Teaching Tennis: Executing the Drop Shot

Many players make the mistake of thinking that the drop shot should be an outright winner.

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The drop shot is a relatively soft shot that travels with a low trajectory barely clearing the net, and lands very short on your opponent’s side of the net. Many players make the mistake of thinking that the drop shot should be an outright winner. Realistically speaking, the drop shot should be thought of as a set-up stroke. It’s meant to draw a weak reply from your opponent, putting them in a vulnerable situation. A low bouncing shot, hopefully, the drop shot should only give your opponent the opportunity to hit up on the ball while drawing him/her closer to the net. A high bouncing dropper will give your opponent an opportunity to drive down on the ball resulting in a winner. I recommend that the drop shot be hit with under-spin. The more, the better.

Putting under-spin on your drop shot will cause the ball to bite the court a little and stop the forward momentum of the flight of the ball. But be careful, attempting to apply too much under-spin can cause your shot to pop up giving your opponent plenty of time to run down your drop shot putting yourself in a vulnerable position. Choosing the right time to attempt a drop shot is crucial. You should only try hitting the drop shot from inside the baseline. All to often, I see club players attempting drop shots from behind the baseline. This is difficult to accomplish for two reasons. The first being that you are to far away from the net making it a difficult shot to execute.

Secondly, the ball has to travel too far, giving your opponent time to read the shot, enabling him/her to effectively retrieve your shot. The best time to attempt a drop shot is when you’re inside the baseline, and your opponent is behind the baseline. The drop shot is another one of those shots that players neglect to practice. To practice drop shots, start out hitting them from about the service line. As you develop some confidence, you can move further back and bounce the ball shorter in your opponent’s court.

Mechanics and technique:

DISGUISE – Set up as if you were hitting a ground stroke. I recommend that you set up your attempts by hitting some slice forehands and backhands during and at the beginning of the match. Doing this will help disguise the fact that you plan to use some drop shots in your repertoire of shots.

STEP FORWARD – It’s important that your drop shot resemble the look of a normal ground stroke. As if you were hitting a forehand or backhand slice, swing on a downward plane to meet the ball as you step forward into your shot.

CONTACT – While focusing on the point of contact, meet the ball with your racquet head tilted a little to impart under-spin on you shot. So the ball doesn’t pop off your strings, push the racquet through as if you were hitting a volley. Doing this will give you more control of your shot.

FOLLOW-THROUGH – Keep the follow-through short, but longer than that of a volley. Allow the racquet to continue out toward the target area. Remember that you are drawing your opponent closer in, so begin your recovery as soon as you can.

RECOVER – Once you hit your drop shot, you may choose to follow to the net to cut-off your opponents reply, or you may choose to backpedal into a better position. Don’t just hang around to see if your opponent gets to your drop shot; take advantage of your situation.

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