Drop shot in tennis: 5 ingenious methods for a dreaded drop shot

The slip track on the fart-dry sand court provided the proof.

Almost 70 cm long. The cloud of dust fled towards the audience.

With your hitting arm outstretched, you could still get to the drop shot with the top edge of your racket .

You dug it up, somehow muddled over the edge of the net.

But that’s it.

Half the balancing act, which you can only do on the court, was useless.

Your opponent only needed to push the ball into the open field. You lost the point after a big fight.

If we look at modern tennis, we don’t just miss Roger Federer. It lacks the joke, the cheeky. A cleverly thrown in drop shot can be such a cheeky joke.

In this article, we’ll look at when to throw in a Drop Shot and how to play it. After this article you will be able to assess game situations, vary your baseline game and play stops that earn you points.

Fancy making some enemies run ?

Then let’s start.

1) Where to stand when drop shoting
Do you know that?

If you are flat during the rally, then you play a drop shot for tactical reasons .

He is the solution when there are no other solutions. It’s a shame because the stop is a fantastic shot – when you know it’s coming. I used to make countless attempts to stop when I was stuck somewhere behind the fence and wanted to end the rally abruptly.

The result?


What hardly any trainer had told me before, I’ll show you now.

Make your stop when you are in the field. You should at least stand on the baseline. This requires a little experience and game overview. It’s nice that you can train your game overview wonderfully by paying attention to where you are on the field with your shots in the future.

I drew you a proposal:

stoppball position
You will see a yellow area in the graph.

This area is ideal for you to play a drop shot.

Important NOTE:

I recommend that your opponent’s ball should come towards you as slowly as possible and with little rotation. It’s not easy to play a controlled stop on a slice or a huge forehand topspin .
You need a lot of self-confidence (you get that through mental training ) and a feel for the ball.

There are three rational reasons why you should play the dropshot standing in the field:

Your drop shot isn’t in the air for too long
Your opponent has less time to run effortlessly
You don’t have to play it too perfectly
Before you start worrying about precision, or about grip position, or other not-so-important elements, consider:

1) “Am I in the field?”


2) “Am I too far behind the baseline?”

If you haven’t been a feared drop shot player before, then these two crucial questions may have caused it. Roger Federer was a very good example of controlled stopping. Well, he mostly played the shot with his forehand when he suddenly shortened his backswing and played a stopper.

But that’s all it needed. His position was usually so good that this shot was exactly the right variation in the respective game situation.

If you are in the right position, then we can go straight to the second step.

We will now consider how you play a drop shot that is difficult for your opponent to walk to. To do this, we look at what extremely important characteristics your stop should have in the future so that you can score many great points with this shot variation.


Then let’s look now:

2) The drop shot against the running direction of the opponent
When I was a little tot with narrow shoulders and a tendency to lazily walk, someone said to me:

Marco, you don’t have to play a perfect stop that flips back onto your side and bounces over the net . Better see that your opponent has a long run to the stop. And if this walkway is not long, then the walkway should be complicated. That’s why it’s best to always play your stops against the running direction of your opponent.
I liked that.

I can stand relaxed in the field. My opponent runs and I get the point too.

How can you tell if you are really playing against the direction of your opponent?

From many conversations with players in mental coaching , I know that not every club player can always watch their opponent in the corner of their eye. In tight game situations, it is never easy to keep an eye on everything:

target of the next shot
Creative tips to train the sharpness of the corner of the eye are therefore useless.

We have to consider what automatisms our opponents have. What behaviors keep recurring?

And by that I don’t mean the chronic upset about one’s own mistakes.


A player who is on the backhand and takes his shot there will move towards the center of the court after this shot. Does he do this quickly, with cross-steps and side-steps?

We do not know that.

However, we have to assume that it will move towards the middle at some speed. Every tennis player gets this drummed into them by their coach from day one. This information is anchored so extremely in the subconscious that as a player you can hardly defend yourself against it.

Unless you’re as lazy as I used to be.

What does that mean for your drop shot ?

If your opponent is in the backhand corner, then you can play your stop into that exact backhand side.

See grafic:

stop against the run
You can save the following formula for your head:

I play the stop in the direction the ball came from!
You now know where to stand and where to place a clever dropshot. In the next step we consider how you can place your drop shot.

To do this, we consider what the strategic goal of your drop shot can be – and what not. Should the stop get you straight to the point?

Or are there other very important strategic goals that a stop can achieve for you?

We continue.

Reading tip: The Masalo cuff for tennis elbow

3) The Mystery of the Empty Bottle
The joke about me was more than 20 years ago, but I can still remember it:

Bold, you move like empty bottle!
Today I use this joke to explain the correct application of the stop to my protégés in mental coaching.

I believe that a stop does not always have to result in a point. A stop was also successful if your opponent had to run a long way.

If you repeatedly push your opponent forward with clever stops during the course of a match, then he moves with the big points at the end of the sentence or matches like I did back then:

“Like empty bottle!”.

We know that condition is always concentration somewhere .

There are few players who park their ego in the parking lot with their car before a match. Many players take the ego onto the court and want to run for every ball that seems possible. They can’t stand to stand at the baseline and swallow a point against them as ordered and unpicked.

How do you get your opponent to chase after each of your stops and not directly say: “You can fuck me!”?

Here’s a little cheat sheet for setting up your drop shot:

Play the ball higher over the net, about one club length up
Giving slice to the ball . Side twist or undercut
Stroke the ball from below with the covering
Lead the ball, don’t hit it
You played the stop.

How can you act afterwards? where should you run Or do you just stand still?

4) Where can you run to after your drop shot?
The striker runs towards the goalkeeper.

Half the pub rabbles, standing, with a 0.3 beer glass in their hands, swaying:

Eyyy, he has to do that, n’ 100%!
Two seconds later, the striker is being insulted with words that Google will penalize me for if I write them down here.

Why are these 100% so difficult for the striker to convert? The goalkeeper shortens the angle by running straight towards the striker. The striker has little space to push the ball past the almost oversized goalkeeper.

Exactly this is your goal after playing your stop.

You run towards the opponent, you follow your ball forward – and shorten the angles for your opponent. If you decide to stay in the half field, your opponent has a free choice:

Stopball Store
Your opponent has many options to make them look stupid:

counter stop
Push long into the forehand
Push long into the backhand
If you stubbornly follow your ball forward, you take away all these options.

See this graphic:

Tennis Stop Shop
I’ve brought forward the yellow area, your position.

You see that you cover all black arrows, your opponent’s options. Your following the stop makes the angles disappear for the opponent.

Important NOTE:

Don’t run forward like a maniac. You will probably have to play another ball after playing the stop. You don’t want to run into the next shot and lose control. I recommend small, brisk steps and a look at the opponent to be able to better assess the next game situation.
You have now received a lot of input.

Time to philosophize.

5) The Secret of Flavoring Drop Shot
How does your opponent feel when he runs forward?

What’s on his mind when he’s on his way to your drop shot?

We can assume that the thought paths are short in these hot phases. Your opponent will roll over where he can lob the ball if he can still reach it well. So we discussed a little above following your ball forward and keeping your opponent’s options small.

To make your stop even more effective, you can give it a special flavor. I recommend that you give your dropshot rotation. Your ball should change direction when it taps into opponent’s court.

Your opponent may know that you gave your ball a “spicy secret”. We analyzed a few lines above that this spice probably doesn’t play too much of a role in your opponent’s mind.

It’s a small element, but a cut stop is definitely more effective than a ball that’s just pushed.

The ball can change in two directions when you give it a spin:

to the side
I recommend playing the stop in such a way that it rotates backwards when you bounce. The meaning behind it is rationally easy to explain:

The ball keeps spinning towards the net. The angle for your opponent to lift the ball over the edge of the net becomes even steeper. Often the only option left to the player is to lift the felt ball. The result is a slow, harmless, mid-high ball that you just have to push down the open court.

Similar to the game situation I presented at the beginning of this article.

What I have to tell you about this:

This is the ideal game scene. She shouldn’t be your goal. It is important for your stop that you can easily complete the point with the shot after your dropshot. Your goal with your stop is not to get the point straight away.

Recommended reading: Serve: 18 Timeless Ways to Serve Great (+ 3 Strategies for Better Rates)

Why setting the drop shot high is utter nonsense – and how you should play instead
“Marco, you have to place the stop ball high. And play with a backspin”.

I was already asking myself during the training at that time, on a very hot summer day on court 1 of our quite nice tennis facility in a park, why the hell I should put the drop ball high.

So I’m guaranteed to lose the point?!

But my coach at the time had a different opinion:

“This way you play the stop more safely. Your opponent will definitely start running and try to hit the stop. This is how he continues to lose condition!”

Let’s take a closer look at this really difficult shot, which is only suitable in certain game situations. At what point in time a drop shot is appropriate is not of interest to us in this article. At this point we are much more interested in HOW we should play the stop if we play it.

High? Flat? How now?

In my example above, my trainer said to set the stop high. As a result, the shot, the ball, automatically becomes slower and a bit more controlled. So we have a little more control over our drop shot.

Now comes the big thing, the first BUT: If we can’t perfectly hide our “short” with our backswing, our opponent will prick up his ears.

He’ll be able to see what we’re up to next with a reasonably good eye. If we also set our stop high, what will happen then?!

Sure: Our opponent starts early. We play a maybe very good drop shot. Due to the high attack, our opponent has enough time to get the ball. And not only that. He will probably still be able to play it above the edge of the net. Or abapp below. The probability that we win the point? vanishingly small.

On the contrary. We can even get a big disadvantage in this way. Exactly when the opponent gets the opportunity to play the ball ABOVE the edge of the net.

Why is this?

Look: the angle from the ball to the net is crucial. If the opponent has to play the ball below the edge of the net, the angle is more extreme. The opponent can only push the ball over. However, if our opponent gets the opportunity to play the ball above the edge of the net, he can actually hit the ball. Our opponent has a lot more options. He can even hit the ball with topspin from the back.

We should definitely avoid this. The goal of your stop does not have to be the direct point. You should aim much more for your opponent to have to play a difficult ball below the edge of the net.

Let’s continue…

Ideal hide and seek
But it is not the approach of our “short” that is decisive as to whether it will be good or bad. The big secret is to hide the stop so well that our opponent can’t guess what’s coming.

What’s the best way to do this? Through training! The aim must be to train our backswing for the stops. It is important that we carry out our “normal” backswing movement for as long as possible.

Only in the last section of our stroke movement, just before we hit the ball, do we have to skilfully and quickly shorten our backswing movement.

On the forehand as well as on the backhand side.

In order to play the drop shot as controlled as possible, we should change our grip a little bit in this fast movement. With the topspin grip, the level of difficulty for a stop becomes a lot higher ????

In the “short” we should use the grip for the slice on both sides, forehand and backhand. This gives us more control when hitting the ball. In addition, we can give our stop a small but perhaps decisive cut.

Conclusion: For an ideal stop, we should NOT set this too high. The goal should be to finish the point with the drop shot. Not to weaken the opponent’s condition. We should play our “short” sensitively with the slice-like grip to have better control when executing this difficult shot.

With a bit of cut and feel we can then play an ideal stop.

When the drop shot was in the newspaper yesterday
A drop shot, which the opponent ran without any problems, was already in the newspaper yesterday.

This appropriate analogy is mostly used when the backswing shows that you want to surprise your opponent with a short shot.

There may be many tips and tricks to cover up that “yesterday’s newspaper article”. At this point I would like to pass on the quick tip that used to help me to play passable drop shots.

I like it practical and short:

Swing normally, then switch to backhand grip and wrap the ball from below.
You got it right. In this example I meant the forehand. With the backhand, ideally you’re already at the backhand grip .

What is the background of this method?

Your opponent sees you from the front – if he even has you in the corner of his eye. If you swing back exactly as you would with your normal forehand, you can then start to trick and use the “short” one.

You don’t have to hide your entire movement from your opponent. It’s enough if he notices at first that you want to play a “normal” forehand. Practice this method in training games. You’ll feel more comfortable with it from stop to stop.

We’re keeping the conclusion short and to the point so you can take with you the crucial tools for that dreaded drop shot.

We learnt:

Stand in the field if you want to play a stop
Your opponent should have a long or complicated run to the stop – preferably both
Play against the running direction of the opponent
Play the stop in the direction the opponent’s ball came from
Follow your ball forward without going too fast
A stop does not have to be the direct point, it can be the preparation for the point
Give your stop cut so that your opponent has to solve another task
If you throw in stops throughout a match, you may have an advantage in terms of big points

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