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Swing Tip: Getting the Drop on your Opponent!

Swing Tip: Getting the Drop on Your Opponent
The drop shot is a hit softly with backspin, sculpting it to fall onto the court just after clearing the net. A good drop shot is hit with slice and backspin as the result of the brushing effect between the ball and the racquet face during contact. Slice/backspin slows down the ball once it passes over the net. A perfect drop shot always lands short, in front of the service line. It can be hit as an outright winner or to force an opponent to the net. The tactic is effective if the opponent is vulnerable at the net, slow or out of shape! 
Technical Difficulty
Because you must hit the ball with backspin, the player must be able to hit with an open racquet face. An Eastern (90 degrees) or Continental grip (45 degrees) works well on the forehand side because it makes it easy to open the racquet face (its flipped on its back, your palm facing the sky) to get the height necessary to get the ball up and over the net and to create backspin. When the player is hitting on the backhand side, a Continental grip is best because the racquet face is open, which gives the shot the necessary elevation to get up and over the net with backspin. The steeper the slice, the greater the cut, the shorter it falls. Remember to clear the net first!
The backswing for the drop shot begins high, like a loop backswing. Just before contact, the racquet path goes from high to level and the racquet is open to create backspin. This sword-wielding is where the drop shot swing called the slice got its name. The motion from high to level slices the air, virtually cutting down the speed on the ball and changing its course.
You will know if your drop shot is good if the ball bounces 3 times before reaching the service line. The closer the ball to the net, the longer the distance that your opponent has to cover. Another characteristic of a good drop shot is when the ball falls down when it reaches the net.
If you are feeling extra suave, try to maintain a backswing that is the same as a backswing for an aggressive groundstroke. This “disguise” prevents the opponent from anticipating the short drop shot, forcing him/her to prepare in the backcourt and move forward only after the shot is hit. This component will take extra time to master. 
To improve your drop shot, you need to practice more often with another player. The ideal way to do this is to start with a groundstroke rally first. Then, one player should hit a ball in the service box and making sure that ball bounces high. Once the ball bounces high, begin your cut high and hit a drop shot. Practice hitting your drop shot near the net in different areas of the tennis court to master this shot.
Getting Your Drop On
Spring leagues and warm weather are on the horizon. Some of you are ready to play but have no one to “get the drop on.” There is an answer! Gates tennis ladder is only $12 through March to sign up, giving your phone # and email to put you on the ladder and up on the website. Gates’ staff will most likely place you at the bottom but this is where you can start playing on a regular basis. You can begin challenging or being challenged immediately. After you have played 3 or more matches, you are eligible for the tournament with a USTA membership. You may challenge up to 4 positions above you and then its up to you how far you will go.
If you aren’t feeling social or competitive, they have ball machine rental for only $12/hour at non-prime-time hours and $14/hour for prime time. Monday-Friday mornings-4pm is non-prime time, weekend prime time is mornings -2pm- after that is open and considered non-prime time. In addition, Wednesday & Saturdays are Ball Machine Bonanza from 12-2pm, and the 1st 8 people that show, get to play for $6. 
Visit  or Call Gates Tennis Center at 303-355-4461.
There’s no excuse-get on the court! Start to get your drop on!