The 6 Hardest & Most Difficult Shots In Tennis (Explained)

There are many different shots in tennis, some a little easier to execute than others. Certain shots require a lot of technique and skill from a player. But what is the hardest shot in tennis?

The hardest shots in tennis are the backhand smash, tweener, serve, dropshot, backhand drive volley, and the approach shot. These shots require a lot of technique and skill from a player to be executed correctly.

In the remainder of this article, I will explain why these shots are so difficult in tennis. Therefore, read on to find out.

What is The Hardest Shot in Tennis?

Tennis is one of the most complex and difficult sports in the world. It requires technique, physical strength, coordination, speed, and great mental fortitude.

Each and every shot requires talent and skill, but what is the most difficult shot in tennis?

Keep reading to find out.

1. Backhand smash

Quite possibly the most beautiful and mesmerizing shot in tennis, and mastered by one of tennis’s best-ever players, Roger Federer.

The backhand smash happens when a player is lobbed on their backhand side and doesn’t have time to adjust to a forehand smash.

Players will only ever hit this shot out of absolute necessity and avoid it the rest of the time.

It is one of the rarer shots in tennis, but it is sure always to get a reaction from the crowd.

Why is the backhand smash so hard?

It is so much harder than a normal smash because of how difficult it is to generate power with your arm in that position.

You can test it out yourself:

Try throwing a tennis ball with your palm facing away from you as you usually would. Then throw the ball with your palm facing inwards, and you’ll see that you generate far less power. 

As well as that, it only ever happens when you’re being lobbed, which will mostly put you in an uncomfortable position.

However, if you can pull it off, then you are sure to have the admiration of anyone who saw the shot!

2. Tweener

A tweener is any shot in tennis that is hit between the player’s legs (in between → tweener). Mainly, this occurs when a player is lobbed and running back towards the baseline.

Lacking time to turn around, the player has to hit the ball through their legs to get it back.

A very flashy shot; it often gets the crowd going. Some players also hit tweeners to showboat.

Without being lobbed, players may hit a tweener out of necessity in extremely rare situations.

For example, if the ball is hit hard at them, they only have time to move their racket and not their feet.

Why is the tweener so hard?

Usually, players rush back from the net after being lobbed when they hit a tweener.

This means that the player is running fast, can not see the court, and has to carefully hit the ball so that they don’t hit themselves instead. 

It requires a lot of technique. On top of that, players often try to lob their opponent back from the tweener or hit a passing shot.

This is because players often go to the net after they lobbed their opponent to keep the pressure up.

So, not only is the tweener a very difficult shot to hit in training, in a match, you will likely need to try and hit the ball hard or lob it back, making a tricky shot a lot even trickier.

3. Serve

Tennis player serving

Every point in a tennis match begins with a serve. This makes it the most common shot in all of tennis. Every player has to do it every other game.

It is impossible to have a point in tennis without a serve, contrary to literally every single other shot in the book. 

The first serve is hit with considerable power or spin, or both. Good servers have a massive advantage because the receiver is on the back foot from the beginning of the point. 

It is such a big advantage that some players are referred to as “serve bots,” like Milos Raonic and John Isner.

A serve bot is a player whose strategy revolves almost entirely around their serve. These types of players are also the ones hitting the most aces in tennis.

Thanks to this powerful serve, they can beat far better players if their opponent can’t deal with it adequately. 

If a player misses their first serve, they get a second serve. Usually, this will be a slower shot with lots of spin.

This allows the server more consistency to be confident of getting the serve in and avoiding a double fault.

The spin is also to put the opponent in an uncomfortable position, so they don’t get an easy shot from the serve. 

It is worth saying that some players choose to hit a bigger second serve than the first serve. This technique is used by Nick Kyrgios, among others, who regularly smashes his second serve even harder than his first serve.

This is a hail mary shot and is a high-risk, high reward strategy that very few players use.

Why is the serve so hard?

There are lots and lots of reasons why a serve is so hard. Firstly, it is the only shot in tennis with a smaller target zone, as serves can only go into the opposite service box. 

Overhead shots generate more power, but they are also far more inconsistent.

The ball far above the server’s head allows them to get some serious speed, but it is less precise than a forehand or a backhand. 

Serves are also one of the most psychological shots in tennis. You don’t really have that much time to think during points, but you always have time to think before a serve.

If it starts going wrong, it can take a big psychological toll on a player. This is particularly true for the second serve.

The second serve usually puts a lot of pressure on a player, especially during important points in a match.

Once a player commits a double fault, the likelihood of that happening increases, and this applies from beginners to the pros.

Any shot that is so important and so common is bound to be one of the most difficult shots in tennis.

4. Dropshot

The dropshot is a fascinating shot. It is when a player hits the ball softly so that it barely travels over the net.

The opponent needs to get to it before the second bounce without touching the net, and it is a very useful shot. 

The more backwards spin on the ball for a dropshot, the better.

Some dropshots are so good that they bounce once on the opponent’s side and then travel back over the net and bounce on the other player’s side (in this case, the player who hit the dropshot wins the point)

Some players really like using dropshots, while others barely ever employ them.

They are an excellent tool for catching your opponent off guard and getting to run. Well-hit dropshots are a nightmare to deal with.

Why is the dropshot so hard?

Firstly, it is technically a difficult shot to hit.

Being able to softly hit the ball over the net is a skill that needs to be developed and takes a lot of instinct, feel for the ball, and practice. 

If you don’t hit your dropshot correctly, it won’t go over the net, and you lose the point.

If you overhit your dropshot, you give your opponent a chance to attack, and usually, you are not in the best position, so you are giving a serious advantage to your opponent. 

It is also difficult to know when the right time for a dropshot is.

If you can mask your dropshot, it can easily win you the point, but if you start using lots of dropshots, your opponent will be ready for them.

Of course, you can use that to your advantage, but unless your drop shots are good enough to win points consistently, you will find yourself in trouble.

5. Backhand drive volley

The backhand drive volley is when a player steps inside the court and hits a full backhand without letting the ball bounce.

It differs from a volley because volleys tend to be shorter movements, whereas a backhand drive volley looks just like a backhand. 

It is called a drive volley because the player attempts to drill it, usually down the line.

It serves as an attack, and because of how early the player hits the ball, the opponent has little time to react. On top of that, players can get lots of speed on these types of shots.

Why is the backhand drive volley so hard?

Like the tweener, this is another shot that requires a lot of technique.

Players who hit this shot are usually brimming with confidence because of how difficult the shot is. 

Because you are not letting the ball bounce, it is harder to judge the ball’s flight, and the ball usually arrives quicker. You also have less time to set yourself.

That’s why many tennis coaches prefer that you let the ball bounce and take your time. 

However, if you can hit this shot, it is usually very efficient and looks very cool.

For most players, backhands are more difficult than forehands. The backhand drive volley takes that backhand and makes it the most difficult it can possibly be.

6. Approach

An approach shot is a shot that a player hits to transition from the back of the court to the net.

This is usually done when the opponent hits a weaker or shorter shot and gives the other player the upper hand in the point—the player going to the net hopes to finish off the point quickly.

Approach shots can take a lot of different shapes.

Sometimes, they are sliced so that the ball doesn’t bounce very high, and the opponent doesn’t have any option other than to try and get the ball in the court. 

However, approach shots can also be hit hard or slowly. It is any shot that allows the player to rush to the net straight after.

Why is the approach shot so hard?

Firstly, the approach shot can be easy.

If your opponent is on one side of the court, you can just make sure the approach shot is hit to the other side of the court without worrying too much about technique. 

What makes the approach shot difficult is knowing when to do it.

If you get it wrong, then you’ll find yourself standing in the middle of the court, and your opponent will have an open court to put the point away. 

The approach shot is an aggressive shot; it takes control of the point. It also takes bravery. Players are sometimes scared to take control of the point and would rather continue the rally.

Fortune favors the brave, so the approach shot is crucial to add to your tennis repertoire despite its difficulty.

Conclusion

I hope this article has given you a good idea of the most difficult shots in tennis.

Although some of these shots are not common, especially at the amateur level, training on them can be a good idea.

If you can master all the tennis strokes, you will be more confident on the court and harder to beat.

Brian Henderson

I am what you might call a true tennis fanatic. When I am not on the tennis court teaching or playing myself, I am probably writing an informative article about tennis. My goal is to get as many people as possible excited and informed about tennis.
Published: 
March 9, 2022

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Published: March 9, 2022