Step-by-Step How to Hit the Forehand Drop Shot

01
of 07

Court Position and Grip

court position and grip
(C)2006 Jeff Cooper licensed to About.com, Inc.

You should use a drop shot when you are close enough to the net to make the ball land softly and very short in your opponent's court. Only a small percentage of players can pull this off reliably from the baseline. Most players should be at 3/4 depth or shorter.

The Eastern forehand grip (shown) is well suited to drop shots. You could also use a Continental grip, but if you want to develop the ability to hit drop shots from farther back in your court, you'll probably find it easier to use a grip closer to your regular forehand grip, and Eastern is closer to the modern range of grips (Eastern through Western) than is Continental. Some players manage to hit drop shots with a Semi-Western grip, but very few use a full Western.

02
of 07

Backswing

backswing
(C)2006 Jeff Cooper licensed to About.com, Inc.
You certainly don't need anything more than the most compact backswing to hit a drop shot, but for disguise, it helps to use the same backswing as always. The main necessity is to have the racquet at least a foot above where you'll be meeting the ball so that you can brush down the back of the ball with your strings and thus create backspin. Backspin slows the ball's forward motion when it hits the court, making the second bounce, which is the best measure of the quality of your drop shot, shorter.
03
of 07

Mid-Swing

mid-swing
(C)2006 Jeff Cooper licensed to About.com, Inc.
If you are hitting the ball on the rise or trying a high-risk drop shot with a very small margin of clearance over the net, you can hit a drop shot with a more vertical racquet face than shown here, but in the more usual situation, where the ball is falling as you hit it and you want at least a two-foot clearance over the net, your racquet face will be roughly halfway between vertical and horizontal. A fairly steep downward swing path that will produce strong backspin accompanies this much racquet tilt. The racquet has dropped more than two feet since the previous image. The whole body drops downward as part of the swing.
04
of 07

One Frame Before Contact

one frame before contact
(C)2006 Jeff Cooper licensed to About.com, Inc.
This image comes from the video frame just (1/30 second) before contact with the ball.

Contrary to some fairly popular belief, the racquet angle should remain constant during the drop shot swing. Trying to "curl under" the ball will just reduce your consistency. The ball wouldn't be on your strings long enough for the curling motion to have any effect, and the slightest error in the timing of your racquet rotation would result in too much or too little tilt. The low body position allows the long axis of the racquet to remain horizontal, which helps to ensure an accurate racquet angle.

05
of 07

Contact

contact
(C)2006 Jeff Cooper licensed to About.com, Inc.
Meet the ball well in front of your head. For most players, comfortable heights of contact for a drop shot range from the shoulders to the knees, with the lower parts of that range generally easier. As on every shot, try to keep looking at your point of contact for a split second after the ball leaves your strings.
06
of 07

One Frame After Contact

one frame after contact
(C)2006 Jeff Cooper licensed to About.com, Inc.
The racquet has barely moved forward beyond the point of contact. On this drop shot, the incoming ball wasn't moving at great speed, so the racquet met it more firmly and with more forward momentum than would have been used if the ball had impacted the racquet with more force. Hitting a good drop shot is generally more difficult when the ball is coming at you faster, because you have to let the racquet give more on contact to absorb much of the ball's energy. If the ball had arrived with greater speed here, this photo would likely show the racquet farther back than the point of contact.
07
of 07

Follow-Through

follow-through
(C)2006 Jeff Cooper licensed to About.com, Inc.
This type of drop shot has almost no follow-through. A drop shot would have a longer follow-through if the racquet were moving faster and brushing the ball more acutely on contact. Such a shot would produce heavier backspin, but it would be more difficult to execute than the more compact style shown here.