Drop shot – use it effectively in modern tennis

Modern tennis is based on sheer power. Players strive for playing like their idols. They try to play aggressive from baseline and if they get short ball, the only idea is to ‘’rip it’’. Players cant be blamed because they see the same solutions on TV. Most of the pro competitors punish short balls in the same way so why young players shouldnt imitate them? Im not saying that ripping short ball is wrong idea. It is good solution because we can put pressure on opponent or straightly win the point. However, coaches have to strive for finding lost pieces of jigsaw. If we know that putting away is a good solution, why shouldnt we look for anything better?

Nowadays, players think only about the power when they are inside the baseline. It is good solution but only in some point. By playing only hard drives, we become predictable. Our opponents know what is coming and they can easily move couple steps back behind the baseline to gain some time for response. They are prepared for the same shot every time so they can respond with neutral shot or pass us if we come in. Drop shot can be solution for this one-dimensional attacking approach. By playing drop shot, our opponent is unsure what the response is. He/she doesnt know if the best defensive position is behind or close to the baseline. This uncertainty leads to worse shots, missed passing shots and broken confidence.

 Another reason why drop shot is really helpful is distance to run. As we all know, good drop shot can land 50 cm behind the net and it makes a great distance to cover. Players have to start with explosive steps and generate speed to get this ball. A lot of times, players will get this descending ball what makes it even harder because they have to hit it up. By playing couple of drop shot and lob combinations, we can break opponents stamina and confidence at one time. It will pay off not only in this point but also in winning next points by getting easy unforced errors.

Next advantage of this forgotten stroke is tactical approach. As we know, most of modern players are baseliners. They train only baseline skills so they are not familiar with net game. They feel comfortable further from the net because they have more time for response. Thats why we should add drop shot to our repertoire. By bringing baseliner to the net, we take him out of his comfort zone and our chances of winning point increase.

As we can see, drop shot can be a really powerful weapon. This little addition to your skills bag can result in winning more points with everybody. However, this article cant be finished without further explanation. These are only examples why we should use it. Next point of the same importance is tactical decision: When should we use it? In my opinion, there are 4 different situations when drop shot can help us. These 4 options are:

Short ball

This is a golden rule for using drop shot. Coaches teach to play drop shot from short balls because players have less time to react. Ball travels short time in the air so it is the most effective solution. As we know from first parts of this article, when we mix powerful drives with drop shots, our opponent will be confused about response, position etc.

Inside the baseline

Another tactical opportunity for playing drop shot is our position inside the baseline. When we are in offense, most of the time we are inside the court. Our opponent is in defense (behind the baseline) so we can easily play a good drop shot. This will result in shorter distance for ball and greater distance for opponent.

 

Behind the baseline

It is really risky option and I know why coaches forbid playing drop shots from this position. However, playing drop shot from this area can be useful in some exceptions. One example is when our opponent is really deep behind the baseline. By playing drop shot in this situation, ball has to travel longer (disadvantage) but opponent has to cover greater distance (advantage). Second exception is our opponents lack of net-game skills. If we play against typical baseliner or pusher, it is a good solution to bring him to the net. Our rival is not familiar with this area of the court so we can easily expect poor response.

 

Response to short angle shot

Personally, I have played with many players who consciously or unconsciously were able to play short angle slice. This stroke is perfectly performed by Roger Federer who makes life harder for every opponent. This stroke lands around intersection of service line and sideline and tends to curve behind the sideline. In this situation, we as a players responding to this stroke, are in a dangerous position. We are behind the sideline with zero chances on recovery to the baseline or coming in. In this situation, it is worthy to consider to play drop shot. It gives you a chance to win or stay in point. You can ask which direction is better in this response. Answer is not simple because it depends how far we are behind the baseline and how much risk we want to take. If we choose cross court drop shot, we would rather prefer staying in point. There is a big chance that our opponent will get to this ball but simultaneously, we can recover to the proper position inside the service box. However, by choosing down the line direction, we take more risk: we can directly win the point or opponent can easily play cross court winner. Decision is up to you so you have to decide based on your knowledge, position and opponents possibilities, what direction is the best.

 

In this article, I wanted to put a light on a forgotten weapon. It is a drop shot. It is a skill that will bring profits in all tennis eras. It doesnt matter if todays tennis is a baseline game or all-court activity. Drop shot is useful and we cant limit our options to just ripping. I hope this article will bring couple more drop shots on every court around the world and we will see more versatile game.