Relishing Pickleball: The Drop Shot

David Zapatka

Continuing our study of Pickleball Fundamentals Master the basics and compete with confidence by Mary Littlewood, it is time now to learn about the drop shot after learning about the overhead smash the past two months.

Mary Littlewood says the reason to hit a drop shot is to give the team deep in their court, usually the serving team, the opportunity to follow up the shot to the non-volley zone. Here is Ms. Littlewood’s advice.

“A drop shot is hit off of a bounce from deep in the court. While the body position of the player hitting the drop shot resembles that of a player hitting a groundstroke, the forward swing of the paddle arm is slower. The trajectory of a drop shot should be somewhat lofted with the high point of the arch being over the hitting player’s non-volley zone. When hit correctly, the ball will drop just over the net and land in the opponent’s non-volley zone. A typical rally in a well-played pickleball game will include the first shot of a serve that lands deep in the court diagonally across from the server; the second shot of a return of the serve that is high and deep giving the serve receiver time to get to the non-volley zone line to join his partner; and the third shot of a drop shot hit by a player on the serving team. That shot, then, is followed up with both partners hustling to the non-volley zone line. Your objective is to hit the ball so that the highest point of the arc of the flight is over your side of the net fairly close to the non-volley zone. The ball should then drop down into the opponents’ non-volley zone as close to the net as possible. Most important when executing a drop shot is that it be soft and controlled!”

Ms. Littlewood suggests that if you have trouble executing the drop shot from the baseline, you try it in a practice situation from midcourt. As you are able, move back gradually until you are at the baseline. Since the ball is landing in the opponents’ non-volley zone, they cannot hit the ball in the air. Their only option is to hit the ball after the bounce. You do not care how high the ball travels over the top of the net as long as it drops down close to the net in the opposing non-volley zone. Learning to execute a drop shot is critical to your growth as a pickleball player.

Ms. Littlewood’s book has beautiful illustrations of the strokes and strategies she is teaching. These illustrations help the reader see each aspect of the strokes as well as the flight path of the ball making learning easy.

Have a question about pickleball? Want to know more about the sport, the rules, equipment, or have some pickilicious news you would like to share with our pickleball community?  Email David Zapatka at [email protected].