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View Full Version : why should the approach shot go DTL?


HunterST
12-14-2009, 10:03 AM
The other day my tennis instructor told me when you're hitting an approach shot it should be DTL. I didn't quite understand why this was. Something about you can just move straight up when the ball is hit DTL, opposed to having to move diagonally when you hit a cross court shot.

Wouldn't hitting DTL and staying to one side of the court allow for them to make a cross court passing shot? When they're running to get a DTL shot the highest percentage shot would be cross court, so wouldn't it make more sense to move to the opposite side of the DTL approach shot?

mikeler
12-14-2009, 10:19 AM
When you hit the approach down the line, you are in perfect position to move forward and play the next ball. If you hit cross court, then you have to move diagonally AND forward to cover the DTL passing shot and then you are vulnerable to getting a cross court passing shot hit behind you. With that being said, you still should throw in a few cross court approaches to keep your opponents guessing.

larry10s
12-14-2009, 10:41 AM
where you need to get to after your approach shot is alittle towards the same side as where you hit the approach shot from the center line. so if you are in the deuce court and approach dtl you have to get to the right of the separating the 2 service boxes. . if you hit cross court to the ad side you still have to get to the same spot (longer distance ) you need to get there so you can cover both a dtl and cross cout pass

Nellie
12-14-2009, 10:57 AM
The most common passing shot is down the line. If the opponent tries to pass crosscourt and you get a racquet on the ball, the point is over (the opponent is too far to get to the return volley). In contrast, if the opponent hits a passing shot down the line and your return the shot, the opponent has a good chance of getting another shot.

Bungalo Bill
12-14-2009, 11:07 AM
The other day my tennis instructor told me when you're hitting an approach shot it should be DTL. I didn't quite understand why this was. Something about you can just move straight up when the ball is hit DTL, opposed to having to move diagonally when you hit a cross court shot.

Wouldn't hitting DTL and staying to one side of the court allow for them to make a cross court passing shot? When they're running to get a DTL shot the highest percentage shot would be cross court, so wouldn't it make more sense to move to the opposite side of the DTL approach shot?

The main thing it has to do with is court coverage. It has more to do with what you have to cover AFTER you hit your shot more than anything.

In some cases, it is appropriate to hit the ball crosscourt. It is sometimes obvious that you should. However, if you are approaching the net, you want to hit DTL and then close off the court giving your opponent only the toughest of shots if they try to get it by you. When you do so, moving into position does not take as many steps as you would have to if you hit it crosscourt.

And yes, it is the opposite for groundstrokes! In groundstrokes, you want to hit crosscourt because you will have the least amount of steps to close off your court, you are hitting over the lowest part of the net, and you are hitting to the longest part of the court. That is a favorable thing you want to do to increase your chances of winning the point.

btangel
12-14-2009, 11:17 AM
You're also taking time away from your opponent by going down the line. If done right, you have a good chance at inducing a weak return for an easy put away volley.

jrod
12-14-2009, 11:21 AM
The main thing it has to do with is court coverage. It has more to do with what you have to cover AFTER you hit your shot more than anything...

Exactly. Any approach shot requires you to take up a net position that bisects the angle of possible returns from your opponent, which effectively does what BB states, i.e. maximizes your chances of being able to respond and forces your opponent into a more risky reply. So like larry10s already stated, if your approach is DTL the optimal position you should move to is closer than if you were to approach CC. A simple diagram showing the angle bisecting principle should be pretty convincing.

Note that BB is correct in that there are times when a CC approach can be effective. It depends to some extent on both you and your opponents strengths, weaknesses and relative positions.

W Cats
12-14-2009, 11:22 AM
The most common passing shot is down the line. If the opponent tries to pass crosscourt and you get a racquet on the ball, the point is over (the opponent is too far to get to the return volley). In contrast, if the opponent hits a passing shot down the line and your return the shot, the opponent has a good chance of getting another shot.

Yes this is the common line. Why? Let's have a little discussion.

Situation: You are in a crosscourt rally FH (righty), You get the short ball that bounces near the serviceline about 1/2 way between the centerline and the singles sideline. Doubtfull that your opponent is going to just sit there and not recover to atl east close to the center hash.

Question: DTL approach or CC approach. If you give criedance to Wardlaws directionals why not force the lower percentage shot when under duress or welcome the higher percentage shot that will be coming more in your general direction?

mikeler
12-14-2009, 11:40 AM
Some guys I play have such huge forehands that I almost always disregard the DTL approach and favor attacking their backhands no matter where the short ball is.

xFullCourtTenniSx
12-14-2009, 12:43 PM
Well, depending on what level you are, you can get away with putting the approach shot anywhere. You can do that at the higher levels as well, but the unconventional choices must be done as a total surprise.

As a passer, this is what I'm thinking when I see certain approach shots at certain spots.

Down the line - I have to run for it and put it crosscourt, but it's going to be difficult to do it and put pace on it, so I might have to run backwards and dip it. If I get there quickly enough I can throw in a big one down the line as a changeup. Basically if you place it well, it's difficult to be really accurate with the placement and hit a big one. Might have to hit a lob if nothing else is a viable option.

Crosscourt - I'm already there and have EVERY option easily available to me. He's expecting a down the line shot which is wide open, but since he's expecting that and quickly moving to cover it and opening up the other side, a crosscourt pass is an extremely easy shot as well. I can put pace on both shots and hit them accurately. And the lob is a VERY easy shot from this position, but so are the other passing shots so I'll keep the lob in my back pocket.

In the middle of the court - Who says you can't generate angles from this position?! You're dead meat! I'm running around this thing and have both the inside out forehand and the crosscourt forehand wide open! If you hit here, hit hard and get it deep with lots of penetration! In which case, you might be looking at a lob.

Drop shot - LOB IT OVER AND PRAY! Maybe dink it crosscourt. If I have time, hold it and make them commit and hit to one side and cover that side.

Sitter - Kill it to the open court.

As a net rusher (or in the process of doing so), these are my thoughts for certain approach shots.

Down the line - Standard shot, easiest to get a winner or force an error. If they get a racket on it, I'm looking for a crosscourt one, but don't want to leave the down the line open until I'm sure it's crosscourt, in which case I'm running there ASAP (after getting in position at the net to cover down the line).

Crosscourt - Hey, he guessed and moved prematurely to the down the line shot. The crosscourt one is wide open! Free winner! That or I'm picking on a specific wing, in which case I'm moving in as quickly as possible to get into position, because the whole court is open! I'm looking for the down the line shot, but the crosscourt will occasionally come so I gotta watch out for that too! What a pain...

In the middle of the court - Pffft... You kidding me? I can hit a winner by picking a side and hitting there then covering it if he guesses right.

Drop shot - He thinks I'm going to hit it hard and deep, juked again! I'll be looking for the crosscourt dink or the lob. If he floats it up down the line I'll kill it or lob him.

Sitter - GUESS! He's probably going to the open court! RUN THERE! (And cover your precious items.) Commit to one side and cover it. If you guess right, good. If not, you gave yourself a 50% chance at max to win that point once you hit the sitter anyway. This isn't an approach shot, this is off a tough volley or a shanked one. Thought I'd throw it in cause it'll happen.

As you can see though, down the line is by far the easiest and most aggressive option. You're already covering the down the line shot and are baiting them to hit "the percentage shot", which you'll be looking for. Playing the net is all mind games and percentages. It's a gamble and a battle of bluffs like poker. Only it goes by much faster than a round of poker.

You want them on the run because it makes for a weaker passing shot. Even if they guess right, it's not as bad as hitting it right to them because they still have to run there and play something on the run. It'll be easier, but they still gotta come up with something good.

Bungalo Bill
12-14-2009, 01:52 PM
Some guys I play have such huge forehands that I almost always disregard the DTL approach and favor attacking their backhands no matter where the short ball is.

And that is where you as a player need to decide what you can do in your match. That is a strategy you can very well use. However, if you notice your opponent cheating over or is able to pass you, you may want to play the percentages more.

mikeler
12-14-2009, 01:57 PM
And that is where you as a player need to decide what you can do in your match. That is is strategy you can very well take. However, if you notice your opponent cheating over or is able to pass you, you may want to play the percentages more.


Good point. This is where the chess match really begins.

tennis005
12-14-2009, 06:26 PM
Basic geometry. Heres an illustration. The drawing on the left(forgive me if they are not to good, this is for proof of concept) shows the dot (AKA the player) hitting a crosscourt shot. From where the ball lands, I made a dotted line to show the angle the opponent can hit the ball and will land in the court. The shaded portion shows the angle that can be covered by the player. The opponent has wide area to hit the ball into. The drawing on the right shows the player hitting the shot DTL, From where the ball lands, I put a dotted line to show the angles the opponent has. The shaded area is the area the player can cover. As you can see, hitting DTL on a approach shot allows you to cover a greater area than hitting crosscourt. Of course, if your opponent is waiting for you DTL, hit crosscourt.http://img42.imageshack.us/img42/1236/dtlc.th.jpg (http://img42.imageshack.us/i/dtlc.jpg/)

HunterST
12-14-2009, 06:52 PM
Basic geometry. Heres an illustration. The drawing on the left(forgive me if they are not to good, this is for proof of concept) shows the dot (AKA the player) hitting a crosscourt shot. From where the ball lands, I made a dotted line to show the angle the opponent can hit the ball and will land in the court. The shaded portion shows the angle that can be covered by the player. The opponent has wide area to hit the ball into. The drawing on the right shows the player hitting the shot DTL, From where the ball lands, I put a dotted line to show the angles the opponent has. The shaded area is the area the player can cover. As you can see, hitting DTL on a approach shot allows you to cover a greater area than hitting crosscourt. Of course, if your opponent is waiting for you DTL, hit crosscourt.http://img42.imageshack.us/img42/1236/dtlc.th.jpg (http://img42.imageshack.us/i/dtlc.jpg/)


Thanks a lot man. That's exactly what I needed, I couldn't visualize the benefit of the down the line approach shot.

tennis005
12-14-2009, 07:05 PM
Your welcome! The illustration assumes your opponent is around the center area. If he is already DTL, hit crosscourt. There is still a chance your opponent can hit a passing after hitting down the line but the area he can hit to is much smaller.

mikeler
12-15-2009, 04:23 AM
Once again a picture is worth a thousand words. :)

crystal_clear
12-15-2009, 06:56 AM
Basic geometry. Heres an illustration. The drawing on the left(forgive me if they are not to good, this is for proof of concept) shows the dot (AKA the player) hitting a crosscourt shot. From where the ball lands, I made a dotted line to show the angle the opponent can hit the ball and will land in the court. The shaded portion shows the angle that can be covered by the player. The opponent has wide area to hit the ball into. The drawing on the right shows the player hitting the shot DTL, From where the ball lands, I put a dotted line to show the angles the opponent has. The shaded area is the area the player can cover. As you can see, hitting DTL on a approach shot allows you to cover a greater area than hitting crosscourt. Of course, if your opponent is waiting for you DTL, hit crosscourt.http://img42.imageshack.us/img42/1236/dtlc.th.jpg (http://img42.imageshack.us/i/dtlc.jpg/)

Thanks a lot~

What about in doubles? deuce side or ad. side?

jrod
12-15-2009, 07:06 AM
...What about in doubles? deuce side or ad. side?


Doubles is an entirely different story where the concept of an approach shot is, well, entirely different.

What exactly are you asking?

W Cats
12-15-2009, 08:39 AM
T005, Thanks for your efforts of the picture. Perhaps you can clarify for me on the image on the left, why the dot(player) has assumed the position that you illustrated after the crosscourt approach was made. Maybe I'm reading the image wrong but it looks like you have the player moving as if the approach was DTL and covering for that shot instead of following his crosscourt approach.

A question for everyone else: are we all saying that now because it's a passing shot, that changing the angle on the ball to hit a DTL passing shot off of an appropriate crooscourt approach is suddenly the high percentage shot?

It would be interesting to see a drawing, I vote T005, of the geometry in a high percentage passing shot.

Just to be clear I'm not say that I'm right and everyone else is wrong, far from it, as I have been taught and subscribe to the party line as well. I just want to challenge this assumption to get more info.

BB what do you think?

Bungalo Bill
12-15-2009, 09:10 AM
T005, Thanks for your efforts of the picture. Perhaps you can clarify for me on the image on the left, why the dot(player) has assumed the position that you illustrated after the crosscourt approach was made. Maybe I'm reading the image wrong but it looks like you have the player moving as if the approach was DTL and covering for that shot instead of following his crosscourt approach.

A question for everyone else: are we all saying that now because it's a passing shot, that changing the angle on the ball to hit a DTL passing shot off of an appropriate crooscourt approach is suddenly the high percentage shot?

It would be interesting to see a drawing, I vote T005, of the geometry in a high percentage passing shot.

Just to be clear I'm not say that I'm right and everyone else is wrong, far from it, as I have been taught and subscribe to the party line as well. I just want to challenge this assumption to get more info.

BB what do you think?

EDIT: W Cats, I am speaking in general here. I know you know this stuff already. So the following isn't directed to you.
-------------------------
To be honest, I am not sure I am following the drawings. I am searching for some illustrations on court coverage.

The other thing is we need to keep things equal and simple. We all could provide many different scenarios and alter our answers to every scenario. So all of our common sense needs to be considered in this.

We are speaking about a player's first choice when he hits his approach shot. We all could add Wardlaw Directionals, etc.. but that would muddy up what we are trying to accomplish here. I think once we all see the high percentage shot, then we can dive into other scenarios and make some adjustments.

A high percentage shot does not only consider the shot itself. It also can consider what gives you the best chance to win the point on the next ball.

The main point of hitting your approach shot straight ahead or DTL, is to benefit you the player. It is not about your opponent, or what they can do with the ball. We aren't covering our conditioning, volleying skills, or our opponent's ability to chase down a ball and hit wicked angles.

We are simply looking at it from the approach shot point of view.

We also need to consider the word "approach". It implies that a player is in transition to a certain destination point. This destination is what you are playing for and the approach shot is about controlling your ability to get to that destination point and reducing the amount of real estate your opponent can hit to for a winner. The destination point is what is the high-percentage aspect you are playing for with your approach shot. It isn't about your shot or your opponents shot, it is about your side of the court. It is about positioning. If you are approaching the net, you have to think like a net player. Positioning and closing off angles is a huge activity for players that like to play net. You are in essence daring the player to hit through you because everything else spells loss of point.

So, we hit an approach shot. Now what? Where do you position yourself for your volley? How can you close off your court best? What will it take for us to close off the majority of our court, give our opponent a lower percentage shot(s), and give ourselves a greater chance to put the next ball away or get our opponent on the run?

When you are playing net, one of the more hidden goals is you want to be able to field the ball from your opponents reply. In doubles, we hit down the T even if we know our opponent knows you are hitting there. Why do we do that if our opponent knows this? Haven't we given it away? No, we haven't. One of the main goals in doubles is not aceing someone on your serve. It is ensuring that the ball is always between myself and my partner's positioning so you give your team the best chance to keep your court closed, stay in position, and answer your opponents reply.

Think of our approach shot in the same way. It is about the next ball and not the approach shot itself.

So, the answer to this is clearly going to be to hit it DTL or straight ahead. Second choice would be to hit to the center of the court.

So, if you guys don't mind, let's keep it simple for now. Without a drawing, if a player hits it DTL or straight ahead, he only needs to move toward the center line of the service box a few steps. His opponent is forced to decide to do several things.

1. Try to get it through a smaller space (usually your opponent is going for the line here) DTL. Which would not require a lot of movement on our part to close off their DTL shot and put it away.

2. Try to angle it in a small space over the net in the crosscourt direction. Which they very well can especially if they catch us moving too soon DTL or guessing wrong. In that case we clap for them.

3. Hit over us.

By placing the ball nearly in front of us, we close off the big angles from our opponent. He then has a smaller court to hit in and has to be more precise. I am not saying they can't, I am only saying we are giving them a lower percentage shot and a lower chance to beat us.

My position is this, if a player continues to hone their technique and learns to play tennis by using higher percentage shots, they not only make the game easier to manage, but they improve their chances to win.

W Cats
12-15-2009, 09:33 AM
BB my reference to Wardlaws was from the point of view of the passing shot and not the approach. Sorry if it wasn't clear.

Bungalo Bill
12-15-2009, 10:06 AM
T005, Thanks for your efforts of the picture. Perhaps you can clarify for me on the image on the left, why the dot(player) has assumed the position that you illustrated after the crosscourt approach was made. Maybe I'm reading the image wrong but it looks like you have the player moving as if the approach was DTL and covering for that shot instead of following his crosscourt approach.

A question for everyone else: are we all saying that now because it's a passing shot, that changing the angle on the ball to hit a DTL passing shot off of an appropriate crooscourt approach is suddenly the high percentage shot?

It would be interesting to see a drawing, I vote T005, of the geometry in a high percentage passing shot.

Just to be clear I'm not say that I'm right and everyone else is wrong, far from it, as I have been taught and subscribe to the party line as well. I just want to challenge this assumption to get more info.

BB what do you think?

Okay, I see. I had to turn the board around so to speak. It has been awhile, I would have to see the geometry in that. It would also depend on where the player was positioned. So I am with you, need better illustrations. Or maybe someone already knows the answer.

SirSweetSpot
12-15-2009, 10:24 AM
The down the line approach shot encourages a cross court passing attempt, an inexperienced player can feel suffocated trying to thread the needle with a down the line reply, mainly for the reasons that most recreational players aren't adept enough to hit the (backhand) down the line passing shot with acute precision. Sure, some of the time they'll nail it, you say "nice shot" and move on, but the percentages are on your side. You're opponent isn't going to be David Nalbandian or Ivan Lendl (at least I sure hope the hell not.)

In a scenario with two right handed players, an excellent strategy is to cheat a little to the crosscourt side after a forehand slice approach shot to your opponent's backhand wing with DEPTH. This gives you even more court coverage and also might tempt (goad) your opponent to try the difficult backhand pass, if you open up that passing lane a little more than you normally do, to try and influence your opponent's shot selection. More often than not the ball will land wide...or long, or both, but definitely wide a lot of the times. I don't know what level you play at but, IMO, the backhand passing shot is the most difficult shot in tennis to pull off consistently, especially against a ferocious volleyer. The morale of the player can plummet quickly. And don't be afraid to add some silly amounts of slice on the ball (get some racquethead speed.) Especially with a lot of the younger players, who are not as versed on playing against competent net rushers. If you're opponent is a weak lobber, feel free to encroach the net even further, for the lob is not a threat.

I also like putting slice on my approaches, as opposed to topspin. The slice approach tends to induce a crosscourt reply, perhaps because after the ball bounces, they're stretched out further and try to go for an angle as opposed to wrapping it around the netpost LOL. I've found it tends to bias a crosscourt passing attempt. Of course there are times when a top approach shot is very practical, albeit even if its just for variety. I find I can control my depth much better with slice, and still supply plenty of pace. If you get proper DEPTH, you will be successful.