Third Shot Drop

Offense vs Defense vs Neutral

August 21 2023

Knowing who controls the point dictates how you should prepare for your next shot. A transition from defense to offense can happen in a split second. Below are the three states of pickleball.

Here are the examples to identify if you’re on offense, defense, or in a neutral state.


  1. Court position - Your opponents are closer to the kitchen line
  2. Off Balance - A lunge, stretch, or reach for the ball that puts you off balance
  3. Contact point - Contact behind your body or getting jammed are two examples
  4. Half volley - It's ill-advised to attack a low ball, you're likely playing defense on a half volley
  5. High ball - When you give your opponent a high ball to hit out of the air
  6. Dead dink - When you hit a high bouncing dink, your opponent can attack

The opposite of scenarios 1-6. The returning team usually starts on 'offense' because they get to the kitchen line first.

All four players have reached the kitchen line and none of the above scenarios are in play. It is typically seen after a successful third or fifth shot drop.

Clearly defining when you’re on offense vs defense will help you predict what happens next on the court. It tells you where to stand, how tight to grip your paddle, and where to look for the next ball.

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