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Monday, December 21, 2015

Third Shot Drive

A previous post stated that a third shot drop is the best option to give them time to get to the kitchen. There is one situation where a drive may be a better option for players with a very strong groundstroke or, better yet, an ability to hit a strong topspin.

In most cases, the return of serve will be deep in the servers' court as illustrated below.

A deep service return allows the returner to join his partner at the kitchen. So, the typical third shot must be made with both serving team players near the baseline and their opponents at the kitchen. The best option in this situation, by far, is the third shot drop.

But what if the return of serve is short? The return decision then becomes one of strengths - the strength of the returners' groundstroke versus the strength of the opponents' ability to adjust while advancing to the kitchen.

Two actions result with a short return of serve. The first action is the serving team can immediately move toward the kitchen. This provides the momentum and time to reach the kitchen line even if they hit a low driving shot. The second action is the service returner fails to reach the kitchen line because there is insufficient time. Between the 2 actions, the player making the third shot has the option of making a hard shot to the player in no-man's land or even surprise the player at the kitchen line. A driving shot that is ineffective from the baseline can be much more effective from a closer position.

Therefore, there is some imaginary line where the options expand from just a drop shot to include a hard driving shot. This imaginary line can vary from player to player based on strengths but is somewhere near the mid-point between the kitchen and baseline as illustrated below.

A short Mark Renneson video called Decision-Making Training: 3rd Shot Drop vs. Drive describing this concept is below.

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