Understanding the Chip

At its core, the chip is a soft, slicing stroke that imparts backspin onto the ball. Instead of the usual topspin most players impart on their groundstrokes, the chip sends the ball in a low trajectory, causing it to skid and stay low after the bounce.

The motion is typically more horizontal than the regular swing, with the racket moving forward and slightly downward.

Why is So Important

  1. Change of Pace: Tennis and other racket sports often involve rapid exchanges. Throwing in a chip can disrupt the rhythm of the opponent, forcing them to adjust to a different ball speed and bounce.
  2. Playing against Power Players: Against opponents with heavy groundstrokes, the chip can be a great defensive tool. By keeping the ball low, it makes it difficult for the opponent to generate power, especially on the return.
  3. Approaching the Net: The chip is often used as an approach shot. When executed correctly, it forces the opponent to hit up on the ball, providing the net rusher an opportunity to finish the point with a volley.

When and How to Use It

While the chip is a versatile shot, using it effectively requires understanding and strategy. Here’s when and how players might consider using the chip:

  1. Return of Serve: Particularly in tennis, many players use the chip to return powerful serves, especially on grass courts where the ball tends to stay low. The backspin makes it hard for the server to immediately hit an aggressive shot after.
  2. Against Baseline Powerhouses: If you’re up against a player who thrives on rhythm and power from the baseline, chipping can disrupt their game. A well-timed chip can rob them of the speed they need for their shots.
  3. On Faster Surfaces: On surfaces like grass or fast hard courts, where the ball naturally skids and stays low, the chip can be especially effective.

Examples in Play

Imagine you’re watching a tennis match on a grass court. One player has a particularly strong serve, sending the ball rocketing to the other side. Instead of attempting a full swing for the return, the receiver deftly uses a chip. The ball, instead of rising, skids through, staying low. The server, expecting a different bounce, struggles to adjust, and the point is won by the receiver.

In another scenario, during a fast-paced rally, one player suddenly employs the chip, sending a low, skidding shot to the opponent’s baseline. The opponent, caught off-guard, scrambles to reach the ball, giving the chipper a chance to approach the net and dominate the point.

Chip and Charge


In the high-speed world of racket sports, where power and precision rule, the chip stands out as a testament to the finesse and strategic depth of the game. It’s a reminder that brute force isn’t the only path to victory; sometimes, a soft touch and a well-timed change of pace can prove just as lethal.

While it might not possess the flamboyance of a smashing overhead or the drama of a long rally, the chip has its unique charm. It’s a nod to the intricacies of the sport and a salute to players who, amidst the barrage of power shots, have the presence of mind to change the script and keep their opponents guessing. In the grand game of chess that is racket sports, the chip is a masterful move, ever ready to checkmate the unwary opponent.