The touch game

Unlike the situation in squash, you can be a very successful racquetball player without ever hitting a drop shot. In squash, you are not allowed to hit the bottom18 inches of the front wall, so rollouts are impossible. One of the few ways to hit a kill shot is to hit a soft shot that floats to the front wall, just above the 18 inch line and then dies in the front court. So squash players tend to be good touch players. In racquetball, you are encouraged to hit the bottom of the front wall and, at least for many players, it is easier to hit low on the front wall with a hard shot than it is with a floater. On the other hand, some players are natural dinkers. If you are one of them, you don’t need to read this.

So, assuming you are not a natural drop shot artist, why would you want to learn how? I can think of only two reasons: (1) it is a gentle stroke that is easy on your body and (2) it’s fun.

When to hit a drop shot

There are many situations that could call for a drop shot. The first is essentially the same situation that calls for any rally-ending shot, namely, you are within 30 feet of the front wall and your opponent is behind you. At this point the usual recommendation depends on the height of the ball. If the ball is between waist and knee, hit a pass; if the ball is below your knee, hit a kill shot (pass-kill, pinch, reverse pinch, or splat). If you add a drop shot to your repertoire, you can hit a drop shot (which is a kill shot because it bounces twice before the short line) from between your waist and knee where you would normally hit a passing shot. This could end the rally immediately. Of course, if the ball is below your knee, or you move so that the ball drops below your knee, you can hit any shot, including a drop shot.

Another situation that is a natural for a drop shot is when the ball hits so far up on the front wall that it flies directly to the back wall and to within a few feet of the front wall without bouncing on the floor. Run up to the front court, close to the front wall. keeping eye on ball. Let the ball drop as low as you comfortably can (well below your knee) and then simply push it into the front wall for the down the line or into the corner for a soft pinch. (You can also blast the ball if you don’t want to dink it. You can also fake a blast and then dink or fake a dink and then blast it. You choose.)

If you are extremely confident, it is fun to hit drop shots anytime from anywhere. However, they are low percentage shots from the back court. (If you miss and hit it short, you skip; if you miss and leave it up you give your opponent a plum setup. In either case, you've lost that rally.)

How to hit a drop shot from the back court

To hit the drop shot from a setup, I recommend the following technique. Start from a modified ready position. Instead of bringing the elbow up to shoulder height, bring the racquet back as if you have already started your stroke with the butt of the racquet pointed toward your target and your elbow close to your body. Your racquet should be at about a 35 degree angle (somewhat flatter than in the following pictures (which are from the stroke tutorial).


Push the butt of the racquet past the ball, so that the ball contacts the strings at the sweet spot of the racquet. Don’t snap your wrist. Keep eye on ball. The target is about a foot up on the front wall. The ball will have some backspin, which helps it die quickly. Follow through gently. The only way to learn this shot is to practice. Start around the dotted line. Drop and hit a drop shot. After you get skillful from this point, you can move back and try from deeper court.


A drill for this situation is to simply hit the ball into the front wall 12 feet high or higher from center court so that it flies directly to the back wall without bouncing and then rebounds and drops close to the front wall. Start running as soon as you see that the ball will fly off the back wall. You don't want to arrive too late. Practice waiting patiently for the ball to drop before pushing it low into the front wall or corner. You should also practice blasting it, because if you always dink it, your opponent will eventually learn to charge the front wall and may re-kill it. If the ball is going to hit the front wall before bouncing (very rare but it can happen), then wait for it to rebound off the front wall and then kill it.

[What should you do if you hit this stupid shot and the ball is in the front court about to be dinked by your opponent? Answer:  Stay back most of the time. Make your opponent kill the ball. Don't let her get away with an easy pass. Charge the front wall occasionally, so that you are not predictable, but stay back more often. Remember, it would be a miracle if you don't lose this rally, so save your energy.]

Drop shots from center court

I once took a lesson from a squash pro. He said that if anyone hit the ball to him when he was at the T (good center court position on a squash court) he always killed the ball with a gentle front wall to side wall nick that would crack out. He had practiced this shot so often that he virtually never missed. This sounded like a great idea. Remember, if you are in good center court position, you should try to stay there. Don't give up this prime real estate unless you absolutely have to. Just because the ball is likely to come off the back wall doesn't mean you should go back there to wait for the setup. You are letting your opponent have the best place on the court.

So, if you are in good center court position and the ball comes to you anywhere between chest and knee, volley it. Assume that you are in the ready position with the racquet held horizontally across your body. Punch the ball with the racquet strings pointing toward the intended target using a jabbing motion. Your target is usually one of the corners. If the ball is below your waist, and you have time, you can often hit a drop shot using the drop shot stroke technique outlined above. If you are jammed, so that the ball is right at your feet, you can drop the head of the racquet so that it is almost perpendicular to the floor and give it a little wrist snap to get the ball to hit low on the front wall. 

Desperation drop shot

Suppose the ball is just about to die in the front court or mid-court and you are running like mad just to get your racquet on it. In this situation, run with the racquet in front of you, face up at a 35 degree angle, so when you do finally arrive, you can slip the racquet under the ball. Your momentum from running plus the upward lift provided by the open racquet is frequently enough to get the ball to the front wall, where it dies. If you have time, you can flick it upwards to generate a ceiling ball or reverse ceiling ball.

More drills

A good drill to practice the touch game is to stand on the foot fault line in the middle of the court and rally with yourself, hitting only dink shots. Try to get the ball to bounce straight back so that it doesn't get past you. Hit 10 good dink shots that hit low on the front wall. Now move back to the short line and repeat the exercise. Try not to let the ball get by you. Finally, move to the dotted line and repeat. Now the goal is to get the ball to bounce twice before the short line for a kill. This drill teaches you how the drop shot feels on the racquet. It also trains your muscles to hit the shot with the right amount of "touch."

Another good drill is to stand in good center court position, two feet behind the dotted line, and hit low, hard shots directly back at yourself. Rally with yourself, trying to kill the ball with drop shots. You will find that your shots are better the longer you keep your eye on the ball, so this is a good exercise to practice keeping eye on ball. Practice punching the ball into the front wall or corner if you are jammed and hitting the nice drop shot with the stroke mechanics outlined above when you have time. Again, the goal is to hit a winner while not letting the ball go by. (Later on you will want to become less predictable in this position. Mix in some ceiling balls, hard passes, pinches, etc. with your drop shots so your muscles don't do the same thing every time. See the section on court positioning.) For a short video showing a variety of drop shot techniques, click here.