Lesson of the Month

April 2024

The Question

With all due respect to Shakespeare (though I doubt he was much of a pickleball player), for our purposes, “the” question is not “to be, or not to be”, but instead, “to drop or to drive” the third shot.

This month’s lesson is the first of two dealing with this burning question and I hope you find it helpful, meaningful, and enlightening to your pickleball life. For years, there was not much debate to this question. We were all taught and expected to play a drop on our third shot. It was just how pickleball was played. After all you didn’t want to be labeled a ‘banger’! Now the game is evolving and there are some times when a drive on the third shot is a better play. We will deal with those next month. So, let’s start with when and why to play a drop on your third shot.

One of the main reasons to play a drop is if you believe you and your partner benefit from a ‘softer’ game. Often the third shot sets the tone for the rest of the rally. When you are making the third shot, you have probably the best opportunity to set the tone. It is often more difficult later in the rally to play an effective soft reset that is not attackable for your opponent.

Another reason to play a drop on your third (or any subsequent shot) is to ‘buy time’ and get to the Non-Volley Zone line. If you are hitting the third shot, that means your team served, your opponents have the advantage and have likely already taken their places at the Non-Volley Zone line. To have the best chance to win the rally, you and your partner need to be at the Non-Volley Zone line as well. The best way to get there is with a drop in front of your opponents. In fact, it may take more than one drop shot for you and your partner to make it all the way in to the Non-Volley Zone Line, and that is fine. Be patient!

The final reason we’ll discuss to play a drop is that it is a higher percentage shot to prolong the rally (assuming you have practiced). If your opponents are in their place of advantage at the Non-Volley Zone line, their arms almost cover the whole width of the court. Even if you hit your very best drive, the chances of you hitting a successful passing shot by or between them is pretty small. Make the percentage play, prolong the rally, be patient, and play the drop.

Come back next month and we’ll talk about the times when it is good to go for a drive on your third shot.

                                                                   David Eversole, PPR

March 2024

The Drop Serve

To drop or not to drop that is the question?  If you decide to use the drop serve, here are some keys to success:

The Drop Serve is just what the name says.  It is a serve where you DROP (not toss or throw the ball down) the ball and let it bounce on the court before hitting it. 

Very, very, important: On the Drop Serve, make sure you  release the ball from your hand and  do NOT toss it.

 Key points to know:

                           Anna Walters, PPR

February 2024

Keep It Deep


In my experience, playing any doubles matches, if you keep the serve, as well as the return, deep in the court, it can be a great first offensive move.


Returning deep allows your partner to move freely to poach and will limit your opponent's ability to fire a ball back. It can also allow you to move forward faster in most cases.


On the opposite end of the spectrum, short returns allow the serving team to beat you in, and or attack your partner, since they are standing at the net, helpless!


Remember the serving team has to let it bounce first.


Serving the ball deep in the court does not allow your opponent time to attack, and many times presents you with a short return. Thus, putting you in the offensive position. 


Remember practice won't make you perfect, but it will make you more consistent!  



                                                                Melinda Tate, RDH, CPI, PPR, USPTA

                                                                 And I Approve This Message  

January 2024

Hold on Loosely


Yes, you are in the right place for a quick lesson on pickleball. You are not in the 1980’s hit songs discussion forum, if there even is such a thing. But who knew all those years ago when 38 Special gave us this sage advice, that they were actually referring to how to hold your pickleball paddle?


This is one of the most common tips I give to beginners and even those who have played longer: don’t hold your paddle with a ‘death grip’! Not only is this uncomfortable, but it builds tension throughout your arm and body. You don’t benefit from this extra tension in any way.


If you think of your grip pressure on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being barely holding on and 5 being the dreaded ‘death grip’, the recommended grip pressure is about 2! Surprised? Yes, holding loosely really gives you the best control of your paddle and allows you to have the best ‘touch’ on your shots. What I mean by ‘touch’ is going immediately from a hard to soft to firm shot without a change in grip or pressure. This loose grip also relaxes your hand and arm, allowing you to play longer without fatigue.


Next time you are on the court, remember your 38 Special from 1981 and ‘Hold on Loosely’!



                                         David Eversole, PPR