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How to Hit a Fourth Shot Return in Pickleball

Celebrated pickleball coach Steve Dawson

Steve Dawson

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The fourth shot in pickleball is often overlooked. It seems that everyone talks about the third shot drop and the importance of the third shot, but the fourth shot to the receiver is just as important as the third shot is to the server. When you return serve in pickleball, that’s considered shot number two of the rally with the serve being shot number one. That means when you return serve and move up to the kitchen line, and your opponent hits their third shot at you, your response is the fourth. If you want to succeed in pickleball, this video is going to go over what your response should be with your fourth shot when your opponent is driving their third shot.  

The most important thing about your fourth shot, when your opponent is ripping their third shot at you, is that you do not overswing on your fourth with the ball that’s coming at you hard. There’s simply not enough time to pull the paddle back, wind up, and swing when the ball is coming at you at 50 to 60 miles an hour. If your opponent drives their third at you, you’re going to hit it nice and hard, but your paddle movement will be short and crisp because there simply isn’t enough time to be swinging wildly when the ball is traveling at you so fast.  

Another thing to think about when preparing for your fourth shot is that your feet should get planted. You do not want to be running when you hit it. A small little jump with your feet to get planted and get your body ready to receive a hard shot is called a split step. You’ll see it in all sports. In pickleball, that little split step should be made prior to your opponent driving their hard third shot at you. 

Something else to look for on the fourth shot block is to not jump when you hit the ball. A lot of people respond to their opponent’s power by flinching, jumping, straightening up their knees, or lifting their head. If your body and head are moving and your eyes are bobbing up and down, it is almost impossible to have a clean strike against a hard third shot drive. You should keep a constant flex in your knees. Once you split and hit the ball, that constant knee bend stops you and keeps your head from bobbing up and down. 

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