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The drop shot: The underrated weapon

The drop shot
By: Nick Bollettieri

As I watch tennis, especially at the highest levels of play, I have become a firm believer that the drop shot (the “sissy” shot, as some may call it) is one of the major weapons in today’s game.  No matter who is playing or whether it is the men or the ladies, the drop shot is being used as a big-time weapon.


I was watching Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal play recently, and I saw Federer hit seven drop shots in a row and win six of those seven points! The drop shot can be just as big of a weapon as the Bollettieri killer forehand, the Agassi backhand or the Ivo Karlovic supersonic serve.


No matter what level of play I observe or when I listen to players talk, most feel the only way to win is with power, and power only.  Players must have the ability to add specialty shots, like the drop shot at the correct time, which will then make your more effective weapons even stronger.


What is a Perfect Drop Shot?


A perfect drop shot goes over the net with a very small margin for error.  To be effective, the ball must have reverse under-spin and bounce at least two times before reaching the service line.  You do not hit a drop shot just for clear cut winners.


For example: your opponent has fantastic groundstrokes but fears coming to the net. This is the exact time to give them a different look and force them out of their comfort zone.  Having a balance and variety of shots, including touch and power, allow you to keep your opponent’s mind wondering what you will do next.


When and Why?


Powerful groundstrokes often force your opponent to fall back several feet behind the baseline. If you hit the ball harder and your opponent is able to still return it, it often results in the aggressor making unforced errors in trying to over-hit. This is the optimal time to hit a drop shot, which then keeps the opponent honest because if they move back too much they will not be able to retrieve the drop shot.  The drop shot will keep them guessing! 


It is not enough to just work your opponent side to side to create open court opportunities.  Learning to work deep and short combinations can add another dimension to your game.

Imagine being in a long rally from the baseline, you are getting tired and frustrated, and decide to say enough of this I am going to smack the ball for a winner.  This may work a few times, but what if your opponent is more determined than you and covers the court with the mindset that they can get whatever you hit at them? I guarantee your results will, for the most part, be less than stellar. This is the perfect opportunity to hit the drop shot rather than trying to overpower your opponent.


In today’s game, you must have a drop shot.  Just as a quarterback uses different formations and plays to confuse opponents, the drop shot does the same.

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