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The Drop Shot: How to Hit It

How to hit the drop shot
By: Nick Bollettieri

In my last column I explained what a perfect drop shot is and when and why to use the drop shot. After watching many hours of the 2011 Australian Open (I slept about three hours a night), it became even more apparent to me how important the drop shot is. Each and every match the players would have killer groundstrokes, sonic serves, and great movement. Where was the drop shot? Some used it effectively and some struggled with it. I will give you a couple of simple tips on how to hit the perfect drop shot.




The grip can differ per individual. Some will use the same grip they had for their forehands and backhands and some will change. A former student of mine, Jim Courier, used the same grip (semiwestern) for his forehand that he used for his famous drop shot and his swing pattern was also the same. I would say the majority of players will use the Continental or Eastern Backhand grip.


Preparation & Swing


To disguise, you should use the very same backswing for both the drop shot and the slice.  When hitting the drop shot, use less follow through and more spin. Not only do you want the swing motion to be the same, but also the footwork.  Once again, repeat the same footwork you use in hitting aggressive shots.




A strong foundation to ensure better balance will add more control to your shot.  Relax your front knee so that you can hit your shot.  Stay relaxed and get down to the height of the ball when hitting the shot.


Nick’s Note:  It is imperative you capture the key element of the drop shot.  Disguise, disguise, disguise!  You will be successful with the drop shot when your opponent is thinking you will hit deep groundstrokes, high rollers, angles, or going for winners. Tommy Haas once asked me when he should come to the net.  My answer was very simple; come in all the time and through trial and error you will learn when to hit the drop shot.  Do not be discouraged in the beginning if your opponent runs down all your drop shots.  In time, you will get the feeling of the drop shot by repetition and it will become a more natural shot for you.


Experts say you can accurately judge depth perception only up to 15 or 20 feet.  Therefore, you can use the direction you hit the ball to further the disguise. For example, suppose a car is some distance away and traveling towards you in a straight line.  How close must it get to you before you can estimate its speed?


In the same situation, if you were to change your position to the side of the road, could you better judge the speed of the car?  This situation provides the best perspective for your depth perception and for determining the speed of the car.


Now, how can we apply this to disguising a drop shot? Let’s say you have your opponent on the run and them pushed back behind the baseline…a perfect time to hit the drop shot, now where do you hit it? A drop shot hit directly at your opponent will make it more difficult for them to read the distance and speed than a drop shot hit away from your opponent. Next time you are on the court try this out and I guarantee you will have success!


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