The Technique for a Consistent Pickleball Drop Shot
Are you consistently hitting your drop shots into the net? Or perhaps they’re so high; your opponents are hitting them back fast and hard at your feet? Then it’s time to develop some touch on your pickleball drop shot.
There is no doubt that the pickleball drop shot is one of the most challenging shots in pickleball. It can drive even the top players crazy! This is the first in a four-part series to help you develop consistency and touch on your drop shots.
It’s hard to develop steadiness if you don’t have the proper shot technique, and that’s the focus of this post. Before we delve into the mechanics, let’s define a drop shot.
A good drop shot is a softly hit shot from the baseline, even though it may be attackable (above the net), you don’t hit it into the net and commit a fault.
A better drop shot is one that lands at or near the kitchen.
A great drop shot lands in the kitchen with the apex of the bounce below the net. When the ball bounces below the net, your opponents must hit up on the ball to get it over. It makes it much less likely that it is an attackable shot, and it allows you and your partner to move closer to the non-volley zone.
Now that we know what constitutes a pickleball drop shot, let’s focus on the mechanics required for successful execution.
To hit a great drop shot, we need to control the paddle face and the speed of the shot.
1. Open Paddle Face
An open paddle face helps to lift the ball up and over the net.
2. Paddle Angle
The angle of the paddle is to the side, not straight below your arm. When it’s straight below your wrist, it’s more challenging to control the trajectory.
3. Short Backswing
The longer the swing is, the more difficult it is to control the speed of the ball.
4. Contact in Front of the Body
It’s easier to manage the paddle face (trajectory) if you make contact with the ball in front of your body.
5. Pushing Sensation
A properly executed drop shot feels like we’re pushing the ball, not hitting, off the paddle.
6. Grip Pressure
It’s hard to hit a soft shot if you have a tight grip, but how do you define tight? Let’s use a scale of one to ten, one being the least amount of pressure and ten being the most. Hold your paddle so that if I pulled it, I could take it out of your hand. That’s a one on the scale of 1-10.
Now squeeze the grips as tightly as possible. That’s a ten on the scale of 1-10. You’ve now found your extremes, one and ten.
Readjust your hand on the paddle and apply a grip pressure right in the middle of the two extremes. That’s a five on the scale of 1-10.
To hit this shot, you want to have a grip pressure somewhere between three and five. The lighter pressure is going to help your control, consistency, and feel.
Good footwork is essential to good pickleball, and the drop shot isn’t an exception. Senior Pro Helle Sparre uses an analogy that I love. She suggests you picture a box at your feet, and you’re going to angle the paddle to the top corner of the box and push the ball off the paddle.
You don’t need a partner to practice this shot. Grab some balls and stand at the baseline. Drop the ball out in front of you and work your way through one fundamental at a time.
Once you think you’re executing these basics, ask a partner to some balls to you. Whenever we add movement to any shot, it becomes more difficult. Again, review each fundamental one at a time. If you aren’t sure how you’re doing, use your phone to shoot some video.
Once you’ve mastered the basics, you’ll be able to control the speed and the trajectory of the pickleball drop shot and be on your way to winning more points.
Do you practice hitting drop shots outside of playing? Put your answer in the comments below.
Make sure to come back next week when I start to share the first of my three favorite pickleball drop shot drills!
Hey there — I’m a professional three-sport athlete and coach who has spent my entire adult life earning a living from playing and coaching sports. Since I started coaching more than three decades ago, one thing has remained the same: My commitment to see students not as they are but as what they can become and to move heaven and earth to help them realize their untapped potential. You should know that when it comes to helping pickleball players over 50 live their best lives on and off the courts, I'm an expert. Good pickleball is not just technique; it's the mind and body working holistically. That's why I'm also a personal trainer and weight management specialist. When I’m chillin', you'll find me watching Star Trek with my husband John and our two fur babies, Shirley and Ralph. (Yes, Happy Days)
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