For more advanced pickleball players, the third shot strategy is generally obvious: they should know the ideal time for a drop versus a drive (if you don't, read up!).
If you're playing mixed doubles, however, the strategy may require some extra considerations.
Simone Jardim is a certified pickleball legend. When she shells out mixed dubs advice, we listen. We’d even buy seashells if she sold them, but that's beside the point.
In this recent tidbit, Jardim lays out some strategy for the third shot in mixed doubles:
There are two places where Jardim suggests you send your third shot:
- Drop - Behind the guy. Men usually pinch the middle in mixed doubles. It is important to keep them honest from the jump. One way to do that is to drop the ball to the side of the male player. If they're playing the left, aim the ball at their left foot. Make them play a ball from their half of the court before they can slide to the middle.
- Drive - At the forehand hip. Simone also recommends a drive at the forehand side hip of the female player.
She suggests the forehand instead of the backhand side, which might seem strange.
Simone warns that on the backhand side, the player could slide out of the way and counter with a strong two-handed backhand.
The two-hander is a shot that is becoming very popular in the pro game. Adding the shift makes the backhand even more effective.
By targeting the forehand, Jardim's goal is to jam the player. She wants to force an awkward response. Something that her partner can take advantage of as they crash toward the NVZ.
Related: Boost Your 3rd Shot Drop Success
Take it from the GOAT. Be intentional with your third shot. It's the most important shot in the game.
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