Updated: Jul 27, 2021
Drop what you’re doing and gimme two minutes to read about, well, the drop! It’s the safest way to take the ball short, it’s comparatively simple to execute and when played in the target zone, it places opponents under pressure.
Firstly, what does it look like? Well, there are three standard variations on the drop. There is a heavily cut drop, looking perhaps to strike the nick and best played off an opponent’s ball which is above the height of the tin. There is a “push” drop, slightly less cut, hit to cling to the side wall and always hitting the floor before the side wall. Finally there is my all time favorite, the “roll over”, struck off a ball below the height of the tin, predominantly as a counter drop of a previous short ball and with enough work or spin on the ball to make it cling to the side wall and force a poor response from the opponent.
Let’s get to the heavily cut drop for a start, everyone’s favorite and frequently played even when it shouldn’t be. A heavily cut drop can be played with a “chopping” swing, cutting down on the ball and imparting significant spin. This drop can be aggressively aimed at the nick and to end the rally. It is a slightly risky shot, in as much as any drop that hits the front wall and then the side wall before the floor may “pop out” and give the opponent something loose to prey upon. Similarly with the amount of “chopping down” on the ball used it has potential to hit the ball into the tin and make that unfortunate error.
The push drop is the spoon of the drop world. Not to say that knives and forks are unhelpful, but you can do anything with a spoon from eating cereal to assisting with spaghetti to… well, you get the idea. In the case of the push drop it is best used off a ball about the height of the tin. A moderate to small swing, small amount of slice and extension towards target, which should be the front wall, then floor and hopefully ending up snuzzling the side wall nice and tight.
Finally my pet, my favorite, my long term buddy… the “roll over”. Played off a ball from the opponent that has dipped below the height of the tin. With a vertical, rather than a horizontal racquet shaft, we manipulate the face of the racquet to caress the side of the ball with heavy spin. Because of the relationship between the ball and the strikers body, masking point of impact becomes comparatively easy, adding a deceptive component. The spin or “work” on the ball that we add makes the ball likely to cling to the side wall, subdues the bounce and can give the opponent a world of trouble to extricate themselves from.
TAKE HOME MESSAGE
You need to have more than one type of drop shop that you’re capable of playing. At the very least there are three obviously taught variations for different situations, all of which have a different effect on the opponent. Rehearse all three, be mindful of execution and above all, be discerning. A drop is not simply a soft short ball and if that’s all you’re hitting, you’re short changing your game and chances for success!