Commit to the Drop, React to the Drive

Commit to the Drop, React to the Drive

I come across a lot of students who have a tough time deciding when to drop or drive their third shots. This indecision often creates a plethora of mistakes at the baseline and inside the transition zone, causing low percentage opportunities to get to the kitchen line and neutralize the point. I help them make this decision a little easier by teaching them to commit to the drop and react to the drive.

If we look at it logistically, the shorter returns are the balls that we are looking to take advantage of with a good third shot drive. Our opponents are still moving into position, we have a ball that is sitting up high enough to drive effectively, and our opponents don’t have a lot of time to react. Perfect time to attack!

However, we want to avoid a 3rd shot drive on a deep return. With a deeper return, we are too far away from the kitchen line to recover a good block and our opponents have plenty of time to react and execute a high-quality 4th shot. Even though this logic seems simple, it doesn’t always translate to match play quite as easy.

Because I know my opponents are looking to keep me back with a deep return, I want to commit to hitting a 3rd shot drop before the rally even begins. If I am committed to hitting a drop, it will be much easier to execute than if I’m caught between the two. (We tend to make more unforced errors when we are indecisive.) It’s only when we get that short return that draws us towards the kitchen that we can flip the switch and react to the drive. Without making this decision easy in our minds, we can get into patterns of hitting 3rd shot drives from deep positions in the court, leading to fewer opportunities to get to the kitchen efficiently. Make it easy, commit to the drop, react to the drive.  

Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions you have! I am certified teaching pro in Augusta, GA and I help students improve their skills every day! If you would like me to help me with your game, please reach out me about my video analysis services so we can get your game headed in the right direction!

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Thanks for your insight into drops and drives

Michael Vaught

I agree with this post. I try yo drop all 3rd shots, but i think if it’s a short return it makes sense to drive it, but trying to drive while running for the short return can create problems too. Should I try to stop before I try to drive it?

Rich Bailey

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