Drop shots are hit softly from your rearcourt to land in the opponent’s forecourt. Let’s look at the basic technique.
Start with straight drop shots
It’s best for your technique if you start by practising straight drop shots, not cross-court. Often players can play cross-court just fine, but have trouble hitting straight because their preparation or hitting action is flawed. Forcing themselves to play straight drops will reveal the problem. It’s better to find out now than later!
Grip and preparation
Use a relaxed forehand grip, just like your other overhead shots.
Your preparation must look the same as a clear or smash: turn side-on and get your racket back, so that you look like you can hit the shuttle hard. Drop shots work much better if they are disguised to look like a powerful shot.
If you show a different preparation, your opponents will realise you are playing a drop shot and they will move forwards to attack it.
Reach up for a high contact point. You should be hitting the shuttle at full relaxed reach, ideally above the racket shoulder and slightly in front of you. A high contact point means that your drop shot will travel downwards, not flat; this makes it a more effective attacking shot.
Use a soft pushing action to hit the shuttle.
Follow through after hitting. The follow through should initially be in the same direction as your shot, but then let your arm relax across your body.
Dropping the elbow
It’s very common for players to drop their elbow, so that they hit the shuttle with a low contact point. Although this can sometimes be used deliberately for deception, it’s most often just a bad habit. When you are learning drop shots, make sure you have a high contact point.
Using a panhandle grip
This usually happens together with dropping the elbow. Often players will start with a forehand grip, but then switch to a panhandle grip as they are preparing for the shot. Usually players don’t even realise they are doing this, and even as a coach you need sharp eyes to spot it!
To check this, you can get ready for hitting a drop shot, but stop just before the hit. Now check your grip. This check isn’t 100% reliable; video is even better, filmed from the side.
Checking your grip after the shot won’t work, because by this time you may have changed it back again.
Hitting with a tapping or flicking action
Many players use a sharp tapping action to hit the shuttle, with the wrist bending forwards as they hit. This usually makes all your drop shots travel deeper into court than you would like.
Instead, practise using a soft, smooth hitting action. It should feel like your whole arm is guiding the shuttle over the net. Avoid flicking the wrist: you are trying to reduce the speed of your shot, and flicking the wrist will increase the speed.