Coaching Blog : Different ways to play the same shot

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Coaching Blog : Different ways to play the same shot

This is an important subtlety that is understood at the top of the game, but probably hasn’t been considered by many other players.

There is often cause to play a certain shot in different ways depending on your and your opponents’ position in the court.

If we take a backhand straight drop shot for example. I’m sure you have a standard way of playing this. A particular pace and technique that suits you. If we ignore the technique, as everyone’s technique is slightly different, but we look at the pace of the shot. I think a straight drop shot from the centre of the court needs to be played with a  tiny bit of pace and slice, to make the ball travel in a direct, straight line through the air to the front wall. The emphasis is on the speed in which the ball gets into the front corner. If you are to play a straight backhand drop from further up in the court, where you are closer to the front wall, it needs to be more delicate, so hit much softer. Here the emphasis is on making the ball stay as close to the front wall as possible.


If we are to look at the Backhand Volley Drop; I would suggest a shot played where you have an angle to aim for the nick, this needs to be hit firmer. Your emphasis is to fire it into the nick, a fast winning shot. Whereas if you are closer to the side wall and do not have an angle to hit the nick, then you need to hit the ball softer – your goal here is to make the ball stay close to the front wall and tight to the side wall. This is easier to achieve when you have taken pace off the ball.

One word of warning on softer drop shots – do not make your shot so soft that it loops up before coming down onto the front wall. This causes the ball to be in the air for too long and gives your opponent time to reach it, even if it is to land one cm above the tin.

One more example; the cross-court. If you are in the front corner with time (ie. not under pressure and needing to lob), you want to hit the ball hard when playing a cross-court (this would be after your opponents’ slightly high boast or drop shot). This needs to be hit hard and low, and angled to go directly in to the back corner. If you are playing a cross-court from deeper in the court (behind the service box) and you want to hit hard, this needs to be slightly wider. You need to be angling the ball to hit the side wall about level with the back of the service box. If you are deeper in the court, your opponent probably has a slight bit of time to settle on the ‘T’, so your cross-court needs to be hard and wide to escape their volley.


These are just 2 examples of playing the same shot differently depending on your court position.