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Monday, December 19, 2016

Defending the Drop Shot

We spent last week reviewing the drop shot. The next logical step is to understand how to play the drop shot when it is hit by an opponent. A video from Deb Harrison called Returning the Third Shot Drop will be used to discuss this skill.

Deb's focus on this shot is a volley of a third shot drop that is hit below the level of the net but has not yet bounced. Her objective is to hit a return that keeps the serving opponents deep. Her choice of volley to accomplish that is a topspin shot and this video explains how it is hit.

As always, the first step in any shot is preparation. Getting ready for this shot means moving the paddle down to be prepared to take the ball in the air or on a short-hop if necessary.

When hitting the ball in the air, paddle movement is forward and up from the low position. The upward movement is emphasized because it adds topspin when brushed against the lower half and and back of the ball.

The movement in this shot is almost all confined to the shoulder and arm swinging the paddle. There is very little movement of the body and head.

Deb emphasizes not over-hitting the ball as it will carry out of bounds. To repeat the sequence, get the paddle down and swing forward and up.

Deb concludes the video with an advanced variation of the shot that adds wrist action to increase the pace of the return. In this variation the start and middle of the motion are identical but the wrist turns the paddle over the ball at the top. The wrist turn is essentially starting with the back of the palm facing upward and turning the wrist so the palm of the hand faces up.

This shot is very much about timing. Instead of imparting topspin with an upward movement, topspin is added by actually rolling the paddle over ball. Rolling isn't really the proper term as it implies a slower action than needed. The wrist action is more akin to snapping the paddle over the ball or, as Deb calls it, "flicking" her wrist.

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