In tennis, there are quite a few specialty shots, which are hit in specific situations when the previously mentioned shots are not ideal or may be hard to execute.
As the name implies, you’ll hit an approach shot as you move toward the net, which makes it perfect from transitioning from the baseline.
Approach shots can be hit as a forehand or backhand, and they’ll usually occur when the opposing player hits the ball short in the court, allowing you to step in and move forward and into the ball.
The approach shot can be effective as it puts pressure on your opponent. If executed effectively, it allows you to take control of the point and close it out while at the net.
The passing shot is one that players hit when their opponent is at the net, and they attempt to hit past them without them touching the ball.
Passing shots tend to put quite a bit of pressure on you to make a great shot, which can force many players to go for too much. However, execute well, and you’ll put just as much pressure on your opponent while having the opportunity to leave your opponent demoralized at the net.
Players can hit lob can in a few different scenarios. First, as a player approaches the net, there is a tendency to far forward. To an extent, getting closer to the net allows players to cut off the angles their opponent can hit, which can make it more difficult for you to pass them.
However, by over closing, your opponent presents you with the opportunity to lob them. A lob is simply a forehand or backhand that is hit well over the top of your opponent’s head so that it lands deep in the court, toward the baseline.
In this case, if they have enough preparation, many players will opt to hit the lob with some amount of topspin with their typical forehand or backhand grip. Otherwise, players will use the continental grip to send the ball up over their opponent’s head.
Lobs can be a great shot to hit in defensive scenarios. For example, if your opponent forces you off to the side of the court and you have to chase down the ball, then the lob can be a great shot to keep the ball in play.
Your opponent is likely to close the net in this situation, so a high lob can buy you some time to move back into position on the court and also force your opponent to hit at least one more shot to close out the point.
Similarly, if your opponent is at the net and they hit an aggressive shot toward you, it can often be difficult to react quickly. As a result, the lob can be a great tactic to quickly block the ball back and keep the ball in play, which also allows you to prepare for the next shot they hit.
The overhead is a shot in tennis that players will typically hit off of a lob. If you are moving toward the net and putting pressure on your opponent, you will often find that they’ll hit a lob.
Since the lob can be challenging to execute, you’ll find that many of them end up right over your head when you’re at the net.
In this case, you’ll have the opportunity to hit an overhead, which is essentially a slightly modified version of your serve while you’re on the move at the net.
Just like a serve, you’ll hit overheads using the continental grip.
The drop shot is a more advanced shot that players hit when their opponent is at the baseline. Drop shots are difficult to execute because they often require the element of surprise and superior control over the ball, commonly referred to as “touch.”
One likely scenario for a drop shot is if you’re in a rally with your opponent, and you find them a little off-balance after hitting one of their shots.
If you recognize this, you may opt to very carefully slice the ball back over the net with as little power as possible to ensure it just clears the net and lands only a few feet from the net, so your opponent doesn’t have time to sprint forward and put the ball back in play.
Chip and Charge
The chip and charge is a specialty return of serve where you step into the court when returning the ball. Using a continental grip, you slice, or chip, the ball back to the opposite side of the court, while you simultaneously move towards the net to set yourself up for a volley.
If executed well, the chip and charge can be a great combination to quickly put pressure on your opponent right after they serve and position yourself to take control of the point at the net.
However, if executed poorly, the chip and charge can also set up your opponent for an easy passing shot.
A putaway shot isn’t a particular technical form of a shot. Instead, it refers to hitting the ball past your opponent when you’re at the net.
If you hit a great approach shot, pushing your opponent off to the side of the court, and they hit a groundstroke right back at you, then you’ll want to “put away” the volley into the open court so that they don’t have the opportunity to hit yet another shot.
A winner is an expression used to describe any shot you hit successfully into the opposite side of the court out of your opponent’s reach.
A successful passing shot is a winner, an overhead that your opponent can’t get to is a winner, and a forehand hit crosscourt or down the line that your opponent can’t quite reach are also winners.
I’ve saved the tweener for last because players usually hit it for its entertainment value rather than its efficacy.
A tweener is considered any shot hit in between the legs. However, most think of a true tweener as a shot hit off of a tough lob.
In this situation, the player needs to run down the ball while facing away from the net. To hit a tweener, the player will let the ball bounce in front of themselves. Then, as the ball drops back toward the court, they step perfectly in front of the ball so that it reaches height just below their knees so they can hit between their legs and send the ball flying through their legs and back over the other side of the court.
If it sounds hard, it is. Few players can do it well under pressure. However, there have been some amazing tweeners hit by professionals during competition.