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3 Pickleball Tips to Defend Against Top Spin Drops

News Stacie Townsend 02-20-2023

Pickleball players are becoming more aggressive with their shots on the pickleball court. This includes with their respective third shot drops, as players are increasingly hitting their drop shots with more spin, more power, and better placement. One such aggressive drop shot seen on the pickleball court is a top spin drop.

The top spin drop is a shot that is intended to land in or around the Kitchen and that has forward spin that is traveling from 6 o’clock to 12 o’clock toward the opposing team. The top spin on the pickleball will cause the drop to (1) take a harder “bite” out of the air down toward the court, and (2) take a bigger bounce off of the court (or off of the opposing player’s pickleball paddle).

So, how do you counterbalance this aggressive top spin drop? Generally speaking, if you are on the receiving end of an aggressive top spin drop, your goal is to neutralize the shot, avoid popping up the pickleball from the spin, and keep the pickleball low above the net and down at your opponents’ feet. If you are struggling with achieving this goal or otherwise handling these pesky top spin drops, try the following 3 pickleball tips:

  1. Understand the Trajectory – As alluded to above, a top spin drop will generally have a sharper trajectory than a traditional flat drop (i.e., one without spin). The top spin drop will “bite” more aggressively down toward your feet as the recipient of the shot. So, understand the trajectory and the fact that the drop will likely bounce shorter in the court than a flat drop without spin. By understanding the trajectory of the shot (and keeping your eyes on the pickleball), you will be better able to anticipate your point of contact. 
  1. Stay Balanced with Your Feet – Balance is critical on every shot on the pickleball court. But, this is especially true when you are under “duress” with an aggressive shot from your opponents. Being balanced from the ground up will allow you to better absorb the pace and spin from your opponents. Further, if you understand the trajectory of the shot (as noted in point #1 above), you can better move your feet to be in the right position to be balanced at the point of contact.

3 Pickleball Tips to Defend Against Top Spin Drops | Pickler Pickleball

  1. Remain Calm at Contact – At contact:

    1. Be sure to make contact out in front of your body, without overextending. If you feel that you have to overextend or that you will be jammed at your feet, consider taking a step back to allow the top spin drop to bounce, and then hit the drop off of the bounce.
    2. Use “soft hands” to neutralize the top spin on the ball (which, as a reminder, has a tendency to cause the pickleball to have a higher bounce, inducing pop-ups—which is what you want to avoid). In other words, use a loose grip and absorb the pickleball with your paddle (as opposed to having a firm grip and/or using the pickleball as a backboard).

As your opponents come up with stronger, more aggressive shots, it is important to elevate your own game to counterattack or neutralize them. Understanding the shot, staying balanced, and remaining calm are the first keys to success in doing this—particularly, with an aggressive top spin drop.

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