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DROP SHOT – A DEVILISH DELIGHT! By TennisTom
The Drop Shot is a soft, delicate shot hit by intention to barely clear the net, is usually hit with backspin (slice) to minimize its bounce, and gives the opponent little or no time to retrieve it. A good drop shot falls short in the opponent’s service box, has a low bounce, and either bounces twice or forces the retriever to hit upward on the ball. The drop shot is less risky in doubles than in singles because you have two players to intercept the return.
WHEN TO TRY A DROP SHOT
The best time to hit a drop shot depends on the court positioning of your opponents as well as the position you are in. The only times you should choose to hit a drop shot are 1) when the baseline opponent is behind the baseline, 2) when the opponent net player is not close enough to retrieve it, 3) when you are inside your baseline (the closer you are to the net the better), and 4) when you are in a state of controlled balance.
A drop shot is a touch shot, and as such requires what tennis aficionados call “good hands” to produce a quality shot. Most players use a number of habitual stroke speeds, for instance one speed for the first serve, another speed for the second serve, another speed for lobs, another speed for most ground strokes, and more rarely another speed for blocking incoming shots (called a stop volley). A drop shot requires a different speed than all other shots. Many players do not use the drop shot speed simply because they are not used to hitting the ball with finesse. The ONLY way to develop a good drop shot is to practice it. Be sure to practice this shot with both your forehand and your backhand. When you try the backhand, rotate your body to a closed position. If you use a two-handed backhand, start your shot with both hands on the racket but let go with your trailing hand at impact. I teach all of my 2.5-3.0 students to become familiar with the drop shot. When you hit an intentional, winning drop shot it is a thing of beauty and exhilaration.
HOW TO HIT A DROP SHOT
Start your swing with your racquet about a foot or so higher than and a couple of feet further back than your anticipated point of contact. When you do this your body preparation should look the same as when you are going to hit a groundstroke slice. Use a short racket path which moves from high to low and forward. This imparts backspin by brushing down the back of the ball. The upward tilt of your racquet face needs to be adjusted according to your swing path and racket speed. The amount of tilt can only be learned through trial and error in practice. Most all drop shots should be attempted when the oncoming ball is arriving near your waist (in your hitting zone) and at no more than medium pace. Don’t overuse this shot because you will sacrifice the element of surprise.
GRIP, RACKET FACE ANGLE, & SWING PATH
The grip that works best for many players is the Eastern grip, but others will do. You may want to go to a Continental or Eastern backhand on your backhand. When learning the drop shot almost all players tend to open their racket face too open (upward tilt) which results in an excessively high shot and of course defeats the purpose of the shot. Have someone feed a hopper of practice balls to you at a medium speed so that you can learn which racket path and racket face angle works best for you. To reduce the timing requirements that longer swings incur, be sure to use a short swing. Think “touch shot” and you will get the idea. Have fun with this shot. If you hit a winner with this shot and your opponent stares at you and grumbles, just say that “The devil made me do it!”
[17-DROP SHOT – A Devilish Delight by TennisTom] [Rev 2-5-11]