By: CJ Johnson | August 17, 2019 |

Improve Your Pickleball Third Shot Drop-Drill #1

Are you getting tired of hitting your third shot drop into the net? Perhaps you’re grappling with the opposite problem. Your pickleball drop shot is too high and easily smashed at your feet.  If you’re struggling to hit unattackable drops, this three-part drills series is designed to help you build touch and consistency.

Without a doubt, the drop shot or affectionately called the third shot drop is one of the most challenging pickleball shots to hit consistently. In the last blog post and video, we reviewed the technique of the drop shot. If you’re not sure how to hit the shot, review that blog first.

In this post, I’m going to share my favorite third shot drop drills, the same ones I use with my students to help them develop touch and consistency.

Use a Skill You Already Have to Develop a New One

Start perfecting the pickleball drop shot by using a dink. It doesn’t take most people long to learn to hit consistent dinks, even if they don’t use them in games very often.  Utilize this to your advantage by starting with the dink and morphing it into a drop shot.


Both players begin dinking at the non-volley zone. One person remains at the net. The other takes a couple of steps back toward the baseline each time they return a dink into the NVZ.

Once they’ve reached the baseline, work their way back to the non-volley zone. Whenever there is a miss, go back to the non-volley zone and start again.

If you’d like to make this drill easier, hit cooperative shots, meaning that your feed to the person hitting the third shot drop can more easily be returned to the kitchen.

If you’d like to make it a little bit harder, the person at the non-volley zone should be aggressive and hit the ball harder and at the feet, making a drop shot more difficult.

A Word of Caution 

As we age, our balance decreases, and we start to shuffle our feet. It’s crucial that when you’re working your way back from the non-volley zone, you pick up your feet. If you shuffle, you run the risk of falling.

An even better way to move backward is to utilize your split step. Simone Jardim, arguably the best defender in the game, does this remarkably well.  Now, most of us will never move as efficiently as she does, but this point demonstrates how she split-steps from the non-volley zone to the baseline.

Even if you haven’t noticed a change after you hit 40, your balance diminishes. That’s one of the reasons why trips and falls are a leading cause of injury for people over 65. The good news is with just a few minutes daily; you can reverse that trend! 


A successful pickleball third shot requires touch to execute successfully. Once you’ve developed sound technique, utilize a dink shot to improve your feel.

Consistency will come with time and repetition. If you’re not willing to practice, try setting aside 10-15 minutes before playing to use this drill.

Are you willing to commit 10-15 minutes before you play to hit a better pickleball drop shot? Put your answer in the comments below.

In next week’s blog, I’ll share the second of my three favorite drop shot drills. Building on the skills you learned today, you’ll discover how to drop the ball from anywhere on the court.


CJ Johnson

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)