Tennishead magazine brings you the very best tennis articles, interviews with the great players, tennis gear and racket reviews, tennis coaching tips plus much more

How to hit a drop volley like Monfils


Originally published on: 25/08/11 10:01

‘How to hit a drop volley like Gael Monfils’ featured in the July 2011 issue of tennishead magazine. For more details on how to subscribe, click here.

Court positioning: Move forwards
It is difficult to generate pace off a slice drive, so don’t expect to hit many winners with it. Where you aim a slice is tactical – the beauty of a sliced approach is that the ball stays low, forcing opponents to hit up or resort to slice themselves. It is also easy to move forwards through the shot, enabling you to get to the net and further cut down your opponent’s angles and options.

Keep it simple: Finish the point
Don’t try to get too cute or clever when playing this kind of volley. More often than not, you’ll be on the attack if you decide you’re in a position to pull it off so don’t let the temptation to hit an inch-perfect drop volley stop you from finishing the point. Even if your opponent does manage to make it to the ball your court position will still enable you to cover what should be a weak reply to finally win the point.

Gael shows good technique on this drop volley. You need a racket position that’s higher than the ball so you can move the racket down to ‘cut’ the ball, creating the necessary backspin to stop it bouncing forward.

Key Point: You’re not looking for pace on this volley so keep the backswing short to help you control the ball

The left hand leaves the throat of the racket after doing its job of controlling the racket head and ensuring he has turned his shoulders. His knees have bent bringing his upper body and racket down to the ball.

The racket face has opened so he can carve down and across the ball to get the control he wants. He is low enough so that out of his peripheral vision he can see the top of the net which enables him to judge the loft he needs.

His right foot is still bearing his weight, allowing his left side to slide through the shot to carry him closer to the net so he can cover his opponent’s next shot should they be able to run down the drop volley.

You have two options to create the ‘softness’ a drop volley requires. One is to hold the racket loosely and allow it to absorb the pace of the ball. Alternatively, deliberately pull the racket back on contact or drop it down the back of the ball.

Golden rule: Recognising your opponent is on the defensive – either off-balance or very deep behind their baseline – will enhance your chances of success on this shot. Getting plenty of backspin on the ball is another key element.

Throughout the shot, he has looked like he could have been setting up for a normal volley. It is only now that his opponent will realise,
as the ball is in mid-flight, that the Frenchman has decided to go short.



Tim Farthing, Tennishead Editorial Director & Owner, has been a huge tennis fan his whole life. He's a tennis journalist and entrepreneur as well as playing tennis to a national standard. He also helps manage his local club and volunteers for his local tennis organisation. He's a specialist in content about the administration of professional tennis and tennis coaching for all levels.