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Player to Player: Keys to a Drop Shot

September 28, 2012 03:23 PM
Real Tennis Players - Like You! - Asking For and Offering Advice on the Sport They Love  
Player to Player is USTA.com’s regular feature in which everyday tennis players are given a forum to ask advice on the sport they love – and their fellow players will dish out advice. We’ll post a number of the best responses we receive to our question of the week.
Player to Player:
This week's question from Peter:
My son is a competitive 13-year-old tennis player. Since his coach cannot attend most of his tournaments, I would like to be able to offer guidance on strategy and technique. Do you recommend any specific books or video that would help me become more knowledgeable?
Please share your thoughts by e-mailing Player@usta.com, and include your name and hometown.
Got a question of your own? Send that along, too!
Last week's question from Tiquan:
(Please note: There is no need to send additional responses to this question.)
I would like to receive some advice on how to hit a proper drop shot. My slice shot is fairly good, but when it comes to drop shots, I never can get any of them in.
Player Responses:
Coach Leonard, Walnut Creek, Calif.

I find that the simplest way to learn an effective drop shot is to focus on softening an approaching ball. By applying the right amount of slice, the ball will generate backspin, which will result in the ball dipping and ceasing forward movement on the bounce. The grip of choice would be a Continental grip. Eastern can work, but definitely not a Western grip.

To stabilize the body and concentrate on touch, I suggest practice while sitting in a chair at the center of the service box facing the net. Since the slice creates the backspin, set up the chair so that you are facing square to the net. The first step involves being able to simply be able to underspin a ball so that it goes vertical and lands back on the open racquet face. You want to get to the level in which you can keep the ball up in the air by constantly undercutting. Do this first with a self feed. Bounce the ball on the racquet side of the chair. This is similar to the old wooden paddle with the little red rubber ball connected with an elastic band. (Ask your grandparents.) 

Step 2 will have a feeder hand toss the ball from across the net. Again, try to maintain the vertical underspins. In step 3, place a plastic 30-gallon garbage can in front of the net. Off your partner's feed, slice the ball so that it drops into the can. The best way to get the proper drop action is to keep the feed low to force the ball to lift and drop. Step 4 will have you actually dropping the ball in the service boxes across the net. I like to use the USPTA on-court standard for drop shots. Make the ball bounce three times in the service boxes. Step 5 is the same as 4, minus the chair.

A common mistake in hitting drop shots is leaning back with the body. The correct procedure is to move forward and to let the slice soften the ball. Keep up the practice and eventually, it'll be like a "drop in the bucket." No big thing.

Kenny S., Chicago
The drop shot is a small swing on both the forehand and backhand, going under the ball a bit with a lot of touch. I kind of think of it as a wedge shot just off the green on a golf course. The drop shot is a tough shot and should be used when the other player is behind the baseline. A half-volley drop shot can also be very effective, but, like a volley, don't swing. Don't over-use the drop shot and don't get frustrated by hitting it too hard or soft and into the net. With practice and the correct form, you should be able to get this shot down.

Arvind V., Rockville, Md.

Keys to executing a drop shot are soft hands, shot disguise, recognition of opponent's position on court (use drops mainly when the opponent is behind or wide of the lines, for example), and, most importantly, to do it in non-critical points of the game. Do not try it on a break point, for example, as you may be more tentative with your feel then.

Terry S., Fort Worth, Texas

This will sound ridiculously simplistic but… hit with a high and deep enough trajectory to ensure the ball clears the net! Slices, in general, tend to be a low or short shot (that’s why we hit them), so when trying a drop shot, remember the ball has to first clear the net. The dropper may not be the winner, but it will at least produce a scrambling return by the opponent, allowing your next shot to end the point.
*Please note that any advice given out in this forum should in no way be confused with actual medical advice. Before starting any new exercise regimen or altering your existing one, we strongly urge you to consult with your regular physician.
Click here for USTA.com's Player to Player Archive.


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