The Shake and Bake Vs. The Stop and Drop

The Shake and Bake Vs. The Stop and Drop

Yeah I know. Stop N' Drop sounds kind of cheesy, but bear with kind of works. 

I get a lot of questions about the right decisions to make on third shots and transition balls. While I do offer some rules of thumb that help determine good shot selection, making the right decision isn't always so cut and dry. I try to work with my students on understanding the pro's and cons of each shot selection vs. whether it is right or wrong...some situations a certain shot may be right, in others, it may be wrong. 

When it comes to the shake n' bake or the stop n' drop (the slower approach through transition), we want to understand when to do which and the pros and cons of each. Each selection is a great option in it's own right, but timing is key when deciding what to do. I want to encourage you to stop thinking in terms of "right or wrong" and start thinking in terms of what shot selection is best in a certain situation.

Let's dive in...

The Shake N' Bake - The shake n' bake is a strategy that we use when we want to be aggressive with a 3rd shot drive and crash in towards the net quickly in hopes of picking off a high ball for a put-a-way. The biggest pro of the shake n' bake is that it is very aggressive and can end point relatively quickly. The biggest con is that it is a risky strategy that doesn't always work. So when should we use it?

     *At the beginning of a match - when we are playing against players we don't know, we want to test their hands and see if they can handle aggressive play. We may find out early on that the shake n' bake is a high percentage strategy against a particular team. If that is the case, keep doing it as long as it is bringing more success than not. 

     *When your opponents are stacking on the return - The best time to use the shake n' bake is when our opponents are out of position. If you use it when your opponents are trying to unwind a stack, you'll probably find that your percentages increase a little due to the extra movement. 

     *When you know you can't out-dink your opponents - If we know that our dinking game (or net game in general) doesn't level up to our opponents, it may mean we need to be a little more aggressive with the shake n' bake to try and steal some free points before the ball gets neutralized and dink rallies ensue. 

The Stop N' Drop - The stop n' drop is a more methodical approach through the transition zone. Whether we hit a 3rd shot drop or 3rd shot drive, we are looking to stop and get low for the next ball with the intention to reset or drop it into the kitchen in order to get to the kitchen line. The biggest pro of the stop n' drop method is that the percentage of getting to the kitchen line is a little higher. The con is that it is a little more passive and almost guarantees longer rallies. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, it just means we aren't being aggressive in a spot where we have the ability to be. You are banking on finding better attacking opportunities at the kitchen line vs, going for them in transition with this strategy. So when do we do the stop n' drop?

     *When the shake n' bake isn't working - Remember how I said we want to start matches by applying pressure with the shake n' bake? Well if we find that the shake n' bake isn't working in our favor, we need to move towards the stop n' drop to get to the kitchen line and find better opportunities to attack. 

     *When your partnership dynamics aren't on the same page - If we have a partner that doesn't feel comfortable driving for the shake, or crashing for the bake, you'll have better success working into the kitchen with a slower pace. Also, if either of you have trouble scrambling and digging hard balls at your feet while you are on the move, the stop n' drop will be a better option as is sets you up to handle those pressure balls a little easier by being stopped in a more balanced and ready position. 

     *When our dinking and net game can beat our opponents - You may find that even though you have some success with the shake n' bake, that you are having a really high success rate when you are getting to the kitchen line and dinking it out with your opponents. In a situation like that, you may just decide to play the high percentage game and avoid the risk of the shake n' bake altogether. If you are scoring a large majority of your points with a certain strategy, use that strategy as long as it's working!

Making good decisions needs to become a situational pursuit. It isn't always black and white and yes, there will be moments where we make a decision that wasn't best for that moment, However, if we know the pros and cons of each situation and how to adjust accordingly, we can really set ourself up for great success!

Please feel reach out to me if you have any comments or questions!

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