April 10-14, 2024

Third Shot Drives Are on the Rise

Author: Jim Ramsey | April 2, 2024

Aanik Lohani PPA Tour

A shift in tactics is underway in the PPA. Have you noticed it, especially lately? If you think you’ve been seeing more third shot drives, you are right, and the numbers back it up.

Let’s compare the statistics on third shots in the three PPA gold medal doubles matches in each of the first five tournaments of this year to those same tournaments at the start of 2023. (3×5=15 matches total each year)

  • 2023: 2,006 total third shots, 768 third shot drives: 38 percent.
  • 2024: 1,782 total third shots, 915 third shot drives: 51 percent. 

That 13 percent increase in third shot drives is paralleled across the men’s, women’s, and mixed doubles categories:

  • Men’s Doubles: 49 percent drives in 2023, 56 percent drives in 2024, a 7 percent increase.
  • Women’s Doubles: 32 percent drives in 2023, 47 percent drives in 2024, a 15 percent increase.
  • Mixed Doubles: 36 percent drives in 2023, 52 percent drives in 2024, a 16 percent increase.

Here’s another way to look at it. In 2023, None of the 15 finals matches had a combined third shot drive percentage over 60 percent. In 2024, five of the 15 finals matches were over 60 percent. The players in the men’s doubles final at the Indoor USA Championships chose third shot drive a startling 76 percent of the time.

There are several variables, including the new Vulcan ball, new paddles, different players involved, etc. It’s also fair to say nearly four-thousand third shots during thirty matches is a substantial sample size. My intent is to add statistics to existing perception to facilitate conversation about the sport. I will revisit this comparison later this year.

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