9 Best Tennis Trick Shots and How to Hit Them

Trick shots in tennis are great to watch. They bring an element of entertainment to what can be a brutal and physically demanding sport.

You may think that trick shots are only reserved for the professionals, but with this simple guide, you’ll get to grips with the best tennis trick shots and learn how to hit them, step by step.

Why Is It Important to Know How to Hit Tennis Trick Shots?

Here at The Tennis Bros, we like to bring tennis instructions and helpful tips down to earth, to help recreational players get the most out of their game. 

This includes covering the fundamentals of tactics and technique, the physical and mental side of the game, as well as helping you understand how to get the best out of your equipment. 

With that being said, tennis is also about having fun, and there aren’t many more satisfying feelings than nailing a trick shot in front of your friends. 

On the other hand, getting a trick shot wrong can be embarrassing and put you at risk of injury. 

Therefore, while learning how to hit tennis trick shots may not be the most useful or time-efficient way of improving your game, it can be very satisfying and enjoyable to know you can pull out a hot dog when you need it.

The 9 Best Tennis Trick Shots and How to Hit Them

Here is our list of the best tennis trick shots and how to hit them. We’ve compiled a range of popular trick shots that you can try for yourself, along with a few variations and how you can hit them step by step. 

So, let’s dive into it!

  1. The Hot Dog

Arguably the most popular and iconic tennis trick shot out there is the hot dog. 

Also known as the tweener, this through-the-legs shot is typically played after a player gets lobbed and is running back to retrieve the shot, with no real options to be aggressive from this position. 

Therefore, the hot dog is a great get-out-of-jail shot that brings the element of surprise to the court and can turn a defensive situation into a point-winning one with just a single shot. 

The hot dog looks spectacular when done right, but also disastrous when it goes wrong. 

To make sure you play the hot dog the right way, the key is to run directly toward the ball, and as it starts to fall down to ground level, run more quickly and allow the ball to travel through your legs. 

Then, take a small swing through your legs to strike the ball as it passes past your ankles, and let your racket follow through. 

This definitely takes some practice and it is vital to get the timing right as you run past the ball. However, pull this off and the crowd will go wild. 

Here are some of the most iconic hot dogs caught on camera: 

Roger Federer US Open 2009:


Nick Kyrgios Tweener Compilation:


Rafa Nadal Madrid 2011:

2. Behind the Back Shots

Another great trick shot to try and master is the behind-the-back shot. These tend to be quick reaction shots that are a form of improvisation when a ball is hit to your backhand side too quickly. 

In this case, it can sometimes be quicker (although not necessarily easier) to hit a behind-the-back shot rather than changing to a backhand. This requires a great deal of hand-eye coordination so is not something you’ll see every day. 

To hit a behind-the-back shot, you’ll need to be side-on as if you are going to hit a forehand volley. Then, if your opponent hits a ball to your backhand, you should move your racket past your back so there is enough of the racket face that can come into contact with the ball. 

Hopefully, if you make contact cleanly, the ball will fly off your racket back onto your opponent’s side of the net for a winner. 

Here are some of the professionals showing us how it’s done: 

Yoshihito Nishioka Aptos Challenger 2015: 

Carlos Alcaraz US Open 2022:

Roger Federer Halle 2015: 

Grigor Dimitrov Basel 2013:

3. Extreme Backspin Drop Shots

One of the most impressive and relatively attainable trick shots on our list is the extreme backspin drop shot. These tend to be played off the backhand side and see a player hitting an insane amount of backspin on the ball so it flies up high and drops every short onto the opponent’s side of the net. 

The idea here is to stop the ball dead in its tracks and get the ball spinning back toward you. 

To do this, you’ll need to cut underneath the ball and turn your racket sharply as you make contact. 

As the ball is coming towards you, open up your racket face so the strings are pointing upwards. Then, as the ball comes closer, you’ll want to open up the racket face even more and as you make contact, try to drive your racket underneath the ball to generate as much backspin as possible. 

There isn’t a lot of margin for error here and the ball could easily be framed, hit too hard, or end up back behind you. 

But, if you get this shot right and cut underneath the ball well enough, the extreme backspin drop shot is one of the most satisfying tennis trick shots you can play. 

If you generate enough spin and hit the ball high enough, it may even bounce back over onto your side of the court. 

Here are some of the most iconic extreme backspin drop shots that you can imitate: 

Benoit Paire Paris Masters 2015: 



Richard Gasquet Montreal 2013:

Pablo Cuevas Monte Carlo 2017:

4. The Head Fake

One of the more crafty trick shots out there is the head fake. This is a great way to wrong-foot your opponent and make them look a bit silly. 

The head fake has a high degree of difficulty attached to it, as you won’t actually be looking at where the ball is going when you hit it. 

However, this is a cheeky shot that can prove quite effective when both players are at the net. 

Simply look to go cross-court with your body and head, while hitting the ball down the line when you’re chasing down a drop shot, and there you go. 

Whilst this sounds straightforward, it is not an easy shot to pull off and requires great hands and court awareness. 

Here are a few examples of the head fake shot by some of the world’s best tennis players: 

Roger Federer Madrid 2010:


Adrian Mannarino Aculpulco 2018:

5. The Fake Drop Shot

A tennis trick shot that will wrong-foot your opponent and keep them guessing is the fake drop shot. This is a simple yet effective shot that will keep players on their toes and is actually quite a reliable shot to hit compared to some of the others on this list. 

This tends to work better on the forehand side, but all you need to do is shape up to hit a drop shot by opening up your racket face, and then instead of dropping the ball short, push it deep as your opponent starts to move inside the court. 

As their weight will be moving towards the net already, they’ll find it difficult to change direction quickly. 

Here is Roger Federer hitting the fake drop shot: 

Roger Federer US Open 2013: 

6. The Fake Smash

One of the most difficult tennis trick shots to time and execute effectively is the fake smash. This is one of the rarer trick shots that is usually reserved for exhibition matches, as it is a high-risk play that only really appeals to the crowd. 

Nonetheless, some players have brought out the fake smash in official matches and pulled off the shot brilliantly. 

To hit a fake smash, you’ll need to be close to the net and the ball should have already bounced. From here, the ball should be moving relatively slowly, giving you the opportunity to swing at the smash in plenty of time. 

As the ball starts to get towards head height, take your smash swing but instead of hitting the ball, swing your racket to the side of the ball and stop your swing as your racket is in front of your body, in a backhand volley position. 

Then, simply let the ball bounce off your racket softly and instead of hitting a powerful smash, you’ve instead hit a soft backhand drop volley. 

Here are some of the professionals showing you how it’s done: 

Victor Hanescu US Open 2017: 

Benoit Paire UTS 2021:

7. The Around-the-Net Shot

Another iconic tennis trick shot is the around-the-net shot. We have seen this plenty of times over the years from some of the best players of all time, but don’t think that this makes it an easy shot to hit. 

The around-the-net shot is only really an option when a player has been stretched out very wide and is able to find the angle to hit around the net post whilst still hitting the ball into the court. 

One of the unique things about the around-the-net shot is that the ball doesn’t actually have to travel above the height of the net. It can effectively hit a foot off the ground and still count. 

To hit the around-the-net post shot, it may actually be best to wait slightly before making contact with the ball, so you have more angle and court to work with. Simply try to bunt the ball into the court without hitting the net post itself. 

Here are a few examples of the around the net shot from some of the tennis world’s greatest players: 

Andy Murray Australian Open 2010:

Rafael Nadal US Open 2019:

Roger Federer US Open 2018:

8. The Sky Hook

The sky hook is a tennis trick shot that many recreational players may not have heard of, but may have actually tried at some point without realizing it. 

The sky hook is a reverse smash from behind the back that is hit when a player can’t quite reach a ball and has to flick it with their wrist from behind them. 

It makes for quite a spectacular shot to witness, and we have seen it brought out on the match court a number of times over the years. 

To hit a sky hook, a lob will be hit and instead of hitting a smash, the ball must have traveled past you so it is now behind you. Instead of hitting a conventional smash, turn your back to the court and hit the ball over your shoulder so it still bounces down into the court, but with more spin and less power. 

Here’s Rafael Nadal’s sky hook in action:

9. The SABR

The final trick shot on our list is the SABR. This stands for the Sneak Attack by Roger and is a shot that was coined by the great Federer himself. 

This tennis trick shot involves taking the return of serve very early and half volleying it, to the surprise of your opponent. 

This takes great hand-eye coordination and anticipation skills, but when done right it can leave an opponent flat-footed and confused. 

To hit the SABR, you’ll need to sneak inside the court as your opponent is throwing up their ball toss to serve. Then, as they hit the serve, split step towards the direction the ball is going and half volley it back into the court (if you can). 

Rush into the net and the next shot should be a put-away volley.

Which is the Best Tennis Trick Shot? 

It’s not easy to pick one tennis trick shot that trumps all the rest of them. All tennis trick shots have their place and all can be very impressive to witness when done right. 

Arguably, the tennis trick shots with the highest degree of difficulty are the hot dog, the sky hook and fake smash, so these could be the most mesmerizing when done right. But again, it really comes down to what you like personally.

Next, It’s Time to Learn About The Tactical Side of Tennis 

Now you know how to hit some of the most iconic trick shots in tennis, it’s time to learn to use them effectively. 

The tactical side of tennis is an underrated area of the game that should be focussed on more by recreational players. Learning how to hit the right shots at the right time will help improve your game no end. 

That’s why we put together a dedicated course to help improve both your Singles Tactics and Doubles Tactics from the comfort of your own home, so check them out. 

Here are more free tennis resources to take your tactics to the next level: 

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