How to hit the pickleball 4th shot

Learn to respond to the serving team’s 3rd shot.

Danea & Barrett Bass



April 18, 2024



Stay up to date with out latest news and articles

Thank you for subscribing 🎉

Related Articles

We talk a lot about the 3rd shot drop in pickleball — but what about the pickleball 4th shot? Learn to respond to the serving team’s 3rd shot with your own 4th shot as the receiving team, hitting the ball off the bounce vs. out of the air, and the difference between a fourth shot drive and a fourth shot drop.

If you can master the fourth shot in pickleball you will have the edge over your opponents and keep them from getting to the most valuable spot on the court: the kitchen line. 

What is the fourth shot? If Team A serves the ball and Team B returns the ball, Team A would probably hit a third shot drop or a third shot drive. Team B would respond to the third shot with the fourth shot.

There are two main scenarios that are going to happen when you're hitting your fourth shot: either your opponent is going to drive the ball at you or  they're going to drop the ball.

Scenario #1: Responding to the Drive

When your opponent drives the ball at you, you should have short and compact swings to keep them back. To do this, you should be hitting the ball towards their feet.

If your opponent drives the ball at you, you should try to have a short, compact swing aiming down at their feet feep into the court. Keep your feet active, don’t be too flat footed.

Scenario #2: Responding to the Drop

Responding to a third shot drop is one of the most difficult skills to learn in pickleball. There are primarily two different shots that you can do: offensively or defensively. You will determine how you respond based on the type of drop they send you.

So how do you know when to take the ball out of the air versus when to let the ball bounce? If your contact point is higher when the ball bounces than it is when you take the ball out of the air, you should let the ball bounce. If you can contact the ball at a higher point than the ball is going to bounce off the ground, that is a shot you should take out of the air.

If your opponent gives you a good third shot drop you're going to naturally have to respond in a defensive manner. This will let them come in to the kitchen line and you will have to respect the fact that they just hit a good shot. 

There will also be times when your opponent will hit a drop that you can take out of the air, which will allow you more of an offensive shot. For this type of shot, look for a ball that is traveling deeper into the kitchen, keep your paddle face moving forward in a short and compact swing, and have your paddle down so that the ball goes down toward their feet. This should keep your opponent back and unable to move up to the kitchen line.

One of the hardest things when it comes to mastering the fourth shot and it's learning when to take the ball out of the air and apply pressure and keep them back with a roll volley, versus letting the ball bounce.

To learn more about the 4th shot drills you can do on your local court, watch the video above.