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Third Shot Drive

The third shot drive in pickleball is an alternative to the traditional third shot drop. While the third shot drop is a soft and controlled shot that helps players move to the net, the third shot drive involves a more aggressive approach. Here's more information about the third shot drive in pickleball:

third shot drive


  • The primary purpose of the third shot drive is to put pressure on the opponents by hitting the ball with speed and power. This can disrupt the opponents' rhythm and create opportunities for an offensive advantage.

Aggressive Shot:

  • The third shot drive is a more aggressive shot compared to the third shot drop. It involves hitting the ball with a flatter trajectory and more power, aiming to push the opponents back and limit their options.

Depth and Placement:

  • The key to a successful third shot drive is to hit the ball with enough depth to prevent opponents from volleying easily. The third shot drive should either be aimed directly at the opponent’s body causing them to hit the ball into the net or pop the ball up, or deep in the opponent's court, closest to the baseline.

Speed and Pace:

  • Players executing the third shot drive use more pace and speed to send the ball over the net. This can catch opponents off guard, especially if they are expecting a softer drop shot.

Timing and Control:

  • While the third shot drive involves more power, it still requires good timing and control. Players need to strike the ball cleanly to prevent errors and keep it within the bounds of the court.


  • Players can vary the third shot drive by changing the angle, spin, or height of the shot based on the specific situation. Some players add topspin to the drive for more control or aim to hit the top of the net which can redirect the ball making it nearly impossible for opponents to readjust in time to hit it.

Risk and Reward:

  • The third shot drive is considered a riskier shot compared to the drop shot. While it can put pressure on opponents, a mistimed or inaccurate drive can result in errors and give the opponents an advantage.

Transition to Net Play:

  • After executing the third shot drive, players typically move forward to take control of the net. This transition is important for maintaining a dominant position in the rally.

Counter to Soft Shots:

  • When opponents provide a weak or high third shot, players might choose the third shot drive as a counter to capitalize on the opportunity for an offensive play.

Strategic Element:

  • The decision to use the third shot drive is often strategic and situational. Players may choose this option based on their skill level, the opponents' weaknesses, or the dynamics of the point.

Communication in Doubles:

  • In doubles play, effective communication between partners is crucial when deciding whether to execute a third shot drive. Both players should be aware of each other's intentions and positioning.


  • Like any shot in pickleball, practicing the third shot drive is essential for developing consistency. Players often work on their drive technique to ensure they can use it effectively in various game situations.

In summary, the third shot drive is a more aggressive option for players who are comfortable with a faster-paced, attacking style of play. It can be a strategic choice, especially when looking to take control of the point and keep opponents on the defensive. However, players should be mindful of the increased risk associated with this shot and use it judiciously based on the game context.

The most important things to do while using the third shot drive:

  • Hit the third shot drive over the net (never miss it into the net)

  • Aim third shot drives on the backhand side of opponents (to make it hardest for them to return deep back into the court)

  • Add topspin or sidespin to make it more difficult for opponents to handle

  • Use effective third shot drives to move into the transition zone, up to the NVZ/Kitchen, and set up poach opportunities to win points more easily and effectively.

Are you interested in learning more about this pickleball shot? Or taking lessons to help you improve + master it? Click the link below to schedule time for your personalized lesson with our certified pickleball instructors! 

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