Defending against the Drop Shot

Defending the Drop shot: You’re playing a singles match and having a great baseline rally. Then, “out of nowhere,” your opponent ruins it by throwing in a drop shot for a winner. What do you do?

Yesterday I happened to play Jim Landin for the first time. Jim is currently ranked #9 in the nation in men’s 70’s singles and is infamous for his killer drop shots.

So when we started to play this practice match, I said to him, “I can play for an hour and a half or till you hit 50 drop shots – which ever comes first!” While I was joking about the ‘limit’ on his drop shots, I would guess he hit over 30 against me during our hour and a half of play.

The real challenge with this opponent is that he primarily hits a slice forehand, going from high to low; which is the same exact motion he uses to hit his drop shot. So it is almost impossible to read it early, which is one of the keys to defending against it.

It seems to me, that these are the keys to playing against a drop shotter:

  1. Understand going into the match, that is what you are facing and be ready for them;
  2. Stand much closer to – or even inside of – the baseline during rallies;
  3. Anticipate THE SITUATION when he is likely to hit one; if he drives you deep to your backhand corner and you hit a short reply cross court, know that he is likely to drop it down his backhand line to your short deuce court (for righties) and make you run the long diagonal to get to it;
  4. Watch for any racquet or body language to give a clue that it is coming – usually the raised racquet head and somewhat upright body positioning are good clues;
  5. Commit to getting to the ball. You will sometimes surprise yourself as to what you can get to;
  6. And when you do, do something smart with your reply. Depending on how quickly you can get to it and what he is doing, you can: drop it back over the net, drop it angled cross court, punch it down the line, or drive it cross court and deep;
  7. And if you can’t get to it, don’t waste the energy running; just say “nice shot” and get ready for the next point.

So, how do you defend against a killer drop shot?

By the way, I was able to survive the drop shot onslaught to win one, long set 7-5 and then he won a 10-point tiebreaker to end the practice session.

2 thoughts on “Defending against the Drop Shot

  1. Your responses to defend against the drop shotter are the classic ones and I have nothing to add. What’s fun is to watch the Super Senior Grand Prix matches when they come to town in January. In the 85 and 90 year old singles category — it’s usually the first drop shot that wins the point!

  2. I’m thinking (in tennis) you’d try to hit every ball deep in the opponent’s court with as much underspin as possible to minimize his ability to come high to low from back at the baseline. Curiously, in tabletennis if you hit a severe topspin “loopshot”, when the ball strikes the playing surface it dives low rather than comes up and might be a better tactic for that sport.

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