Mastering Pickleball: 5 Essential Shots Every Player Should Know


To excel in pickleball, a player must possess a diverse repertoire of shots beyond the basic forehand and backhand. This sport features unique shots like the 3rd shot drop and the dink, which are not commonly found in other racquet sports. Understanding and mastering these shots will elevate your game and keep your opponents guessing.

It’s crucial to recognize that pickleball requires a different approach compared to tennis. You can’t rely solely on power; finesse and strategy play significant roles. The pickleball ball has a different bounce, and the smaller court size makes it easy to hit balls out of bounds. Here are five strategic shots that will enhance your game and help you dominate the court.

1. The Dink

The dink is a fundamental shot in pickleball, especially crucial for net play. This soft shot lands in the opponent’s kitchen, just over the net. The objective is to place the ball in such a way that it bounces in the opposing kitchen, making it difficult for your opponent to return aggressively.

As you advance, you can add topspin or backspin to your dink, making it even more challenging for your opponent. Mastering the dink is essential, particularly in doubles, where most points are won at the net. A well-placed dink can prevent your opponent from spiking the ball back at you, giving you a strategic advantage.

2. The Drop Shot

The drop shot is a versatile shot that helps reset the pace of play and allows you to transition to the net. Similar to the dink but executed from further away, a well-placed drop shot lands in the opponent’s kitchen, preventing them from hitting a fast-paced return.

Often used as a return of serve, the drop shot is essentially a long-range dink. It enables you to move up to the net and control the point. Watch Jay Devilliers (a top 10 pickleball pro) execute the perfect PPA drop shot for an excellent example.

3. The Overhead Smash

The overhead smash is a powerful shot used to capitalize on your opponent’s mistakes. When they leave a ball hanging in the air, you can slam it back to their side of the court with force. To perform an overhead smash, hit the ball with power and aim it toward the ground. Be cautious not to let your momentum carry you past the kitchen line into the non-volley zone, as this would result in a fault.

Regularly executing overhead smashes may earn you the nickname “banger.” Opponents might target your partner instead, requiring you to be prepared for cross-court dinks and deep returns, which are common strategies to counter the overhead smash.

4. The Drive

The drive is a low, powerful shot designed to catch your opponent off guard. This shot forces your opponent to react quickly, often resulting in a weak return that you can capitalize on with a subsequent smash.

While the drive is an excellent way to switch up your play and keep your opponent guessing, use it with caution. If your opponent successfully returns the drive, you may find yourself stuck at the back of the court, making it challenging to win the point.

5. The Lob Shot

The lob shot is an essential tool for catching opponents off guard or resetting the pace of the game. The goal is to hit the ball over your opponent’s head, landing it close to the baseline. This forces your opponent to retreat, giving you time to reposition yourself.

However, be careful when executing a lob shot. If the ball is hit too low or short, your opponent may smash it back at you, making it difficult to return. This PrimeTime Pickleball video offers valuable tips on how to disguise and maximize the effectiveness of your lobs.

Final Thoughts

Mastering these five essential pickleball shots will significantly improve your game and keep your opponents on their toes. Each shot plays a crucial role in making you a well-rounded player capable of competing at the highest levels. Keep practicing these shots to enhance your skills and impress your friends on the court.


1. What is the most important shot in pickleball?

The dink is often considered the most important shot in pickleball, especially in doubles play. It allows you to control the pace of the game and forces your opponent into difficult positions.

2. How can I improve my overhead smash?

To improve your overhead smash, focus on your footwork and positioning. Ensure you are under the ball before executing the shot, and practice hitting with power and accuracy.

3. When should I use a drop shot?

A drop shot is best used when you need to reset the pace of the game or transition to the net. It is particularly effective

What do you think?

Written by Billy Pickles

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