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View Full Version : Does taking the ball early affect consistency?


Ballinbob
01-22-2009, 04:14 PM
Hey everyone

I've been looking around about this topic (taking the ball early), and many sites say it's one of the safer ways to be more aggressive. It creates more angles for you and puts you in a good court position. However, I don't know if this would be a good idea for me or not.

I usually hang around 5ft behind the baseline and hit pretty heavy topspin shots and try to outlast my opponents with my consistency/fitness. I have timing issues as well, and I'm pretty sure taking the ball early requires good timing right? Also, if I start taking the ball early, will I have to shorten my backswing or not? I have a bigger backswing than most but I get away with it because I play so far back. Do you think I would be less consistent taking the ball early with the style I play, or is it worth it to try this out? Consistency is huge for me, and I don't want to all of a sudden start missing shots I dont usually miss because of this

Anyway, what are your experiences with taking the ball early? Has it helped anyones game and how? Is this a good,safe way to start being more aggressive?Do you need any special traits to take the ball early or anything?

All discussion on this topic is welcome. I know almost nothing about this and was hoping you guys would educate me

Thanks for you help

LeeD
01-22-2009, 04:18 PM
Well, unless you like counterpunching and playing each point as a potential marathon, taking the ball early can be good for ending the point sooner rather than later.
They have less time to respond.
Agassi, Connors, McE would stand in and crowd their opponents.
They did OK.
Depends if you'd rather hit more winners, AND losers, or would you rather just stay in the point and grind it out.
I take no pleasure in long rallys, so for me, it's one two and it's over.

BU-Tennis
01-22-2009, 04:25 PM
You should shorten your backswing up when taking the ball on the rise, but just a little. It depends on where you are at in the court. Closer to the baseline you can take a fuller swing, and farther in the court the more you just have to redirect the ball. Even if you like to just grind points, you should still be looking for every opportunity to be aggressive. Nadal can outlast most players by just sitting back and hitting heavy groundstrokes. But the reason he has won any majors especially Wimbledon is due to the fact that he can recognize when to attack a ball by moving in.

Consistency can be gained from practice. The reason hitting on the rise is harder is because you are used to the ball falling into the racquet at a slower speed, rather than it bouncing up into the racquet at a faster speed. Therefor, you have to provide less of your own power. A good tip is don't forget to still engage the entire body into the shot even if you're swinging more slowly, as this is what creates stability in the shot.

Ballinbob
01-22-2009, 04:25 PM
So it does affect consistency then, but you will hit more forced errors/winners...am I correct in this? I like to playing long rallies from the baseline simply because I don't miss much and I'm fast/fit, and it works really well for me. However, it might be a good idea for me to be more aggressive and hit the ball a little flatter at times.

I usually S&V when I want to be aggressive, but my baseline game is very steady/consistent, and I don't take too many risks.

Maybe taking the ball early would be worth my time experimenting with then, it sounds interesting

edit-thanks BU tennis. Very good stuff and I'll keep that in mind (especially about the backswing). Keep the advice coming guys!

user92626
01-22-2009, 04:31 PM
Hey everyone



I usually hang around 5ft behind the baseline and hit pretty heavy topspin shots and try to outlast my opponents with my consistency/fitness.

Anyway, what are your experiences with taking the ball early? Has it helped anyones game and how? Is this a good,safe way to start being more aggressive?Do you need any special traits to take the ball early or anything?

All discussion on this topic is welcome. I know almost nothing about this and was hoping you guys would educate me

Thanks for you help

5ft behind baseline? You and your opponent must be hella good cuz I don't even see pro in AO rallying from there. They stand there to receive serves though.

Re taking the ball early, I don't think you can or should do that with regular groundstrokes however tempting. It likely always screws up the shot due to timing. The "rushing" shots are almost always special and unique, like a quick pass or no bounced shot.

If I see an opportune shot like the opponent leaving a large area uncovered I rather take my time to do a quality groundstroke than take the shot early to beat his timing.

Bagumbawalla
01-22-2009, 04:33 PM
If you practice and feel comfortable hitting early, then that becomes your "normal" shot. It you are hesitant and lack confidence in the shot, then, yes, you will be less consistant.

It is a bit more difficult shot, it takes more work, concentration, timing, and well groved strokes.

If you lack any of the above, then you have lots of work to do.

LeeD
01-22-2009, 04:33 PM
I just like the idea of standing about 2' behind the baseline, blasting forehands and backhands within 2' of the sidelines, and watching my opponent just stand there and NOT react.
Of course, I'm dreaming.
Reality is, they scramble over there falling over themselves to barely scrap a poorly struck weak return, I move in and volley into the open court.... but it hits the netcord and the opponent is still standing beyond the doubles alley.
Reality is very different from theory.
Yes, standing in promotes more winners and more losers.

Ballinbob
01-22-2009, 04:41 PM
5ft behind baseline? You and your opponent must be hella good cuz I don't even see pro in AO rallying from there. They stand there to receive serves though.

Re taking the ball early, I don't think you can or should do that with regular groundstrokes however tempting. It likely always screws up the shot due to timing. The "rushing" shots are almost always special and unique, like a quick pass or no bounced shot.

If I see an opportune shot like the opponent leaving a large area uncovered I rather take my time to do a quality groundstroke than take the shot early to beat his timing.

Thanks for your input. That's pretty much what I was looking for, if it affected timing/consistency or not. And no i'm not that great lol, I just stand back further than most. I don't know why you would have to be a good player to do this. The #1 singles guy at my school that I play often hits all of his shots deep and I end up taking them on the way down. Anyway, I haven't really measured 5ft, but its around there.

If you practice and feel comfortable hitting early, then that becomes your "normal" shot. It you are hesitant and lack confidence in the shot, then, yes, you will be less consistant.

It is a bit more difficult shot, it takes more work, concentration, timing, and well groved strokes.

If you lack any of the above, then you have lots of work to do.

I don't have any confidence issues and I go for my shots. I'm just worried because I don't have very good timing. It looks like your all for the idea of hitting early though if you say "if you feel comfortable hitting early then thats your normal shot". The idea appeals to me because it seems like a relatively safe way to be more aggressive

I'm going to try this tomorrow when I play my dad. If I start shanking every other shot though...back to 5ft behind the baseline lol

user92626
01-22-2009, 04:42 PM
After Bagum's post, I am not sure about the OP's question anymore. What does he mean by "early"? To me there's relatively only one timing which is the ball's optimal rise where you feel most comfortable hitting. Any other timing is either emergency or undesirable which you do not want to get into. For example, can Federer hit ball on the rise (meaning a few tenth seconds early) as his stable? I wouldn't think so.

LeeD
01-22-2009, 04:46 PM
There's this vid of Murray casually hitting half volley groundies with short prep, but good eye contact and concentration.
Gotta practice the shots you're gonna face.

Ballinbob
01-22-2009, 04:54 PM
After Bagum's post, I am not sure about the OP's question anymore. What does he mean by "early"? To me there's relatively only one timing which is the ball's optimal rise where you feel most comfortable hitting. Any other timing is either emergency or undesirable which you do not want to get into. For example, can Federer hit ball on the rise (meaning a few tenth seconds early) as his stable? I wouldn't think so.

Aggasi hit on the rise. He hits the ball very early compared to the other pros.

Compare where Agassi and Nadal take their forehands. I think you'll see a big difference

Aggasi: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SiHIklJiM7U
Nadal:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WHv0SUwxFP0&feature=related

Nadal stands way back and takes ball almost on its way down

LeeD
01-22-2009, 05:02 PM
Nadal is known mainly as a counterpuncher first, now he's working on first strike tennis.
Agassi was always a groundie first strike dictate the point player, could counterpunch great, but his idea of tennis was to run YOU around the court, so he could just stand and hit with a smile.
Very different philosophy of winning tennis.

raiden031
01-22-2009, 06:37 PM
I have a big spinny forehand and hitting on the rise is very difficult for me. I am far more likely to mishit the ball or just not be able to control those shots. I use it as a rare shot when I see a small opportunity that I need to take advantage of. But the small occasional benefit does not outweigh the benefit of waiting for it to land in my strike zone where I can direct the ball alot better with good pace.

I would prefer in most cases to play from a deeper position than a closer one. That includes return of serve, groundies, and even when playing at the net (unless of course I'm going after a floater).

NamRanger
01-22-2009, 06:57 PM
Yes, taking the ball effects consistency. Not in the way you would think though.



When you are on, yes, taking the ball early is actually an efficient way of hitting the ball. However, when you are off with your timing, footwork, or you are just having a bad day, your consistency really goes down the drain.



Taking the ball early means you have very little room for error. There's no inbetween. So in that sense, it does affect consistency.

Nadal_Monfils
01-22-2009, 08:55 PM
Don't stand so far in that you feel rushed. Just make sure that you are moving forward into your shot and hitting it out in front.

FedererISBetter
01-22-2009, 09:49 PM
Its good to have the option to be able to take the ball on the raise to keep your position in court while staying pretty aggressive. I like to do it on high looping balls that lands at the end of no mans land to the baseline. I also like to do it when I go for an approach, take time away for the other player and I'll be moving forward. Lastly I like to do it when I get the person out of position for a winner ( this can force a error on my part sometimes, but at least i have a winning percentage with it ). I don't always take it on the rise, sometimes i like the balls to bounce to my strike zone so I can do something more impacting instead lol. But taking the ball early definately make you aggressive because the purpose of taking it on the rise is to get your person out of position, not neccessary a winner. It takes a lot of practice to get the rhythm and to build that hand-eye coordination. And make sure when you hit on the rise, make sure your body momentum is going from low to high forward.

Ballinbob
01-23-2009, 07:43 AM
I have a big spinny forehand and hitting on the rise is very difficult for me. I am far more likely to mishit the ball or just not be able to control those shots. I use it as a rare shot when I see a small opportunity that I need to take advantage of. But the small occasional benefit does not outweigh the benefit of waiting for it to land in my strike zone where I can direct the ball alot better with good pace.

I would prefer in most cases to play from a deeper position than a closer one. That includes return of serve, groundies, and even when playing at the net (unless of course I'm going after a floater).

Glad you replied Raiden. My forehand is also really spinny, and if you mishit alot/not be able to control the shots then I probably will too. That really means something coming from you. I really don't want my consistency to go down if I take the ball early...that would just ruin my whole game. I don't hit the ball hard, but I hit with tons of spin of the forehand wing and slice off the backhand. I have a really defensive baseline game, and was thinking maybe taking it early would let me be more aggressive.

I guess I can just S&V when I want to be aggressive and keep the defensive baseline game though



Yes, taking the ball effects consistency. Not in the way you would think though.



When you are on, yes, taking the ball early is actually an efficient way of hitting the ball. However, when you are off with your timing, footwork, or you are just having a bad day, your consistency really goes down the drain.



Taking the ball early means you have very little room for error. There's no inbetween. So in that sense, it does affect consistency.

Ahh, I never thought of it that way. So it's kind of an or nothing type of thing I guess. Hitting the ball early could really benefit me if I had the timing because it would allow me to approach the net easier, but unfortunatley my timing isn't great.

I'm pretty sure I'll start mishitting alot if I take the ball too early, but I don't think it would hurt to take a couple steps closer to the baseline.

Thanks for your input, appreciate it

raiden031
01-23-2009, 08:30 AM
Glad you replied Raiden. My forehand is also really spinny, and if you mishit alot/not be able to control the shots then I probably will too. That really means something coming from you. I really don't want my consistency to go down if I take the ball early...that would just ruin my whole game. I don't hit the ball hard, but I hit with tons of spin of the forehand wing and slice off the backhand. I have a really defensive baseline game, and was thinking maybe taking it early would let me be more aggressive.

I guess I can just S&V when I want to be aggressive and keep the defensive baseline game though


I think the reason I can't hit on the rise is because I have poor hand-eye coordination. I never played on a baseball or basketball team as a child. I did karate and football, which developed general athletic ability but not great precision with the hands and arms. That is also why I play deeper than others in tennis. Time is my friend. The more time I have to prepare for a shot, the better, and I can make up for the wider angles I give to my opponent with quick movement.

There are guys brave enough to play on top of the net when I am returning a weak serve from way inside the baseline and I will pound the ball right at them and they actually get a racquet on it. If I tried that I would get nailed by the ball because I can't react that quick.

LeeD
01-23-2009, 08:38 AM
We all gotta live with our strengths and our weaknesses.
Some have great reactions and hand eye.
Some relentlessly pound the ball.
Some guide the ball to the far corners and move in.
Some rely on a mind boggling serve to throw you off your game.
Many different styles, and if played well, they all work.
See vid of Murray casually hitting half volleys groundies from the baseline.

mordecai
01-23-2009, 08:51 AM
You shouldn't worry about shortening your backswing when you take balls off the rise unless you have an innately large stroke. The most important part of hitting on the rise is clean contact and smooth weight transfer. Practice opening your hips as soon as you read the attackable ball and before you even begin your movement to its landing point. Stay on your toes and use your legs to give your shot its balance and power.

Nellie
01-23-2009, 01:15 PM
If you look at pros taking the ball on the rise, you difinately see different techniques versus taking the ball at the apex or when falling. For example, when you take the ball on the rise, it has more pace, so you do a lot more blocking of the shot. Also, the ball on the rise creates natural top spin and rise on the rebound from the racquet face, so you can use a flat stroke safely.