QuickTip: The Lost Art of the Drop Hit
Next time you are on court, address any (or all) of these questions. When balls are in your hand to start a rally - What is your grip? How tight or loose are your fingers? What type of spin does the ball accumulate as you swat it to your partner (or opponent)?
How is your balance on this drop hit? Are you drop-hitting with just your hand, your arm and hand, your body and arm, just how are you actually hitting the ball? Where are your eyes on this drop hit? Does this drop hit resemble your playing forehand (or backhand)? Is the drop hit hurried, flowing, abrupt, long, how does it look to others? If you are working to perfect a new stroke, do you use a version of this on the drop hit?
My piano teacher in Florida, Ruth Powell (and I was an adult beginner which was quite humbling) admonished, "Practice makes perfect when you practice perfectly." I confess to using this phrase constantly on the teaching court. However, when learning, or honing one's game, there are truly so many skills to acquire, it is hard to know where to start, or more to the point hard to know whether you can readily practice each and every skill perfectly.
My suggestion is to start with the drop hit, and to do it perfectly each and every time. That is when you walk to the net to retrieve a ball, when players on the adjacent court ask, "Ball please," when starting rallies - each and every time you either take a ball from your pocket or pick it up to send it to someone, execute this drop hit perfectly.
Examples. Starting at age 12, my coach Blackie Jones asked me to drop hit the ball on the backhand side with a full eastern backhand grip. At first I could not really aim the ball all that well, but within a few months I had acquired a nifty topspin backhand that serves me today. Starting every drop hit with this stroke gave me the repetitions needed to build both skill and confidence.
Years ago in Florida, Ken Rosewall and his group of seniors would play in tournaments at Bluewater Bay. I noticed that Rosewall, whether giving a ball to the ball kids, starting rallies, whatever, it appeared he was still practicing, still using that initial drop hit as a method to keep the feel of a good yet simple stroke.
Now observe how you do this and how your friends do it also. I think you will be amazed, as I am by how many times someone picks the ball up off the ground and awkwardly flings it to their partner. There is truly no guarantee that some element of this off-hand stroke will not work its way back into your game. For if you pick the ball up and slap it, then beware of a slapping stroke in the crunch. If you pick it up and push it, then the push may creep into your game. But if you want to play perfectly, then practice perfectly by carefully and correctly stroking this initial drop hit.
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Focus and the Zone
Every time you walk onto the tennis court you have the choice of playing tennis in your normal performance state or in your peak performance state (the zone). How you use your visual focus will determine which of these performance states you experience. Forever we've been told to watch the ball, but is this mantra the best way to play the game? Surprisingly enough, Scott Ford has another idea.
Tactics - The Secret to Great Technique
Technique is the favorite topic of most people involved in tennis. The reason is tennis is a complex motor sport requiring coordination, agility, and balance. But tennis is a game and every game needs to be played. So if you really want to set the stage for meaningful technical stroke development, the key is tactics. Wayne Elderton continues his series on the Game Based Approach to winning Tennis.
Big Screen TV
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