When to Move in After Your 3rd Shot Drop

When to Move in After Your 3rd Shot Drop

The worst advice I've ever heard in regards to pickleball is that you should rush to the kitchen line after you hit a third shot drop. When I begin teaching new students, I often hear they were instructed to get to the line as fast as they can after their third ball. It's single handedly the worst habit that I have to break with my students. So if we aren't supposed to rush in, when should we move in and what are some things we should look for when moving into the kitchen line? Here, I will give you three signs that will help you understand the right times for moving to the kitchen line. 

Getting your 3rd shot drop down - As we practice our 3rd shot drops, we begin to program the feeling of a good 3rd shot drop into our memory banks. The more we hit and the more we get our 3rd shot drops dialed in, the more we will be able to tell (off the paddle) whether or not our drops are going to fall into our opponents kitchen. When we know that we have hit a good 3rd shot drop, that is our first sign to move in as much as we can before we need to get into position for the next ball. If you leave your 3rd shot drop too high, stay back, play defense, and work to get one of your following balls into the kitchen and move up accordingly. 

Watch your opponents potential strike zone - When you hit your 3rd shot drop, if you can't tell whether or not it's going to bounce, take a look at your opponent who is getting ready to hit your ball. If you see them beginning to take their paddle down below the net to make contact, this is another sign that it is safe to move in and make up some ground before your next shot. If it seems they are going to be making contact above the net, hold your ground and get ready for the next ball.

Watch your opponents feet - If you know that you have hit a good third shot drop and you see your opponent holding their feet on the kitchen line, you can move in more aggressively. Reason being, the only way they can make contact with your ball is to hit up on it. By holding the line, they won't have enough space to let it come up to hit it aggressively. If you see them taking a step back to let the ball come up, you'll need to stop early to get ready for a ball at your feet. Watching your opponents movement will tell you a lot about how they are planning on hitting it.

Bonus tip - If you are playing against someone who isn't good at applying pressure with their 4th balls, this allows you to be a little more aggressive moving into the kitchen line. However, if you are facing someone who can hit a heavy ball out of the air and even off the bounce, you will need to prepare a little earlier to take your 5th ball. Analyze your opponents skill set and move in off of your 3rd's accordingly.

If you are a player who hits your 3rd shot drops and crashes the net, Use the tips above to help you get to the kitchen line more efficiently...without getting too many pickleball tattoos on your body ;)

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