Written by Ian Westermann
Drop Shot — 22 January 2015
Top Drop Shot Tip

Do you struggle hitting an effective drop shot consistently?

Most players do and in my experience it’s due to people thinking that they need a TON of spin to hit a solid dropper.

That isn’t true!

If you simplify things like I suggest in this video and rely on your grip pressure to soften things up instead of a big chop I can promise you more consistency.

Comments? Questions? Leave them below. Thanks for watching!

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  1. Ian, I agree with softening your grip for the drop shot, but I think there's another tip that can make it even more consistent, more effective, and impart backspin naturally. It also reduces the problem of adjusting to balls coming with varying pace and path. In your video you were working with similar balls from a ball machine, but in real play you get much more variety and need to adjust to that.

    If you contact the ball early, as soon as possible after it bounces, you can take advantage of the energy in the ball and convert that energy naturally into backspin without chopping at it or having to adjust your shot to the incoming ball. It's very easy to do.

    If you lower your body, as Fonz suggests, and meet the ball with a soft, continental grip and slightly open racquet face in front of you, you hit a ball that bounces sooner, lower, and that dies because of the backspin. The biggest challenge is to avoid trying to make the shot better than you need to and netting it.

  2. good tip
    Thank you

  3. Ian, I loved that. I love all your videos. I am now 78 hears old, live in a tennis club and p[lay every single day( sometimes twice. I don't have slice or , of course – a drop shot , but I think I could try the "soft, relaxed approach to it. I cant wait to get out and try. Thank you so much. I used to be a teacher, so i recognize good teaching Mairead Devonshire Fort Lauderdale

  4. Why don't you emphasize lowering your entire body as you hit the stroke so it doesn't bounce high after it drops , giving it more time for opponent to hit back ? In your video the ball bounces very high after it bounces ?

  5. Yes dont chop! I often use the velocity of my oppositions shots to drop shot merely by just touching and scooping the ball back over. And even at my nothing level I am known for them! Really annoyingly good if I say so myself, if someone says or gets rattled by them, I say its part of my game so dont let me do them!!!

  6. I like your video about kick serve. Thanks

  7. I like it—good advice. I watched you hit 3 shots (the right way) and they landed almost exactly in the same spot.
    And drop shots from the service line are tricky. Thanks for the good advice.
    Newt Harband
    Member of Marin Tennis Club
    SanRafael, CA

  8. Thank you Ian – this simple but profound piece of coaching has had a fantastically positive effect on my drop shops……..just like the 'There Is No Ball' lesson had on my ground-strokes…..really grateful. Have a great weekend.

  9. Thanks for your review of the drop shot. In the video you showed the backhand drop shot but did not discuss the forehand drop shot which can just as important as the backhand.

  10. I have much trouble doing drop shots and do exactly what you said about chopping down and missing much more than I get so I'll try this method but it seems like it would be hard to get a feel for hitting so soft. I guess I'll just have to practice it. Thanks

  11. I frequently find my self jammed on my 2 handed back hand shot, why?

  12. Hey Ian – Thanks for an alternative to a difficult shot, but it raises a key question: what is it about the attempt to add backspin that makes that drop shot much more inconsistent than absorbing pace shot you suggest?

    In other words what are the keys to hitting an effective drop shot with backspin?

    Thanks again
    Jeff

  13. I love drop shots!!! I wasn't consistent and am looking forward to practicing your method as soon as I get over my plantar fasciitis. Thanks so much for sharing.

    Joyce

  14. I have had difficulty learning the drop shot. The last time I play with my pro he emphasized moving around the ball, think inside out and then dragging my back foot, taking the energy of the ball into my body. I don't know if that makes sense, but it worked REALLY well. I could get the ball to just die after only a few tries. Now I just need to think of using it more often.

  15. Your video is fine as it goes. But you missed a key element of the drop-shot–the important element of surprise. Separate from the stroke technique is the ability to disguise the shot. This is particularly important at the club player level,because most players telegraph their drop-shots.
    Watching the professionals you see there are a variety of stroke techniques, the best being those strokes that don't even look like a drop-shot, until the ball is hit. One example, Cepelova in the recent Family Circle Cup. She was hitting drop-shots, from what seemed defensive strokes, slices hit well above her shoulders, and they were killers. Other players disguise the drop-shot by just changing the angle of the face of the racquet at the last moment.

    So in summary, one has to figure a way not to telegraph the drop-shot, because the ball is going slow, and tennis players can be quick to get to the ball if they can anticipate the shot. Deal with this issue in your next drop-shot videos. Thank you.

    • Here is a thought, turn your thinking around, disguise your full shot. Instead of ripping into it from the start, start with exactly the same relaxed move but accelerate into the ball on your regular shot. Then there will never be a need to disguise anything because they will both start the same.

  16. perjaps a lesson on playing against/for a left-hander!! Show advanntages or disadvantages vs a leftie!!

  17. Thanks Ian, cool video. I love the drop shot, especially on the BH side. The great thing about it is that the prep is the same as a BH slice, which is my go-to shot when approaching the net, so the opponent can never pick up what I'm doing until I actually hit the ball. I ought to hit this shot more often – it kind of feels like cheating.

  18. Ian,
    I have to agree with several people here (especially Robert). The surprising thing about a good drop shot is how HIGH it should be hit. I have found that at the Rec level, most people hit drop shots low, barely clearing the net because they want to get it to the ground fast, but that leads to 2 bad things:
    1) The ball will bounce its second time fairly deep (often over the service line) which actually give the opponent much less ground to cover to get there.
    2) The shot will sometimes not clear the net and you have an unforced error.

    The pros hit the drop shots MUCH higher, maybe 8-10 feet off the ground (you tell me?) which helps it land short with plenty net clearance. That feels scary since you think the opponent will have the time to get there, but making them run the extra distance more than makes up for the split second longer the ball is in the air.

    Two quick surprising geometry observations about a tennis court:
    1) The court is MUCH longer than it is wide. When playing, we often move opponents left and right, but not forward and back. Because of our perspective, there is an optical illusion. In fact, on EACH side of the net, the singles court is only 27 feet wide, but 39 feet deep. Drop shots can be deadly.

    2) The net is a huge obstacle. A 6 foot tall man, standing on the baseline sees 100% of the opponents court through the net, not over it. Maybe you could make a video, or people could try this at home: Take a sheet or tarp and lay it over the net so that you can't see through it. Now practice serves, volleys, ground stokes and drop shots and watch unforced errors plummet with the realization of how huge this obstacle really is.

  19. Thanks Ian. I am one of those that chops down hard on the dropshot. I only play the shot on the backhand side and only when the opponents ball has a reasonable amount of pace. Hence not many opportunities to play the shot. Will try your preference. After many years of tennis it is great to get the chance to improve my consistency.

  20. Why are drop shots always demonstrated with a backhand shot! I have a great natural forehand drop shot! I've been told by opponents that they can't tell whether I'm going to hit a forehand groundstroke, whether a topspin or slice, and they don't expect the drop shot. This makes them start for it late, that adds to its effectiveness because my shot doesn't have to be great to be a winner! May I suggest a future video lesson on how to hit forehand drop shots, from both near and far from the net; and also how to hit drop shots off hard hit balls. The techniques required, and racket motions necessary vary greatly depending upon the speed of the ball and the distance from the net! In my opinion, a good reliable drop shot is a very effective tool that can produce winners, winners on returns of the shot that are often very poor returns; and that also makes your opponent run harder, more, and tire faster during the match!

    • In addition, I consider both drop shots and topspin lobs to be greatly under utilized, and not practiced enough by players at all levels, including top pros! The drop shot, topspin lob 1-2 punch combination is an unbeatable strategy, that is beautiful to see, but rarely employed! A lesson on the proper technique for topspin lobs of a fast ball at the baseline would also be a great lesson! Essentially, as an example; when returning a low fast ball at the baseline, using an eastern forehand grip for a forehand lob, hit it hard and follow through behind your head! The result is an amazing fast topspin lob that no one can defend! It literally dives into the court from on high; but not that high! Another tip is to aim to the baseline but near the sidelines because it gives extra length of court for the ball to fall inside the lines!

    • I completely agree with Joel. I think this has been a great lesson Ian, but it is the forehand drop shot that gives me problems. Curiously, I find the "chop" much easier to control on the backhand side. I especially have problems when I have to run fast to get a ball that is short. I know I try to give too much "chop" on the forehand and I float them out over and over.

  21. I learned a lot about the drop shot from your podcast on the subject some time back, and the shot has become a strong part of my game. Later I had an important 'ah-ha' moment when watching an ATP match from a players' shoulder height perspective and suddenly realized how high the ball travels on it. I think players who are too focused on spinning the ball excessively are trying to counter the effects of a shot with too low a trajectory. For myself, I get in trouble with it when the racket path is too much back to front, in relation to high to low — and that includes the momentum produced by moving forward.

  22. Hi Ian,
    As usual great instruction, 2 points the grip should be a Continental or there about, and the higher the ball goes over the net the more time your opponent has to get to the ball!, ,and 1 more point after hitting the drop shot its a good idea to go to the net assuming you are mid court , Regards Clem Piako Tennis NZ.

  23. Love your videos. I did notice that you take suggestions so I have one that I would just love you to address. Many rallies end with a short ball and you rush in to finish the point only to drive it into the net or hitting it long. What's the proper way to hit these short, usually high bouncing balls?

  24. LOVE your teaching videos, and the drop shot is the one shot I REALLY want to have in my repertoire. This was a great video, but I noticed you only showed up now to do it with a one handed backhand. As much as I wish I had one of those, I don't. I'm assuming the same technique works with my forehand…but if not, can you please do a video showing us that???
    Atlanta, GA

  25. How about drop shots from the base line or close? Thanks.

  26. What makes the "gentle drop" work best for me is to move thru it with a soft slice touch, letting my body movement help push the ball over the net. In part this is because my old eyes don't see the ball all that precisely, and the forward movement helps catch the ball in the sweet soft spot for a good soft drop shot.

    I also do the heavy spin drop shot, but I don't worry too much about getting it short — rather I see it as a variant of a deep slice that frequently catches opponents off guard with a different spin than a driving slice. Ideally, it's flight pattern is vaguely similar to a driving slice. As noted, consistency can be an issue — it's very sensitive to string wear and tension. Pro's who have regularly new (textured) strings may make this shot look easy. However that may be related to how they aren't using worn out string beds that are months old like many rec players.

  27. What about a forehand drop shot?

  28. hey Ian great key points there to relax the wrist
    Giuseppe

  29. Very helpful, Thanks

  30. I always felt that the value of the big draw back on the drop shot was the threatening nature of it. When hit a high short floating ball lifting your racket up indicates that you are going to flatten the ball out, lean into it, take some of the topspin off, and strike the ball downward. Then you take off your left hand and hit your drop shot. Thus I pull my racket back fairly high and beside me and then swing my racket fairly fast to make contact in front of me. However, I usually choose to contact more on one side of the ball so I have control over the depth and get a lot of side spin rather than backspin.

    I definitely agree that you need to have soft hands when you hit it. Even if you do a video on how to hit a drop shot that comes back over the net make sure to be clear that it is only useful in singles. I have hit such a shot in doubles only to have the volleying opponent reach over the net and hit the ball back into the net winning the point. This is the one time that one can make contact on the far side of the net. A singles player can't usually do this because he would run into the net, but the volleying doubles player can move sideways reach over and win the point. A good drop shot with side spin forces the volleying player to hit a really tough half volley or let the back player try to get it an can lead to confusion.

    I don't think that I have seen a podcast about different ways to bring your opponents to the net in doubles. At a higher level this is probably not usually effective, but even in high school varsity tennis in Michigan I have found that my opponents are often more natural at the baseline.

    Thanks for your videos and pod casts.

  31. When is a good time to drop shot and where should you be….behind the baseline, half court, approaching a mid court shot? And what about clearance? How much clearance?

  32. Thanks Ian , loved the forehand analysis video , can we have one on the one handed backhand and slice backhand please , love these short tips , one a day would be good!

  33. I've been improving my serve amazingly after studying your videos. However, I'm missing one thing: which points in the ball should I try to hit when serving? some sites suggest targets as 2 o'clock or the face of the ball but these are too vague tips for practical use; thanks for your coaching and congratulations for the high quality of your teachings [the best, ever – by the way, I'm 76 and have attended a lot of tennis camps and watched dozens of videos on tennis instructions]

  34. thanks always enjoy this short helpful tips.

  35. The most important hing I have learned about the drop shot is to get the height of the ball on your side of the net so it will fall within 2 or 3 feet from the net on the opponents side. If it lands in the middle of the service box, you are in trouble.

  36. Ian – great tip! I will try it on the court today.