CJ Johnson Headshot
CJ Johnson
Tony Roig
Tony Roig

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.

7.  Footwork

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.

Conclusion

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!

20 Comments

  1. Wally on August 10, 2019 at 11:23 am

    You are awesome keep the emails coming they are great help to me

  2. Wally on August 10, 2019 at 11:25 am

    Cj keep the emails coming I need all the help I can get.

  3. Gerald on August 10, 2019 at 3:25 pm

    Very good information especially the tip about the short swing technique
    Thanks

  4. James R. Crane on August 10, 2019 at 5:25 pm

    What do you think about using a ball machine ? My local rec dept bought one and we are going to set up drills

    • Cathy Jo Johnson on August 11, 2019 at 2:37 pm

      Hi James, I think a ball machine is a great way to get in a lot of reps! Which ball machine did they purchase?

  5. Dick Barton on August 12, 2019 at 6:53 am

    CJ, good stuff as always. Keep it coming. Dick

  6. Wally on August 12, 2019 at 12:27 pm

    Outstanding as usual

  7. Stephen Chavkin on August 12, 2019 at 3:15 pm

    I belong to a team and part of each practice is hitting third-shot drop shots. I also have a ball machine and practice that shot several times a week. But I’m still inconsistent finding it’s a work in progress.

  8. Diane Cassidy on August 15, 2019 at 8:23 pm

    Yes, there are 5 in our group who run drills twice a week, including the drop shot. Thanks for the tips.

  9. Charli on August 17, 2019 at 4:29 am

    Great article

  10. […] 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 […]

  11. The Nine Point Third Shot Drill - on August 24, 2019 at 8:57 am

    […] is the third video in the third shot drill series. In the first one, we covered the fundamental technique. Last week, we utilized an easier shot, the dink, to develop touch as we move further away from the […]

  12. […] in case you missed any of them, in the first post, we reviewed the fundamentals. Then in the first drop shot drill, we used the dink to help you develop touch from the baseline. […]

  13. Tim Schutte on January 2, 2022 at 5:35 pm

    Never thought I could practice a drop shot outside of play by myself.
    Now I know it is possible, I will start practicing on my own.

    • CJ Johnson on January 2, 2022 at 5:52 pm

      Hi Tim, there are a lot of shots you can do alone. I love to turn on the music and hit balls against a wall. (sometimes I do it against the house but don’t tell my husband!) I find the time alone soothing

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