Pickleball is one of the fastest growing sports in North America. This fun sport combines elements of tennis, badminton, and ping pong. As a pickleball player, mastering the key shots and techniques is critical for improving your game.
The most important pickleball shots to learn are the forehand drive, lob shot, third shot drop, block shot, volley lob, backhand spin dink, and topspin roll volley.
Learning proper form, control, and strategy for these essential pickleball shots will help you control the flow of play, set up winning opportunities, and boost your skills.
Why Learn Pickleball Shot Techniques?
Understanding and practicing key pickleball shots gives you an edge on the court. Having shot mastery helps you:
- Take control of rallies
- Move opponents around strategically
- Create opening for winning plays
- Improve placement, spin, and power
- Build overall skills and confidence
With so many different shots to choose from, it’s important to focus on truly mastering the most vital ones.
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The forehand drive is one of the most common and powerful pickleball shots.
What is the Forehand Drive?
The forehand drive is meant to be a powerful, pace-changing shot.
Forehand Drive Technique
To hit a great forehand drive:
- Use a large backswing and strong forward swing for power
- Keep your eye on the ball through contact
- Step into the shot and shift your weight forward
- Hit through the ball and follow through fully
- Keep the paddle face square and flat during contact
Aim to hit the ball at its highest point after the bounce. This gives you time to prepare your swing.
The forehand drive is all about controlling the power and pace of play. Practice hitting forehand drives at different speeds – from fast, deep drives to slower, angled drives. Master control and shot placement.
The defensive pickleball lob is essential for extending rallies and regaining control.
What is the Lob Shot?
A lob shot involves lifting the ball high up into the air and deep over the opponent’s head. This forces them to retreat back as the ball arcs down into the backcourt.
Lob shots are primarily used for resetting the tempo of a point.
Lob Shot Technique
To execute a lob:
- Use an open-faced paddle at contact
- Slice under the ball slightly to add backspin
- Control the height but keep it deep
- Move the paddle upward through contact
- Follow through high above your shoulder
- Step back as you make contact for control
Practice hitting lobs from different court positions. Vary the height and depth to keep opponents guessing.
The lob is a defensive shot that lets you regain control and draw opponents back.
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Third Shot Drop
What is the Third Shot Drop?
After the serve and return, the third shot is strategically placed short and soft into the non-volley zone (NVZ). This offensive play gains control of the net position.
The third shot drop is designed to land softly near the net, preventing opponents from volleying.
Third Shot Drop Technique
To perform this controlled shot:
- Use a light grip and keep your arm relaxed
- Drop the paddle head below the ball and sweep up
- Slice under the ball to create backspin
- Keep the shot low over the net and into the NVZ
- Follow through low towards the non-volley line
Practice varying the height and depth of the drop while maintaining control.
Mastering the third shot drop lets you seize control early in rallies.
The block shot is used to counter offensive drives and maintain control.
What is the Block Shot?
A block shot is a medium-paced groundstroke used to deflect a hard drive and reset the rally tempo.
Block shots are controlled returns used for defense.
Block Shot Technique
To execute a block shot:
- Prepare early with your weight centered
- Hold the paddle vertically and keep a firm grip
- Block the ball straight back to contain power
- Allow the ball to deflect off the paddle face
- Keep the return low over the net
- Follow through towards the opponent
Practice blocking different shots – third shot drops, lobs, smashes, etc. Work on control and placement.
Blocking returns hard-driven shots with a neutralizing effect.
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The volley lob is an advanced shot that lets you catch opponents off guard.
What is the Volley Lob?
A volley lob is hit in the air before the ball bounces to arc it high over the opponent’s reach. This strategic shot aims to win the point outright.
Volley lobs are aggressive shots for catching opponents in awkward positions.
Volley Lob Technique
To master the volley lob:
- Use an open paddle face and upward swing path
- Slice under the ball slightly for lift and spin
- Time the shot as the ball is descending
- Follow through high above the shoulder
- Hit deep and high but with control
Practice volley lobs from different court positions at varying heights. Work on precision.
The volley lob requires excellent coordination and timing for executing this winner.
Backhand Spin Dink
The backhand spin dink requires soft finesse and topspin touch.
What is the Backhand Spin Dink?
A backhand dink involves a delicate placement shot placed with spin after the bounce. This shot drops low in the kitchen.
Backhand dinks are designed to skim over the non-volley zone.
Backhand Dink Technique
To execute a backhand dink:
- Use a light grip and keep your wrist loose
- Slice under the ball to put heavy topspin on it
- Brush upward through the ball for spin
- Follow through low towards the net
- Focus on ball control and soft placement
Vary the speed and spin on the dink. Work on precision placements.
The backhand dink allows you to exploit the non-volley zone with finesse.
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Topspin Roll Volley
The topspin roll volley is an intermediate to advanced volley shot with intriguing impact.
What is the Topspin Roll Volley?
The topspin roll volley applies heavy topspin using an upward brushing motion. This volley drives the ball down into the court with force.
Topspin roll volleys act much like a tennis groundstroke but performed in the air.
Topspin Roll Volley Technique
To execute a topspin roll volley:
- Create loads of topspin with a low-to-high paddle sweep
- Make solid contact out in front of your body
- Swing upward through the ball fully
- Follow through towards targets down the line or crosscourt
- Use body rotation to drive power
Practice controlling the speed, spin, and placement of the volley.
The topspin roll volley allows you to hit forceful shots from a volley position.
Mastering pickleball shot techniques requires an understanding of ball control, spin, power, and placement.
Learning proper form and strategy for key shots like the forehand drive, third shot drop, volley lob, and backhand dink gives you an arsenal of offensive and defensive weapons.
Practice the pickleball shots covered here regularly. With repetition, you’ll gain proficiency. Combined with footwork and court positioning, mastering these pickleball shots will have you controlling matches and boosting your capabilities.
So start practicing these essential shots today to step up your pickleball game!