Out of print, but still sometimes obtainable used from Amazon.com via the link above.
Tennis Strokes and Strategies: The Classic Instruction Series is a truly excellent compilation of tennis training articles that appeared in Tennis Magazine between 1972 and 1975. These articles are written by such reliable authorities as Margaret Smith Court, Alice Marble, Pauline Betz Addie, Doris Hart, Rod Laver, Jack Kramer, Ken Rosewall, Arthur Ashe, Don Budge, Roy Emerson, Tony Trabert, John Newcombe, Harry Hopman, Vic Braden, and more. In addition to the great tennis player-authors, the book has the advantage over other instructional guides of being made up of articles that are both concise and well-illustrated. Since the material originally appeared in Tennis Magazine, space limitations mandated that the authors make their points clearly but briefly. Some training books leave the reader wandering through a meandering swamp of lengthy explanations. Tennis Strokes and Strategies is "just the facts, ma'am"--with good pictures and illustrations. This book, unfortunately, is not available used as often as some others-- possibly because those who have them do not want to part with them. If you can't find one to purchase, you might find a copy at a library.
Get the Drop on Your Opponent by Doris Hart (pages 159-161):|
The drop shot is one of the most underrated and underutilized strokes in present-day tennis. I've always made heavy use of it because I like its element of surprise. The drop shot can be disguised so well that your opponent is kept guessing right up to the last second. Besides, a mixture of drop shots and lobs will force your adversary to run up to the net and then rush back to the baseline. This tactic eventually wears out even the toughest players...
Perhaps the most important strategic value of the drop shot is that it disrupts the steady baseliner. Some of today's young players, especially the girls, can stand at the baseline and rally all day. A well-executed drop shot will bring a baseliner scrambling to the net, making him or her vulnerable to a good passing shot or a deep lob...
When to "Drop"
Strategically, the best time to employ a drop shot is when your opponent is on the baseline and hits a ball that bounces short inside your service line. A weak second service is a good example. Since many players do not rush the net after serving, you can generally drop-shot a weak second serve with ease. Unlike many other situations that call for the use of a drop shot, in this one it's often a winner, particularly if you put enough backspin on the stroke.
Almost any situation in which the opposing player is badly out of position is ideal for a drop shot...
Whenever you decide to drop shot, don't hang back. Always follow the shot up to the net. Chances are your opponent, if he gets to the ball, will drop-shot right back to you and you'll have to be close to the net in order to return it at all...
...try to volley any ball returned off your drop shot. That way, you stand a good chance of passing your opponent--who will, most likely, be close to the net unless his anticipation has been very good.
...Even a bad drop shot will cause your opponent to run around, and in the long run, that will tire him.
...If you have practiced the drop shot sufficiently, you should be able to drop-shot from the baseline, particularly off a medium-pace ball. That is where the element of surprise really counts, because your opponent will not expect you to try the shot from that position. If you do it successfully, you can keep your opponent guessing for the rest of the match...
I can't emphasize enough the need to learn the drop shot as early as you can and to practice it as frequently as possible. Have someone go out onto the court with you and feed you medium-pace shots at both service line and baseline. Try to build your confidence, especially with angled drop shots. Learn to use this underrated shot and see how easily it can demoralize your opponent.
The Topspin Lob by Rod Laver (pages 108-112):|
...There is obvious satisfaction in hitting an effective topspin lob. It is tough shot for your opponent to return, and it requires a high degree of stroking expertise, so that you'll feel pleased with your accomplishment. Unfortunately, the skill that's needed for an offensive topspin lob is difficult to obtain. I've been hitting it since I was 10 years old and I still muff the shot from time to time. It is fair to say that you should have a good topspin groundstroke before you attempt the lob...
The topspin lob is easiest to stroke on slow surfaces, where the ball stands up relatively high so that the racquet can come under the flight of the ball, whip rapidly over it and then finish very high...
As with any tennis stroke, you should begin with good footwork. You must quickly get side-on to the flight of the ball... As you begin to run for the ball, start your backswing at the same time. I recommend an almost straight backswing, with a looping forward swing that comes up underneath the flight of the ball... This swing closely resembles my conventional topspin forehand groundstroke, so that I can disguise the lob right up to the last second...
The forward swing for a topspin lob is one of the few situations in which it's permissible to drop your racquet head below the level of your hand... This occurs because I cock my wrist during the backswing and uncock the wrist at the point of impact so that the racquet head is moving very fast to put maximum spin on the ball...
You should contact the ball with the racquet face almost vertical and moving upward in a rapid flicking motion. You should hit forward and through the ball, but the racquet should momentarily grip the ball with an uncocking of your wrist and a turning of your forearm at the same time to create the topspin. You must have a firm grip to hit this shot. A slight mishit off center will cause the racquet to spin in your hand unless you grip the handle tightly. A badly mis-hit shot will cause you to lose so much control that you'll probably slam the ball over the fence, just as I have done many times...
I find it best to contact the ball just behind my front foot, about waist high... I generally hit this shot with my weight on my back foot, a practice that is often condemned by teaching pros. Nonetheless, hitting off my back foot helps me get the flicking action and assists me in continuing the follow-through upward before my arm comes across my body.
The follow-through should be as full as possible. After you hit the ball, your arm should come upward sharply and finish almost directly overhead, with your body open--that is, facing the net. I prefer to continue the follow-through across my body...
When the opportunity arises, you should hit your lobs crosscourt, corner to corner. This will give you a the maximum length and a little more margin for error...
Although the topspin lob is used sparingly in an actual match, it's a shot that needs plenty of practice. For practice you should have your partner hit medium-paced balls that bounce between the service line and the baseline. The balls should bounce at least waist high...
In practicing, make sure that you're side-on to the ball's flight, and remember to get your front foot out across your body before you hit. This allows you to uncoil your body as you make the stroke, helping you get the whippy action that the stroke demands...
When you come to use a topspin lob in a match, there are three points that you should keep in mind:
1. Early preparation is essential for this shot. Get into position quickly and keep your eyes on the ball throughout the stroke.
2. Whip the racquet up and over the ball as quickly as possible, but keep the ball in the center of the racquet. If it rolls to the edge you'll have a double hit, most likely.
3. Don't abbreviate your follow-through. Follow the ball upward and forward in the desired direction of the shot.
...You have to be well-coordinated even to try the topspin lob. Many of our students at Laver/Emerson Tennis Weeks ask to be taught this shot, but Roy Emerson and I advise its use only by players who already have an excellent ground-stroke repertoire.
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