Posted On April 09, 2013
Marsha from Toledo, OH asks: “I was interested in your thoughts on strategy. I hear so many players talk about the third shot being a soft shot so that your team can get to the kitchen line. What is your take on the third shot and what is your strategy when hitting it?”
Jay from Steamboat Springs, CO asks: “I understand the mechanics of the 3rd shot, drop shot, master shot (whatever its called) but need some help with where to place it to combine a solid strategy with the shot. Help?”
Susan from Northville, MI asks: “I’ve read about mastering a 3rd shot. What are your thoughts?”
Answer by “Jennifer Locore”
Great questions- For our purposes here, I’ll stay with “third shot”. I’ve also heard it referred to different names, but they generally describe the type of shot like “drop shot” or “long dink” opposed to being the actual third shot of a point; admittedly, I’d not heard of the “master shot”.
The third shot is a valuable and necessary shot to master; maybe that’s where that name came from. This shot is used when your opponents are already at the net and you’re at the baseline needing to get yourself to the kitchen line. The third shot is a long dink hit from the baseline softly over the net and into your opponent’s non-volley zone. The goal, often easier said than done, is to land it at their feet not allowing them to volley the ball in the air. When executed correctly this shot allows the person (and their teammate) hitting the third shot to get to the net . The sooner you get to the net, the higher chance of winning the point.
The location of placement is dependent on various scenarios, but the middle is generally the safest and highest percentage; in part because the net is lower, but also because you have more room for error and there is always the chance of confusion on the part of your opponents. If the opportunity presents itself by an opponent being out of position, cross court or down the line can be effective. Lastly, I’m sure you’ve noticed players who “play” to the weaker player. That’s a whole other strategy that may be considered as you decide where or who to hit your third shot too.
Whatever you decide, once the ball leaves your paddle move to the net ready for the elusive pop-up. If you’re ready, you’ll be occasionally gifted a perfectly placed ball ready to be smacked for a winning volley shot. That is a great feeling!
It’s subtle improvements and consistency that will take you to the next skill level.