Drop Shots in Tennis
If used effectively during a tennis match, drop shots can be an extremely beneficial tactic on the court.
At many points during the game, hitting a drop shot tennis is a good idea because it goes just over the net making it very hard to return and winning you the point.
If you can play it fast enough, the opponent won’t be able to hit it back.
Even if they manage to hit it, you will have the back and mid-court space available to exploit, maximizing your chances of comfortable hitting it back and winning that point .
However, good timing differentiates between a successful and an unsuccessful drop shot.
The ideal scenario would be a flawlessly executed drop shot; if it’s used when you are out of position, it may turn out to be an error whereby an easy short ball will be delivered to the opponent instead.
If you are struggling to truly master the drop shot, this article will help improve technique, offering guidance on how to learn to hit the perfect drop shot in tennis with ease and efficiency .
Table of Contents
What is a Drop Shot in Tennis?
A drop shot occurs when the ball is hit very softly over the net, resulting in it landing short in the court.
The ideal time to hit a drop shot is when your opponent is out of position or standing somewhere back, behind the baseline.
A good drop shot tennis is one that barely lands over the net, meaning that the opponent is unable to run towards the net to hit it in time before it bounces twice 😍.
👉 A fantastic example of two very good, effective drop shots by two of the most world-renowned professional players can be found at the following link:
How Do You do a Drop Shot?
The drop shot can be lethal if delivered at the right time and with great precision.
A perfect or well-timed drop shot occurs when the ball is hit over the net, so it lands in the opponent’s court, to the extent where the opponent finds it difficult to get there in time to hit it back 😊.
👉 Here are some important points to help you learn the technique of hitting a drop shot tennis:
#2. Swing Path
It is worth noting a drop shot’s swing path is very much like a slice.
However, the backswing of a drop shot is relatively shorter. You may open the racket’s head and swing under the bell to hit a softer shot with a better feel.
This technique allows the ball to have sidespin and backspin, resulting in it bouncing away from the opponent upon contact with the ground ✌️.
Best Tips for Perfecting your Drop Shot Technique
The ball shouldn’t go low over the net; up to four feet over the net is perfect.
The vital thing to note is the ball should fall before or at the exact time it gets to the net to allow it to have the second bounce with backspin.
This way, the ball will stay closer to the net 😊.
The technique will also help you disguise the shot since the opponent won’t anticipate that the ball will fall short.
When you hit low over the net, your opponent will immediately start coming in, and the ball’s second bounce will be much deeper.
👉 The following video will demonstrate Roger Federer hitting a drop shot tennis, which is known as one of his best moves on the court:
It’s essential that the drop shot is a winner. To ensure this, the shot should be executed to get your opponent out of their comfort zone.
You are aiming for perfect placement of the ball to cause it to go just over the net.
Cross-court drop shots are undoubtedly devastating for your opponents.
However, such attempts usually result in errors. Let your mind accurately estimate the distance between you and the net while hitting straight-head 😍.
For cross-court hits, the net will get farther and farther away from you.
If you lose a point due to miscalculated drop shot or miss it somehow, don’t panic.
Pause and think about what you can change to make it more effective the next time.
How to Use the Continental Grip for the Drop Shot?
The Continental Grip offers a perfect grip and swing path, making for an effective drop shot.
A drop shot should also be hit with backspin to make the bounce unpredictable and difficult for your opponent to manage.
The Continental Grip is ideal for achieving this, as it tilts the racket back on both the backhand and forehand sides ✌️.
Moreover, the striker should remain well inside the baseline before attempting a drop shot.
The best time to hit a drop shot is against a weak second serve.
When hitting the drop shot, the Continental Grip will allow the ball to be hit in front while maximizing spin and placement control.
To hit it, shorten your backswing, open the racket face, and swing under the ball.
If you are already familiar with a good forehand or backhand slice, this won’t be particularly difficult since their swing paths are quite similar to that of a drop shot tennis 😊.
However, compared to a standard slice, the drop shot features a much shorter backswing.
Big backswings allow for more power, whereas short backswings allow the ball to be hit more softly.
Opening up the racket face a bit more when making contact and coming under and slightly across the ball will allow the ball to spin backward and slightly sideways, spinning away from your opponent after landing.
How to Disguise the Drop Shot in Tennis?
To prevent your opponent from detecting or anticipating a drop shot, it’s a good idea to fake a normal topspin groundstroke, as this is the best disguise.
There should be a quick switch from the Topspin Grip to the Continental Grip, a useful technique on both backhand and forehand shots.
For example, Novak Djokovich has the unique ability to disguise drop shots on his backhand side, while Nick Kyrgios can immaculately disguise forehand drop shots.
👉 The following video demonstrates how Kyrgios swings like a normal backhand to effectively hide the drop shot:
When Should you Hit a Drop Shot?
#1. When the opponent is out of position:
It is comparatively easy for the opponent to get out of position during rallies, especially if they are getting slow or feeling tired.
If this is the case, the drop shot will prove to be a viable strategy at every level, from beginner to intermediate, advanced, and professional 😍.
For example, late in a third set, the drop shot tennis will serve as a useful tool because your opponent won’t be as fresh as in the first two sets of the match.
#2. When your opponent prefers the baseline to the net:
Even at collegiate level, many singles players stay away from the net unless forced to get inside the court because they like to rally from the baseline.
So, it’s crucial to draw your opponents out of their comfort zone. Drop shots or short slices are the best options to do this.
👉 Watch how easily Federer brings his opponent Tomas Berdych out of his comfort zone through a drop shot:
#3. When you are hitting with power:
A drop shot tennis is most effective during multiple periods of rallies.
However, it’s essential to catch your opponent at a time when they least expect it, like when they have become accustomed to rallying with power from the baseline 😊.
👉 Watch how Nick Kyrgios catches his opponent Illya Marchenko off guard at the 2016 US Open:
#4. When you need to approach the net:
By using a drop shot, it’s possible to force the opponent to play at the net even if they aren’t comfortable there.
A drop shot tennis is ideal for bringing the player up close to the net because the most common response is to hit another short or soft shot.
Many players hit the drop shot and quickly move into the net behind.
So, you can use the drop shot as an approach shot to gain positioning in the court and get ready for the next ball 😍.
You will be at the net and narrow down your opponent’s shot selection by taking away some of their angles.
When Not to Hit the Drop Shot?
#1. When Out of Position:
Never use a drop shot when you are out of position.
Just like the best time to hit the drop shot is when your opponent is out of position, the worst time to hit is when you are out of position.
Balance, focus, and technique are fundamental to hitting a good drop shot 😊.
#2. Too often:
It is better to use the drop shot tennis sparingly.
Hitting them too often will result in your opponent anticipating it and attacking the short ball quickly.
Out-of-position drop shots are risky even for the most outstanding players like Roger Federer.
Using it too much can make it predictable for your opponent, and when they start anticipating it, they will quickly figure out how to play it, making you lose your advantage 😍.
How to Defend Against a Drop Shot?
For singles players, it is imperative to recognize a drop shot tennis and quickly defend against it.
👉 The following tips will help you counter the drop shop well:
#1. Play the Ball a Little Deeper
You will see all kinds of spectacular counter drop shots on an ATP tour, but there is always the risk it could be a hit-and-miss case.
So, statistically, your best option is to play the ball much deeper down the line so that you could cover the net. This trick will put you in a good position at the net ✌️.
#2. Play Cross-Court
If you believe you can finish the point and cannot cover the net well, a cross-court drop shot will be an ideal option, as it will leave too much of the line open.
But if you don’t finish the point while hitting a cross-court shot, you will most likely pass down the line.
If you believe you can get to the drop shot well and finish the point by hitting the ball cross-court, go for it.
The rule of thumb is if you hit the drop shot tennis early enough, you can hit the ball above the net’s height and then play it cross-court and finish the point.
Conversely, if hitting the ball below the net’s height, it would be better to push the ball deep down the line and prepare for one more hit at the net, like an overhead or volley 😊.
#3. Go for a Counter Drop Shot
If you reach the opponent’s drop shot conveniently, a counter drop shot will be a great option, provided that you aren’t still running or at full stretch.
Accuracy relies on the position; if you are in a difficult position, accuracy will be lost.
If you opt for a counter drop shot, do ensure your eyes are glued to the ball, as you will have to hit it with precision.
A counter drop shot tennis is like a double-edged sword. You may immediately lose the point if you don’t execute it well.
👉 Watch Novak Djokovic’s drop shots to learn how to hit one and return it effortlessly:
#4. Choose a Down-The-Line or a Quick Cross if Your Opponent Moves in
If you are the one who has played the first drop shot, it is possible to follow it into the net because you are expecting a weak response.
If this doesn’t happen, you most likely will get past or won’t have enough reaction time.
To quickly move in after a drop shot, you need excellent perception and volley skills for its execution 😍.
However, if you are on the receiving end and your opponent moves in after hitting the drop shot, you can either reach the ball comfortably to play a fast passing shot or play a low ball down-the-line 😊 if you reach the ball below the net height.
What to Do After Hitting the Drop Shot?
You should move inside the baseline, a bit cross-court to protect against the re-drop or prevent an angle put-away.
If you can get the racket on an angle, you will benefit from the drop shot tennis the most ✌️.
If your opponent manages to go down the line, they will have to go over the net’s high part to the shortest amount of court left to have enough time to respond with a lob when the opponent is vulnerable.
By merely moving in slightly, you can get to a re-drop to tap the ball with an angle or down-the-line.
Recognizing Your Opponent's Drop Shot
You can easily differentiate between drop shots and slices by closely inspecting your opponent’s backswing. If their take-back is high, it will be a drop shot.
Since you want to take pace off the ball, the swing will probably look like a pendulum or a cup.
When the opponent aims to hit a hard slice, the swing will be much lower, and the ball will be driven in a straight line 😍.
How to Return a Drop Shot?
After you have learned to recognize your opponent’s drop shot, choosing what to do next is an important consideration.
Generally, players counter a drop shot simply by playing the ball deep up the line to cover most of the net.
However, a deep cross-court ball will allow your opponent to have more space to hit their shot into the open court or down-the-line.
Or else, you can play it back shot, much like a counter-drop shot, to return it as you are at the net and in a position to cover your opponent’s best options 😊. They won’t have the chance to play a short ball again.
How to Improve Your Drop Shot
If you don’t usually hit drop shots, it will be a superb strategy to add to your game.
A general rule is that the more strategies you use in tennis, the better capability you will have to handle different opponents.
All you need to do is practice your drop shots. You may play a practice match or use a ball machine to practice on your drop shot tennis.
👉 As a final overview, here are the top tips to keep in mind when practicing drop shots:
- Always opt for a Continental Grip
- Use a shorter backswing to swing your racket in a cupping motion under the ball.
- Fake a groundstroke to disguise your drop shot
- Never overdo the drop shot. Use it selectively
- Try experimenting with a drop shot as an approach shot too.
- Check out high take-backs to identify when your opponent might hit a drop shot.
This article has provided a full guide on the drop shot and how to execute one with accuracy 😊, precision, and flair.
Mastering this type of hit will really improve your level of play and can make for a very interesting, dynamic, and fun game.