The Overview

The drop shot is probably the most delicate shot in tennis. It is hit softly, with backspin and falls onto the court just after clearing the net. The drop shot is a great tactic as it can be hit as an outright winner or to force the opponent to the net where he/she may be vulnerable.

The drop shot is played most effectively when you are inside the court. Ideally you have received a short ball from your opponent where you are able to move well inside the court to execute the shot. From this position you have a few choices: hit an approach shot, an aggressive groundstroke (winner) or a drop shot. As you can see here, having three options is nice to have; as it will keep your opponent “frozen” and unsure of what shot will come.

As a general rule- regardless of what shot you will attempt- you should prepare the body and racket as if he/she was going to hit an aggressive approach or groundstroke. This enables the attacking player to “freeze” the opponent, pushing their weight on their heels and enables for the racket to them slide under the ball- using backspin- to execute the drop shot. Like a great magician, the drop shot is a great shot when it is disguised well.

 

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The Grip: Because you want to hit the drop shot with an open racket face- the Continental Grip fits perfectly. This is the case of both the forehand and backhand sides. In fact- the slice backhand is the perfect preparation for a drop shot- the racket is slightly open and on plane with regards to the backswing. As you practice putting backspin on the ball- it is important that you have the ball bouncing and stopping in place. Or, have the ball bounce twice in the same spot.

 

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The Stance and Footwork: You will most likely need to run up on the ball to some degree in order to pull off the dropshot, because it is usually a weak shot from your opponent with little pace on it. This means that you will treat it in the same fashion as you would an approach shot. You can use an open, closed, or semi-closed stance, but the typical stance is usually closed. The body is often positioned in a sideways manner to the net which allows for more of a forward weight transfer which helps to disguise the shot as a regular approach shot.

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Preparation and Rotation: The backswing for the drop shot should be the same looping motion that you have for your approach or groundstroke. The shoulder and hip rotation also mimics that of your usual approach shot or groundstroke making sure to sell the "disguise" factor of the shot and keep your opponent guessing. Once the loop is made the racket moves forward to strike the ball and it is during the forward momentum of the swing where the racket face is opened. This is where the “disguise” is performed and the opponent is left on their heels.

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The Stroke: The contact point for the Drop Shot is made virtually between the hip or waist area. An important thing to note here is for best results you want to meet the ball at its apex. This means at the top of the bounce. If you hit the ball as it is coming down- the opponent is able to read the shot easier as you have then lost the “freeze” factor, which is so key with the drop shot. The trajectory of the drop shot should be rising up initially and then the ball starts to move down as it crosses the line of the net. It is a more up and down trajectory so as to ensure that the ball lands as close to the net as possible, with backspin, so the opponent has to run further to reach it.

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Follow-Through and Recovery: The follow through for this shot is very similar to that of a volley. You want to “feel” the ball up and over the net and keep the racket head up after contact. As you are taking speed off the ball, you want to be able to maneuver the racket head under the ball smoothly, but somewhat aggressively to create the spin. The feel of this shot and the follow through will take the most practice.

The recovery after the drop shot has been executed is very important. If this shot is not an outright winner, a player needs to be able to read the next shot from the opponent well in order to know where to move. Here’s some help. If your opponent is really hustling to even reach the ball, they will most likely not have much control of the shot and will pop the ball up. In this case, you want to follow your well-executed drop shot into the net and put the floating ball away that your opponent has hit.

If your opponent gets to the drop shot well, i.e. If they read the drop shot well or have very fast movement, you should recover back to the baseline and be ready to hit a passing shot or defend with a lob.

*It is important to note that the drop shot does not need to be an outright winner. It can cause the opponent to cover a lot of ground to even reach the ball, which over time can make them tired. Also, even if your opponent does reach the shot, they may be out of position for the next shot allowing you to find the opening in the court.