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JAK'S MONTHLY ESSAY SERIES: Achieving Your Personal Best

The Approach Dropper: Lob Killer

June 2023

If there ever was a made to order tactic to annoy those annoying Lucy, Larry lobbers of the world it’s the deadly approach dropper. It’s the countermeasure when facing those who specialize in lobbing incessantly, frustratingly, and often successfully since they get so much practice at it versus actually trying to go after an inviting ball with forceful intent. They especially salivate when well intentioned opponent’s – who are aspiring to play more aggressively by taking control of the net – repeatedly come forward behind cupcake shots that wouldn’t break an egg.

Bulletin! Your net game is only as good as the shot you came in behind, which, if not effective enough to make an opponent uncomfortable, will make a lesser player than you mistakenly seem really good, when, just maybe, they are not.

Before I go any further – and I’m betting you’re already with me on this - just remember what Johnny Mac said year’s ago on the subject: “If it was a court of law those people would get thirty years to life.”

Unlike subjective figure skating scoring, there are no extra rewards for taking initiative and going really big. So, despite such an unflattering style of play, as always, the last team to hit the ball in the court successfully still wins the point every time. Ugly or not.

Even pro speedsters are vulnerable.

So instead of always trying emulate Tennis Channel stars – renown sage Yogi Berra once said: “If you can’t imitate him, don’t copy him.” - who in their world typically produce deep, penetrating approach shots when opponents have mistakenly left a routine groundie reply short in the court to munch on, alternatively just drop it short. Bring them in. Get them off the baseline.

Lob fest denied!

A young Rafa coming forward to carve a drop shot.

Always remember Arthur Ashe’s timeless advice, “Always make an opponent do something different when they are succeeding at a particular strategy or tactic.”

Once off the baseline where they are typically most comfortable launching their rainmakers, and getting them into the forecourt to retrieve your drop shot is the answer. Not to mention that the Lucys and Larrys usually do not possess Olympic caliber sprinting speed, and, if they are able to run your dropper down, are usually not adept at any ensuing mano a mano volley shootouts at the net.

Even if your drop shot skills are not fully developed yet (you definitely need this shot in your arsenal), just “dumping it” short, even without the preferred biting underspin, can get the job done as well, especially, again, versus the slow-footed . Keep in mind that once struck, follow the line/angle/direction of your probe while closing in very tight to the net to vertically cut-off any last ditch effort on their part to pass or lob their retrieval over you. Backing away, a club level favorite, lets them off your hook by providing safe haven to hit into.

Regarding drop shot execution while moving forward: 1) keep the contact point in front of you, 2) Prep the racket by the incoming ball’s bounce and higher than your normal while opening the racket face slightly with a continental grip, 3) high to low to high striking path with somewhat muted follow through, 4) carve both under and inside the ball, 5) lower your center of gravity through the contact moment.


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Past Essays

  • June 2023 - The Approach Dropper: Lob Killer
    [read more]
  • May 2023 - Why club players don’t practice
    [read more]
  • April 2023 - DON’T FIGHT TIGHT
    [read more]
  • March 2023 - Classic finish line failure
    [read more]
  • February 2023 - Defending the lob over your net partner – The "Switch"
    [read more]
  • December 2022 - E. I. D. - Extended Impact Duration
    [read more]
  • November 2022 - Movement Enhancement to Stay Better In-Point Connected
    [read more]
  • September 2022 - Advanced Visualization 301
    [read more]
  • August 2022 - Tennis' uniqueness: warming-up the enemy
    [read more]
  • July 2022 - Extracting Double Faults Through Receiving Positions... and more
    [read more]
  • June 2022 - Consider Serve and Volley
    [read more]
  • May 2022 - How the Toss Primes the Serve Relaxation Pump
    [read more]
  • April 2022 - Ball Watching and Science
    [read more]
  • March 2022 - Caving
    [read more]
  • February 2022 - Kenny G and Emmo
    [read more]
  • January 2022 - The Knees
    [read more]

Essay Archives

Click a year to view more essays


  • December 2021 - The Match is with You
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  • November 2021 - The Backup Racket in Your Bag
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  • October 2021 - Every Tennis Player Can and Should Have a Weapon
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  • September 2021 - LEARNING NEW SKILLS: First the Process, Then the Results
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  • August 2021 - The Challenge of Visualizing… For Some
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  • July 2021 - Playing with both your feet and your hands
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  • June 2021 - Finding the Range
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  • May 2021 - The Focus
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  • April 2021 - About Your Butt Cap
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  • March 2021 - The Essential Forehand and Backhand
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  • February 2021 - On Being a Doubles All-Courter
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  • January 2021 - Same Grip Volleying Myths
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  • December 2020 - On mechanics and style
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  • November 2020 - THE BIG 3: The Glue That Keeps Your Best Game Together
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  • September 2020 - Protocol and Game Tradition Revisited
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  • August 2020 - As Good as Your 2nd Serve
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  • July 2020 - Shot Shaping
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  • June 2020 - Getting a Point in Jeopardy Back to Neutral
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  • May 2020 - A Positive Mind-Set: On and Off the Court in Today's C-19 Reality
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  • April 2020 - The Zombie Tennis Creed – Top Ten
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  • March 2020 - A Roadmap Into "The Zone"
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  • February 2020 - The service toss: myths and realities
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  • January 2020 - Shot Gazing
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  • December 2019 - The Dreaded High Bouncing Moonball Dilemma
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  • November 2019 - Chalk Flew: Troublesome Line Calling without Hawkeye in Clubland [read more]
  • October 2019 - In the Spirit of Don't Drink and Drive… Don't Think and Hit [read more]
  • September 2019 - Old School vs New School [read more]
  • August 2019 - Getting the Ball Where You Want It [read more]
  • July 2019 - Taking Points Off…What? [read more]
  • June 2019 - Confidence Is Confidence: Take It Wherever You Can Get It [read more]
  • May 2019 - TENNIS INNOVATION IMPLODES [read more]
  • April 2019 - Defending the Court with Older Bones: A Club Player's Guide to Saying "Nice Shot" Less [read more]
  • March 2019 - Do You Have Doubles Rally Tolerance? [read more]
  • February 2019 - I Knew Jimy Van Alen: A Historical Look Back [read more]
  • January 2019 - The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste: Mental Toughness Skills [read more]


  • December 2018 - Less Bling is the Thing [read more]
  • November 2018 - Anatomy of a Doubles Serve Return…from the Inside Out [read more]
  • October 2018 - Older Dogs and New Tricks: Still Improving at Any Age [read more]
  • September 2018 - The All-Important Dynamic of Gripping [read more]
  • August 2018 - The Cinemascope Syndrome: Undermining Your Ball Watching [read more]
  • June 2018 - Serving and Returning Better with a Quiet Eye [read more]
  • May 2018 - The Man Who Breathed for Two [read more]
  • January 2018 - Rituals Anyone? [read more]


  • December 2017 - Why Serving is so Difficult in Clubland [read more]
  • October 2017 - Managing your body and mind in tennis space [read more]
  • August 2017 - Why Bother Breathing to Improve Your Game [read more]
  • May 2017 - The "Maintaining" One's Game as One Ages Fallacy [read more]
  • February 2017 - Punta Gorda Tennis Clubs: Setting the Bar [read more]
  • January 2017 - State of the Club Game: The Growing Death of Sportsmanship [read more]

Check back often for more essays.