Footwork/shot selection when opponent drop shots to your FH off your serve?

EddieBrock

Professional
In my match my opponent sometimes just blocks with a little slice/backspin the return off my 1st serve out wide on the deuce side and it lands somewhere between the service line and the net slightly towards my right (I'm right handed). I have a semi-western grip and am not used to scooping up balls that are below my knees. Obviously if I could read it and get early it would be ideal, but if I'm on the full run to get to the ball what should I do with it?

It seems like such a simple shot since you're close to the net, but I attempted to do an awkward forehand slice and hit it in the net twice. The guy I'm playing doesn't exactly pass like Djokovic so I don't need to hit a great approach, but I need to make the shot and not just float it either.

What kind of footwork should I use? Should I continue with the forehand slice or attempt to get underneath if with topspin?
 

golden chicken

Hall of Fame
Personally, I would slice forehand that into their ad side corner and follow it in, but I have that shot.

The shot I don't have, but you might be more comfortable with, is a topspin forehand crosscourt. Either deep to the deuce side corner or sharper angled, like aim for the service line.

If I were to slice it I would run through the shot. If I were to try topspin, I would run up to it, plant my left foot and skip as I hit the ball. (Right handed) Go for placement over power.
 

Fintft

Legend
Personally, I would slice forehand that into their ad side corner and follow it in, but I have that shot.

The shot I don't have, but you might be more comfortable with, is a topspin forehand crosscourt. Either deep to the deuce side corner or sharper angled, like aim for the service line.

If I were to slice it I would run through the shot. If I were to try topspin, I would run up to it, plant my left foot and skip as I hit the ball. (Right handed) Go for placement over power.
Never crossed my mind to slice my FH...Top spin cc FH FTW like you said.

As for footwork, I come to the net as for S&V when I expect him to DS on the return.
 

golden chicken

Hall of Fame
Never crossed my mind to slice my FH...Top spin cc FH FTW like you said.

As for footwork, I come to the net as for S&V when I expect him to DS on the return.
I admit, I'm old-school. I like to keep it low and in front of me and take the net. Slice approach off both wings, any opportunity.
 

ptuanminh

Hall of Fame
Footwork: Long steps then several small steps.
Shot: punch deep to the corner or your opponent feet, continental grip will do. Be ready for a volley or overhead.
Forget about short forehand slice. If your opponent is any decent, you will get hit in the face.
 

Dragy

Hall of Fame
CC topspin as pointed out - as it’s easiest to produce compared to DTL or I/O which require getting farther and around the ball.
Drop racquet below the ball, but extend through and aim lower over the net - don’t pull up like you do for defensive moonballs.
And don’t hit hard, just extend fully. You neither need nor can afford to crush it in such a position - need to shape it and place it.
Deep slice is a good option when you are too late or as a change up when opponent starts expecting your default shot.
Redrop is valid also, depending on opponent’s position.

PS: if the ball is in the middle, you can also hit CC BH. Or BH slice. So more change up options.
 

zaph

Professional
There is a guy at my club who does this a lot, my response depends on how quick I get there. One of the few natural advantages I have on a tennis court is I am fast and can change direction very quickly. If I get there quickly enough, I just smack it past him. If it has dropped too low, I dink it back and make it his problem.

I definitely recommend smacking it, if you can manage it a couple of times, It really puts them off trying it.
 

18x20 ftw

Rookie
Forehand topspin angled off into their backhand (or at least that corner depending where you are exactly). Rinse and repeat. Make them beat you with a pass over and over, you will win the larger %.

I would probably use the lift and land (many diff names for it). Cover the line, angle off a volley if possible, and look for a possible lob to hit an overhead.
 

GuyClinch

Legend
People can drop shot off of your serve? Seems like you should have started a “how to improve my serve” thread.
Basically this. Seems cruel and I know the shot you are talking about - you serve out wide and they hit a cross court slice that forces you to dash to the net.
You are kinda of stuck if you get this shot. You have to close to the net very quickly and if you get a late jump some players won't make it.

But if you can get to it in time (which can be hard depending on your speed) you can slice it DTL and turn it into an approach opportunity. The problem with a cross court shot in that circumstance is that you will already be close to the net and will be giving your opponent an easy pass.

In doubles you can safely go cross court because your net player can cover the pass.. But in singles I say DTL slice or even DTL windshield wiper if you can't hit the slice well.
 

Slowtwitcher

Hall of Fame
It depends. Your options are limited by how early you get to the ball, what shots you can make, where your opponent positions herself after hitting the her shot, etc.

But yeah, like others said before, most players can only drop-shot on weak serves...
 

EddieBrock

Professional
It depends. Your options are limited by how early you get to the ball, what shots you can make, where your opponent positions herself after hitting the her shot, etc.

But yeah, like others said before, most players can only drop-shot on weak serves...
While I would like to improve my serve for sure that's not the issue at play here. My opponent is basically lunging and just sticking his racket out and able to get the return short. It's not a traditional drop shot like he has time to hit a regular forehand and then does a drop shot at the last minute. He's at full stretch and just putting a little slice on it. Sometimes he floats it deeper and I can come up and kill it, but he's done enough short that I need to work on that.
 

golden chicken

Hall of Fame
How are you at predicting by how your serve feels that your opponent will have to lunge for it? If you can predict it most of the time, I'd just go towards the net any time I hit a serve like that.
 

Slowtwitcher

Hall of Fame
While I would like to improve my serve for sure that's not the issue at play here. My opponent is basically lunging and just sticking his racket out and able to get the return short. It's not a traditional drop shot like he has time to hit a regular forehand and then does a drop shot at the last minute. He's at full stretch and just putting a little slice on it. Sometimes he floats it deeper and I can come up and kill it, but he's done enough short that I need to work on that.
If that's the case then you need to anticipate it. Perhaps the best strategy is to keep moving forward after you hit one of those serves that put your opponent under pressure.
 
When retrieving a drop shot most tour players switch to a conti grip unless it is extremely terrible.

With the conti you can hit a dtl push/slice, a counter drop and also a shortangle with a little bit of topspin which are basically the options you have unless it is a very bad drop that you see extremely early so you can rip a standard topspin.

 

HuusHould

Professional
most players can only drop-shot on weak serves...
If it's happening on the first serve, then there's obvious issues with the serve, but I'd say about half 2nd serves are drop shottable, by someone adept at the shot.

When retrieving a drop shot most tour players switch to a conti grip unless it is extremely terrible.

With the conti you can hit a dtl push/slice, a counter drop and also a shortangle with a little bit of topspin which are basically the options you have unless it is a very bad drop that you see extremely early so you can rip a standard topspin.

I think the above sums it up. I think you have to drill hitting all four corners of the court after running forward (deep up the middle can be another one). Disguise is important (of both depth and direction). Wawrinka used a novel response to the Djokers drop shots in the 15 RG final, he ran forward and hit a full blooded continental grip fh drive x court a few times.
 

EddieBrock

Professional
When retrieving a drop shot most tour players switch to a conti grip unless it is extremely terrible.

With the conti you can hit a dtl push/slice, a counter drop and also a shortangle with a little bit of topspin which are basically the options you have unless it is a very bad drop that you see extremely early so you can rip a standard topspin.

Wish I could hit like Nadal in that video! Switching to a continental grip might work. I usually keep my normal forehand grip
 

golden chicken

Hall of Fame
High school tennis was the first place I ran into players using more extreme SW and W grips. I would intentionally hit short and watch them scramble up and hit the ball into the bottom of the net.

The grip choice definitely makes it harder.
 
Like others have said... if you're close to the net and ball is low you gotta switch up that grip to continental and either drop shot or get it deep with a forehand slice or shovel it if you have to. You'll have a far better chance of getting the ball over the net and make him hit another shot.
 

jered

Rookie
Actually I find big serves easier to DS because you barely have to touch the ball
This. I can semi-reliably drop shot a big flat 1st serve. Big kickers are the hardest to DS on. Weak serves are so slow that the server has time to be ready for the short ball so I'd rather just crush those and take time away.
 
Actually I find big serves easier to DS because you barely have to touch the ball
I don’t want to derail the thread as the OP apparently has this happen to him. But, to someone with a PhD in Physics this makes no sense. And, as soon as I find someone with a PhD in Physics I will verify that. The faster a ball is coming into the strings the more you are required to cushion that force. To be a decent dropper it must be in the first 1/2 of the serve box not to mention staying relatively low. Anything short of the net, you lose the point. Anything past the halfway point of the box and it gets crushed. I will try to remember the last time I saw someone on the ATP tour try this shot. The amount of touch required to DS a 100+mph serve would make this a “prayer” shot. Do it close to 100% of the time and you’d have a circus act.
 

Slowtwitcher

Hall of Fame
I don’t want to derail the thread as the OP apparently has this happen to him. But, to someone with a PhD in Physics this makes no sense. And, as soon as I find someone with a PhD in Physics I will verify that. The faster a ball is coming into the strings the more you are required to cushion that force. To be a decent dropper it must be in the first 1/2 of the serve box not to mention staying relatively low. Anything short of the net, you lose the point. Anything past the halfway point of the box and it gets crushed. I will try to remember the last time I saw someone on the ATP tour try this shot. The amount of touch required to DS a 100+mph serve would make this a “prayer” shot. Do it close to 100% of the time and you’d have a circus act.
You seem to forget this is TT. Everyone here is good at hitting drop-shots off fast 1st serves, backhand overhead smashes and win 100% of points when they have to hit a half-volley.
 
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EddieBrock

Professional
I don’t want to derail the thread as the OP apparently has this happen to him. But, to someone with a PhD in Physics this makes no sense. And, as soon as I find someone with a PhD in Physics I will verify that. The faster a ball is coming into the strings the more you are required to cushion that force. To be a decent dropper it must be in the first 1/2 of the serve box not to mention staying relatively low. Anything short of the net, you lose the point. Anything past the halfway point of the box and it gets crushed. I will try to remember the last time I saw someone on the ATP tour try this shot. The amount of touch required to DS a 100+mph serve would make this a “prayer” shot. Do it close to 100% of the time and you’d have a circus act.
I'm not saying that the guy can do it 100% of the time or this is a high % shot, but the guy did it twice in 1 game. This was off a slice serve to his forehand side on the deuce court. To me it looked like he just stuck his racket out and moved into the shot and was able to hit a decent drop shot.

Sometimes when I'm lunging to return a big serve or one that I can't reach I'll drop the return short. That doesn't mean I have the greatest touch in the world. It's just something that happens. My slice serve is slower than a flat one since I'm putting more spin on it. No idea about the speed other than it's substantially slower than a pro's serve.

It's happened enough that I'd like to be able to counter it.
 
I'm not saying that the guy can do it 100% of the time or this is a high % shot, but the guy did it twice in 1 game. This was off a slice serve to his forehand side on the deuce court. To me it looked like he just stuck his racket out and moved into the shot and was able to hit a decent drop shot.

Sometimes when I'm lunging to return a big serve or one that I can't reach I'll drop the return short. That doesn't mean I have the greatest touch in the world. It's just something that happens. My slice serve is slower than a flat one since I'm putting more spin on it. No idea about the speed other than it's substantially slower than a pro's serve.

It's happened enough that I'd like to be able to counter it.
Sure. That is why I pointed out that I didn’t want to detail your thread because it apparently had happened and it does happen that a good serve will cause a weak return. It was others that said they try and hit a DS on purpose off of a big flat 1st serve. Other than an overhead hit near the net, a first serve would be about the hardest to hit a DS from. You would have to decide before the guy hit the serve, I would reckon and have to abort if into your body or stretched wide. Too much to think about while it is bearing down on you.
 

ubercat

Professional
Pretty much that. I m just maxing out my crappiness. I often try to slice long off a big serve and end up hitting mid court. Put a bit less effort in and I end up with a short slice.

Technically not s DS but good enough for my level
 

ubercat

Professional
And a guy I play can do this a ridiculous number of times. Hitting hard to his backhand hurts because I get back all all these dead cat balls. So I m a believer. These guys r out there.
 

jered

Rookie
I don’t want to derail the thread as the OP apparently has this happen to him. But, to someone with a PhD in Physics this makes no sense. And, as soon as I find someone with a PhD in Physics I will verify that. The faster a ball is coming into the strings the more you are required to cushion that force. To be a decent dropper it must be in the first 1/2 of the serve box not to mention staying relatively low. Anything short of the net, you lose the point. Anything past the halfway point of the box and it gets crushed. I will try to remember the last time I saw someone on the ATP tour try this shot. The amount of touch required to DS a 100+mph serve would make this a “prayer” shot. Do it close to 100% of the time and you’d have a circus act.
Who's playing pros in here? Serves in the 90-100mph range aren't super difficult to drop shot. I have a reasonably good feel for doing it when it comes to my backhand especially low in my strike zone. Some of the time it's a short "dead ball" return instead of a dropper. Every now and then I hit the net. It also doesn't need to be low. Backspin is the key. It actually works best if it's about 2-3 ft above the net so it drops then kicks back toward the net.

I regularly play at least one other guy who can also do this with fair consistency so I try to avoid giving him that serve.
 
I don’t want to derail the thread as the OP apparently has this happen to him. But, to someone with a PhD in Physics this makes no sense. And, as soon as I find someone with a PhD in Physics I will verify that. The faster a ball is coming into the strings the more you are required to cushion that force. To be a decent dropper it must be in the first 1/2 of the serve box not to mention staying relatively low. Anything short of the net, you lose the point. Anything past the halfway point of the box and it gets crushed. I will try to remember the last time I saw someone on the ATP tour try this shot. The amount of touch required to DS a 100+mph serve would make this a “prayer” shot. Do it close to 100% of the time and you’d have a circus act.
I would argue that there is a sweet spot: too slow and it's more difficult because...I'm not quite sure why. But it's definitely harder for me to DS off of a self-feed [the most extreme "slow" ball] than anything with forward momentum.

But too fast and you can't react in time and you need to be more precise.

So I can see how a faster ball would be easier to DS but at some point, my accuracy will suffer.
 

ubercat

Professional
I don't know who you guys play but in my league I have a guy who s an all court player but just moonballs most of the time until people crack, a pusher who s got a great net game and can DS just about anything, several squash shot guys, sidespin specialists who can have u playing across 1.25 courts and a couple of guys that just hit big forehands all night and can run round 90% of their BHs. I m an aggressive junk baller and these guys make me look vanilla.
 

Cashman

Hall of Fame
This general tactic is a very common play on grass. Not so much a drop-shot, but more generally a short sliced ball to the forehand. On hardcourt that sort of shot is a bit low-IQ - you'll ram it down my throat with interest - but on grass it will keep very low and be very hard to attack. Really, the only good way to manage it is a forehand slice - so I'd suggest the same approach here.

If you don't hit forehand slice, just try and hit a normal half-volley at an extreme cross-court angle (so you get the most forgiving court geometry possible).

Realistically, the situation you describe is one of extreme disadvantage. Regardless of what shot you hit, you are going to lose the point the majority of the time. The only real solution is to improve your serving so that your opponent can't reliably put you in this position.
 
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FatHead250

Semi-Pro
Its just like any other shot, it doesnt have anything on it. the only goal is to get to it in time. Hit it down the line to his backhand and come to the net. If you cant hit a low ball then all advice is useless and you should learn to hit a low ball thats it
 

Dragy

Hall of Fame
Dropshotting a serve is usually a bad idea because of opponent’s position - landing inside the baseline, in the middle of the court. Unless the server is extremely unfit, or if he’s so defensive after hitting a serve to recover back, so that moves to the counter direction as returner hits...
Now OP’s issue seems to be dealing with a lowish ball closer to the net, rather than chasing a ball. Should be simply practiced - hit drop feeds (self feeds work as well) from just inside the box and into set targets.
 

EddieBrock

Professional
Dropshotting a serve is usually a bad idea because of opponent’s position - landing inside the baseline, in the middle of the court. Unless the server is extremely unfit, or if he’s so defensive after hitting a serve to recover back, so that moves to the counter direction as returner hits...
Now OP’s issue seems to be dealing with a lowish ball closer to the net, rather than chasing a ball. Should be simply practiced - hit drop feeds (self feeds work as well) from just inside the box and into set targets.
Yep, it's not that I can't get to the ball, but rather I feel that I'm in an awkward position hitting up on the ball when I'm so close to the net
 

ubercat

Professional
I d suggest if you're self feeding throw the ball well to the side. The hardest ones to deal r with sidespin. U have to hit ball at 5 or 7 while slicing. Not easy.
 
This general tactic is a very common play on grass. Not so much a drop-shot, but more generally a short sliced ball to the forehand. On hardcourt that sort of shot is a bit low-IQ - you'll ram it down my throat with interest - but on grass it will keep very low and be very hard to attack. Really, the only good way to manage it is a forehand slice - so I'd suggest the same approach here.
I think this can work on hardcourt also.

Mainly I'm looking at things like my opponent's court position and how well he can move. If both are unfavorable, even a mediocre version of what you described could be good.
 

ubercat

Professional
I think angle is a big enabler. If he is serving from the deuce side and you can drop on the BH he's got a lot of ground to cover and a sharp angle to get around. Yes it's a hard shot to make but you might as well practice what is good. and before people get all wrapped up in the drop shot thing it's pretty similar to the shot you would be playing if you wanted to slice deep to his backhand which is also good.
 
and before people get all wrapped up in the drop shot thing it's pretty similar to the shot you would be playing if you wanted to slice deep to his backhand which is also good.
They have similarities but I'm not sure they're that close: the deep slice does not require great touch. If you miss by a few feet short or long, it won't immediately cost you the point. If your DS is short, it goes into the net; if it's "long", your opponent gets a sitter. That alone can cause people to tense up and paradoxically ruin their touch.
 

Bender

G.O.A.T.
I don’t want to derail the thread as the OP apparently has this happen to him. But, to someone with a PhD in Physics this makes no sense. And, as soon as I find someone with a PhD in Physics I will verify that. The faster a ball is coming into the strings the more you are required to cushion that force. To be a decent dropper it must be in the first 1/2 of the serve box not to mention staying relatively low. Anything short of the net, you lose the point. Anything past the halfway point of the box and it gets crushed. I will try to remember the last time I saw someone on the ATP tour try this shot. The amount of touch required to DS a 100+mph serve would make this a “prayer” shot. Do it close to 100% of the time and you’d have a circus act.
Sure it's complicated when you think about it but for some people (not me) the combo of equipment specs and range of incoming pace is just right that just putting a racquet with a slightly open racquet face is actually enough to absorb just enough pace to get a good drop shot going. It doesn't necessarily mean that the person executing has got god-tier touch.

You can see this when you vary the pace of the serve more. I played this old guy once who hit an awesome drop shot up the line off my first serve up the T, and it was one of the bigger first serves I could hit. Soul crushing when he did it a second time. Seemed like he was doing it on purpose and he acted that way. So I dialled back the first serves and realised my pace was in the right "range" for his block returns to come off as drop shots, because the same bunt / block returns he used against my slower flat firsts (~90 mph) and topspin serves were hitting the bottom of the net. So clearly it was by fluke that my flat first serve pace was just right for his block returns to come off as drop shots although he never intended it or admit it (fistpump and all).
I would argue that there is a sweet spot: too slow and it's more difficult because...I'm not quite sure why. But it's definitely harder for me to DS off of a self-feed [the most extreme "slow" ball] than anything with forward momentum.

But too fast and you can't react in time and you need to be more precise.

So I can see how a faster ball would be easier to DS but at some point, my accuracy will suffer.
Ah, I see you beat me to it.

I would say that an incoming ball that's too slow is more difficult because you have to provide your own pace to send the ball back over the net, but not enough that you give your opponent an absolute sitter.

If you attempt to hit a drop shot off a drop-feed then all the forward pace has to be created, and tbh probably isn't a good way to get a feel for the drop shot. You're better off getting a feel for it even hitting slightly floaty slices during mini tennis.

I imagine one of the best ways to practise on your own is to hit a big groundstroke at a wall then immediately hit a drop shot off the fast rebound. If it's already dropping by the time it touches the wall (and over the net) then I guess you've hit a good one.

I've lost my feel for the drop shot but my drop volley feel is back. I've been practising them without realising--when I'm practising and someone on the other side passes the ball to me I catch the ball with my racquet with a slightly open face so that it bounces forward maybe 0.5 to 1 metre then bounces back towards me. Turns out if I hit that exact same "catch" at the net, the drop volley comes off perfect. My issue is that I need to remember to try pretend I'm merely "catching" the ball rather than trying hit a drop volley because if I do the latter I just end up framing the ball.
 
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socallefty

Hall of Fame
If they are hitting great drop shots off your serves, you need to improve your serve. If they are hitting OK to bad dropshots and you are missing them, then you need to practice hitting against low shots on the run.
 

ptuanminh

Hall of Fame
I have a horrendous serve (80mph on a very GOOD day), but still its not that easy to dropshot my serve. Players on the same level as me maybe can do it once or twice in a match. The rest of the dropshots got punished pretty bad. of course, you have to move quick.
 

HuusHould

Professional
or if he’s so defensive after hitting a serve to recover back, so that moves to the counter direction as returner hits...
This is the key, a lot of defensive players fall back after their 2nd serve, as they usually have relatively weak second serves for their level of play.
 
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