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View Full Version : In doubles, How to volley fast balls hit directly at you?


jkhtennis
09-10-2004, 06:16 AM
My partner and I lost a close doubles match last night. My partner isn't a very powerful player and when he didn't get the ball (return or rally) deep, our opponents would hit fast paced balls directly at me and I dumped most of them into the net. I missed quite a few volleys that even a fear factor crept up in my mind and I couldn't be that aggressive at the net any more. Besides the fact that I am not consistent enough at the net and I couldn't see the ball direction early enough to prepare the racket face, any other tips? I was standing between the net and the service line when my partner serves, maybe I should have moved a little closer to the net, but that will further cut my reaction time. BB, Mahboob and other experts, help!!!!

Rickson
09-10-2004, 07:17 AM
You should either tell your partner to hit more powerful groundstrokes or dump him altogether. You shouldn't be at the net with a fluff shot partner, you can really get hurt that way.

chaduke
09-10-2004, 09:07 AM
If you can, find a partner and do volley drills with both of you up at the net. Your reaction time will get a lot better and it'll help with the fear thing too. I find that being afraid of getting hit by a hard ball is mostly from not really knowing how to handle them. Drilling will help you get a feel for it. This is also something you'll have to practice regularly, if you don't you can lose it pretty fast, sort of like overheads.

Camilio Pascual
09-10-2004, 09:23 AM
Well, you are better off with a BH grip than a FH one with balls hit directly at you.
Are you making sure that you are up on the balls of your feet in time? Make sure you are not standing flat-footed on your heels so you can maneuver easier. This is easier said than done, I have a similar problem on any volleys other than approach volleys because I end up standing flatfooted a lot even though I know better. Good luck.

jkhtennis
09-10-2004, 11:30 AM
If you can, find a partner and do volley drills with both of you up at the net. Your reaction time will get a lot better and it'll help with the fear thing too. I find that being afraid of getting hit by a hard ball is mostly from not really knowing how to handle them. Drilling will help you get a feel for it. This is also something you'll have to practice regularly, if you don't you can lose it pretty fast, sort of like overheads.

Thanks, Chaduke. I sometimes do volley drills with my partner. Also I volley again the wall once every week for 20 minutes as a warm-up routine (it's very tiring though). It did help improve my volley and reaction. I am a strong 4.0 player and most of times when I play doubles, I am not afraid of being hit since my opponents are not that good (they are either soft or hard-hitting without great control or do not take the ball very early). Last night this guy we played is a strong 4.5 player and he kept giving me hard balls either out of my comfort zone or directly at me. I was frustrated that I could not read the ball directions and I buries a lot of volleys to the net. I tried to do the same thing to him, but he could use my pace and block the ball back. After the match, this guy said I still have too much swing on my volleys. For fast-paced balls, I really need to focus on keeping the racket in front and JUST BLOCK the ball, but it's easier said than done. Sigh....

jkhtennis
09-10-2004, 11:44 AM
Well, you are better off with a BH grip than a FH one with balls hit directly at you.
Are you making sure that you are up on the balls of your feet in time? Make sure you are not standing flat-footed on your heels so you can maneuver easier. This is easier said than done, I have a similar problem on any volleys other than approach volleys because I end up standing flatfooted a lot even though I know better. Good luck.

Thanks, Camilio Pascual. I really don't have time to change grip from continental to BH grip. You are right, it is easier to block the ball back using backhand volley. I also noticed that I could hit approach volleys better. The problem is a lot of times when the ball is close to me, I hit the volley with open stance without moving my feet. I know all the text books talk about split step and move the feet to hit the ball in front, but when the ball is fast, it is tough to do that. Are there practice drills for improving volley footwork patterns?

My other volley problem is on my backhand side. My racket face for the backhand volley is too open because I always tend to slice the ball back. When the ball is fast, it is very easier to pop up or go long. It's not eaiser to force myself not to put backspin but just block the ball back.

papa
09-10-2004, 03:43 PM
I think if you get in the habit of just punching the return so that the racquet head only moves a couple of inches it should help. If nothing else, keeping the racquet up and in front gives you a good safety shield.

Bungalo Bill
09-10-2004, 05:20 PM
Those volleys are called "reflex" volleys. The waiting grip should be very close to a pure continental. About the only thing you have time to think about is how to move your shoulders in either direction and get your racquet face up to deflect the ball for a putaway.

The reflex volley needs to be practiced. It is a bit different then the normal volley in that you do not have time for anything! No backswing, barely a grip adjustment, and barely enough time to move your head out of the way before you get stamped.

You need to practice this one and improve your reflexes for these volleys. Practicing against a backboard really helps your reflex volleys. Also, strengthening your legs, shoulders and forearms help as well.

There should be only one target for those volleys that you hit to when you are at the net. In other words, you should only be thinking of putting the ball to only one place if it comes to you. The racquet face angle when you bring the racquet to the ball should match the chosen target.

For example, the other day I was playing against a player that hits a monstrous forehand (I also felt like I was on the "FEAR FACTOR" TV show against him at the net). He hit a ball at me so hard, I swear it must have almost broke the sound barrier as it was screaming towards my backhand side (I was in the AD court, and I am lefthanded).

The only thing I had time for was to get my racquet up, angle the face while I was bringing it up so the ball would be deflected through the hole behind the netman and in front of him at an angle towards the duece side. He ripped two of them at me and I was fortunate to deflect both of them through the hole. No question my eyes were big and my heart racing on both of them. He hits his forehand with tremendous velocity.

I also use a twohanded backhand volley so it is much easier for me to really pop those kinds of balls through the hole. The extra hand really helps with racquet control and power.

The only thing I can tell you is you have to practice your reflex volleys with your partner or against a backboard. He needs to hit hard shots to you while you punch them through the hole or straight back to the recievers feet and get set for the next ball that should go through the hole.

Does that makes sense?

tennisplayer
09-10-2004, 08:47 PM
It is a bit different then the normal volley in that you do not have time for anything! No backswing, barely a grip adjustment, and barely enough time to move your head out of the way before you get stamped.

Ha, ha! BB, that's exactly my experience, except I did get stamped a couple of times! Usually I'm good at the reflex stuff but once I decided to volley an overhead from mid-court and took it on my throat... couldn't speak for a couple of days! :D

Whatever... a tennis ball can't kill you, so I figure, go for it!

ma2t
09-10-2004, 09:07 PM
One hint that has helped me is that your "default" volley should be backhand because you can cover balls on your backhand side plus ones at you plus even some on the forehand side. So when I'm not sure where the ball is headed (forehand or backhand) because of the pace, I assume I'll be hitting a backhand of some sort. Also, there's the old standby mantra of "hands in front". All of this assumes that the passing shot is being hit from the backcourt so you have time to see it.

Honestly, if someone is hitting a really hard shot at you from close range, I recommend turning to the side or even away from the ball. Otherwise, you could end up singing soprano.

papa
09-11-2004, 06:27 AM
I guess I'm not as brave as you guys - I like the racquet up and in front of me PRIOR to the return. I've actually been knocked over by strong returns - not fun to admit but it has happened on a couple of occasions. Also had my glasses broken twice but I play a rather aggressive game and do get hit on a regular basis - generally get tagged about once a month.

One thing to consider if you find your not effective when your partner is returning is to stay back at the baseline with your partner and come into the second volley position together when appropriate.

kreative
09-11-2004, 06:55 AM
One thing to consider if you find your not effective when your partner is returning is to stay back at the baseline with your partner and come into the second volley position together when appropriate.

this is a good suggestion imo, basically 2 back until you can attack. you take away the "target" from your opponents, and by mixing it up, they may be more confused due to the many options they have to hit.

Rickson
09-11-2004, 07:13 PM
I hit some very effective passing shots today by ripping forehands by the net guy. The net guy got really angry when I ripped a forehand right at him and hit his racquet, causing the ball to land on his side of the court. The guy must have been having flashbacks of the time I nailed him in his eye. If your partner has a weak second serve or a puff shot from the baseline, I suggest moving back because I'll rip forehands at you every opportunity I get.

NLBwell
09-11-2004, 09:25 PM
Bungalo Bill is right. Continetal grip for all volleys at net. Just angle your wrist so that the racket is in front of you as you hit a backhand. Use a minimal amount of movement. Keep your hands close together on all volleys - don't let your off hand fly away, don't let the racket get back to your body.

steve s
09-12-2004, 04:24 PM
Just put the racquet head in front of the ball. You are just trying to block the ball. Keep it simple. Heavy heat is hard to deal with, so try not to do too much.

papa
09-12-2004, 04:59 PM
Rickson wrote:


"I hit some very effective passing shots today by ripping forehands by the net guy. The net guy got really angry when I ripped a forehand right at him and hit his racquet, causing the ball to land on his side of the court. The guy must have been having flashbacks of the time I nailed him in his eye. If your partner has a weak second serve or a puff shot from the baseline, I suggest moving back because I'll rip forehands at you every opportunity I get. "

Although I don't aim at people, I think it can be effective at times. Getting "angry" because you get hit is rather silly. About six months ago I got lobbed in a doubles match and when I took a quick glance of the opposition placement one was at the baseline and the other at the service line (basically a one up one back situation). I hit the lob and caught the "up guy" right in the gut - he had advanced a few steps and was almost on top of the net when I hit him. To say he was ticked off would be the understatement of the day - he was p-----. Why he moved up I'll never know. Although we played out the set, he refused to shake my hand and started yelling "how would you like to get hit ....." routine - he was a big guy and really wanted at it. I have never seen him since and although I certainly wasn't trying to hurt him he I'm sure feels differently.

I've hit others but I honestly never aim for them and must tell you that I get tagged about monthly myself - part of the game.

Having said that, I find it extremely difficult to play against someone who I don't think is adequately protecting himself - kinda takes a shot away from me. Some of these guys play right up at the net and really are risking their eyesight or more.

JohnThomas1
09-13-2004, 03:51 AM
Get that racquet head in position straight away. With super fast balls i don't think about footwork or turning, i just get the strings behind the ball then go from there. No big backswing of course. You will find some of the other elements like shoulder turn might just fall into place. If opponents are one dimensional bashers of the ball i do actually play very close to the net. Tho the reaction time gets cut down it is a lot easier to get the ball over the net and into play. If something gets a little high you can also put it away easier.

Marius_Hancu
10-07-2005, 06:28 AM
I guess I'm not as brave as you guys - I like the racquet up and in front of me PRIOR to the return. I've actually been knocked over by strong returns - not fun to admit but it has happened on a couple of occasions. Also had my glasses broken twice but I play a rather aggressive game and do get hit on a regular basis - generally get tagged about once a month.

I'd suggest you might want to consider buying some protective over-glasses or whatever they call them.

kevhen
10-07-2005, 07:03 AM
If you partner has a weak serve and weak groundstrokes that the opponents are teeing off on and your vollies aren't good enough, then back up to the baseline. Or just keep practicing your reaction vollies until you get your confidence back. You may want to back up another step to give yourself more reaction time.

FiveO
10-07-2005, 10:25 AM
Good stuff above:

I am one who believes in the continental grip, good "quiet" ready position (racquet up, elbows forward of the body line, athletic stance with absolute neutral balance) and no fear (relaxed and smooth).

Continental because it eliminates need for grip changes. I know experts say grip changes can be made from fh to bh vollies. My question is why do something extra if its not necessary. Time is the biggest factor effecting how well a person volleys. Less is more. Plus in the continental one can "protect" to the bh side and almost all of the body and even to the hitting side of the body from the ground to the waist with a bh volley. Chest high and higher to the strong side necessitate a fh on reflex vollies.

Quiet ready position. Be ultra-ready but keep it simple and relaxed. Sometimes players, in an effort to be very ready and "on their toes" get very bouncy in the ready. When you bounce your eyes and vision bounces. You should "unwieght" as the opponent is about to make contact but don't bounce. If your vision is jarred you don't see the ball well. You can't hit what you can't see. Be relaxed at net but disciplined. Keep your racquet head up. Maintaining a 45 degree angle between the forearm and racquet shaft is a good reference point. Keep the elbows forward in the ready, in front of the body line. Not thinking about that can allow the elbows to slide back next to your sides or further back than that. Turn the shoulders with the elbows back and the racquet comes back with you and ends up next to or behind your body line instead of out in front. You end up taking the racquet back w/o taking the racquet back. Elbows forward promotes "out in front". Less movement. Less is more.

Even balance. Check your ready position when at the net. Many players while having a solid position to the naked eye are leaning, sometimes alot. Mostly the player will be leaning, almost falling forward. Be neutral. Truly be ready to move in ANY direction. Remember you volley mostly with your legs and feet. If you've already committed forward by leaning you really can only move straight forward w/o re-balancing and re-directing your transfer.

No fear. This goes hand in hand with a good ready position and being relaxed. Due to fear many players stand "taller" in the ready at the net. Its human instinct to protect the eyes and head. To be a good volleyer you must overcome this. With a continental grip and its upward angled wrist position at the net one's eyes should actually be closer to contact points on the volley than on groundies. Remain low, relaxed and close to the ball. Firstly you can always "save face" by a turn or bob of the head in an absolute emergency like a batter gets his head away from a bean ball in baseball. Secondly realize that no matter how hard a tennis ball is hit AT you, without a racquet in your hand, you should be able to catch it or at the very least get your palm(s) on it in the attempt to snare the ball. If you don't buy that, try it, you'll see for yourself. When you come to the realization that you can catch the ball with your bare hands at the net you'll understand that you can get your racquet on every ball hit at you. In fact another "hands and feet" drill is to practice "volleying" w/o a racquet. Have a partner feed balls from a hopper to you at the net. Work on catching the ball with the hitting hand. It teaches you that you must move your feet to every volley, volleying with the legs and feet and also the proper "quiet hands" technique which is the basis of volley technique. That's how active the feet should be and how quiet the hands should be when volleying. It's a good drill. Stay relaxed. Tension is a killer. A sure sign is when you begin to grip the racquet like a vise. Maintain your form and positions but don't muscle them. Tense and tight is SLOW. Relaxed and loose is FAST.

*Good players know they will get tagged from time to time. Like others have said accept it. It's only a tennis ball, no need to fear it. It's not a baseball. The only concern is against lesser players who blast without control or "headhunters" where a ball striking the eye is a greater threat but even then a turn or small movement of the head will save you from that threat.

As far as drills for reflex vollies the wall is good as BB told you. Another excellent drill is to place your hitting partner and yourself as close to the net as each of you can be. You can get it down to touching racquet tip to racquet tip across the net nearly to "shake hands" distance. Hit volley to volley. At those distances you can't hit hard. Its all about balance, reaction, balance and control. It forces you to return to a good ready position, maintain extremely quiet hands and to use your feet. No fear because the ball has to move relatively slow, but everything has to be quick, compact and balanced. It also forces you to focus on the opponent's contact to pick up direction a.s.a.p.. As you progress add more distance and pace, but add pace with your feet and legs moving into contact not by adding racquet motion. Think of catching the ball on the strings on all vollies. You can do the drill head on or x-court to bolster doubles technique. Another beauty of this drill is while you need a partner on the same page, it can be done anywhere, a backyard, outside the fence when waiting for a court to open up or in the basement or garage, you don't "need" a court to develop these skills.

With this drill you'll be speeding reaction times without sub-sonic boomers coming at you. Remember the proper balanced ready position, that less is more, relaxed is quick, catch the volley because you can "catch" almost any ball and vollies are hit with the feet and legs. Once you achieve the quiet, short and simple technique, reflex vollies won't seem nearly so daunting.

Good Luck.

Fay
04-06-2008, 08:41 PM
Some players will hit directly at the face of the net person and some players will try more for angle shots and down the middle. I have been hit in the face more than once at the net and it is usually the ball coming from a side angle about shoulder height which I am not yet able to block coming at me at high speed.

I have chosen to stand a step in front of the service line and work on getting better at balls hit to my feet rather than stand so close to the net as my coach recommends. I have seen both men and women hit at the net person's face as hard as they can, so until I can handle those balls better, I like the recommendation to step back a little. It a step or two really does help with reaction time.

Personally I would try to hit at someone's feet (rather than their face) which forces them to hit upward.

Bungalo Bill
04-06-2008, 08:47 PM
Some players will hit directly at the face of the net person and some players will try more for angle shots and down the middle. I have been hit in the face more than once at the net and it is usually the ball coming from a side angle about shoulder height which I am not yet able to block coming at me at high speed.

I have chosen to stand a step in front of the service line and work on getting better at balls hit to my feet rather than stand so close to the net as my coach recommends. I have seen both men and women hit at the net person's face as hard as they can, so until I can handle those balls better, I like the recommendation to step back a little. It a step or two really does help with reaction time.

Personally I would try to hit at someone's feet (rather than their face) which forces them to hit upward.

Fay, you do realize this is about a three year old post? I have seen a lot of old posts lately being brought up.

Fay
04-06-2008, 08:53 PM
Is that a problem? I haven't spent much time over here yet.

Is there a time limit?

Bungalo Bill
04-06-2008, 09:11 PM
Is that a problem? I haven't spent much time over here yet.

Is there a time limit?

Well I guess not. However, some of the posters that may have contributed something are either dead, quit posting a long time ago, or may be here. I read this as if it was a current post. No worries.

Loco4Tennis
04-07-2008, 04:20 AM
here is a way to practise hard volleys, or reflex volleys as someone else said
whit my doubles partner up at the net, i will get way behind the servise line, about 8 feet or so, and i will hit as hard as i can to him, this gives him plenty of time to react to a hard shot, while not the same as others have mentioned, it does get you to practise on hard volleys
one other tip when volleying that has worked for me recentlly, is to lead with the but of the racquet, or rather make sure the but of the racquet is slightly ahead of the face of the racquet, thus minmizing the volleys that dive into the net as you punch the volley back

Nellie
04-07-2008, 05:37 AM
I have been working a lot on my foot work for faster responses to volleys at my body. In particular, I found my self getting caught too flat footed and square to the net. I have been spending time practicing a quick crossover step to either side in order to get sideways, get out of the way of teh ball, and to properly punch the ball with a good step. I have been really surprised how much faster my volleys have become.

Andres
04-07-2008, 05:53 AM
Whatever... a tennis ball can't kill you, so I figure, go for it!
Tell that to Edberg :mrgreen:

Bungalo Bill
04-07-2008, 06:25 AM
Practice volleys against a wall to develop fast reflexes, your ability to quickly track the ball, and the strength to move the racquet head around on fast exchanges.

Bagumbawalla
04-07-2008, 03:47 PM
One thing you can try, if the ball is coming right at you, is to simply lean away from the ball (to the side not back). This has the advantage of moving your head out of the way and moving the racket to the ball.

This, of course, is not a substitute for practice, paying attention, and getting prepared as early as possible, but it might save you a bruised face, until you do.