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Netspirit
12-31-2009, 12:11 AM
All questions here are about singles, not doubles.

1. What is the optimal distance from the net for "generic volleying"? Does the height of the player (or the length of their arms) matter?

2. If circumstances bring you closer to the net, do you backpedal to the optimal distance after making your shot, or do you play where you are (strafing only laterally, if needed)? In general, are there any situations when you need to stay as close to the net as possible?

3. If you serve-and-volley, are you confortable with hitting your first (half) volley from the service line (knowing that it can hardly be an outright winner or even a difficult shot if the ball is low enough)? If you anticipate a weak return towards the center - is it better to split-step where you are no matter what, or keep the momentum and rush forward to get into a better (closer) position?

Geezer Guy
12-31-2009, 12:31 AM
I play a lot of singles. Volleying isn't the strongest part of my game, but I do enjoy coming to net when I get the chance. So, take my opinions for whatever you think they're worth:

1. Half way between the service line and the net is usually pretty good. You have a chance to close the net and hit a volley winner if you get a short ball, and you can get back to take an overhead out of the air on most lobs unless they're almost perfect.

2. Usually, if I close the net to volley I don't back up. The closer I get to the net, the better chance I have of hitting a clean volley winner. (Also the better chance I have of getting lobbed, but I'm in "attack" mode so I'm gonna attack.)

3. a - Yes, and sometimes I don't even get to the service line. b - I always split-step: if it's a strong return you really need to, if it's not a strong return you don't need to as much but you don't lose anything by doing it anyway. Rushing forward unchecked (for me) leads to errors.

Blake0
12-31-2009, 12:43 AM
All questions here are about singles, not doubles.

1. What is the optimal distance from the net for "generic volleying"? Does the height of the player (or the length of their arms) matter?

2. If circumstances bring you closer to the net, do you backpedal to the optimal distance after making your shot, or do you play where you are (strafing only laterally, if needed)? In general, are there any situations when you need to stay as close to the net as possible?

3. If you serve-and-volley, are you confortable with hitting your first (half) volley from the service line (knowing that it can hardly be an outright winner or even a difficult shot if the ball is low enough)? If you anticipate a weak return towards the center - is it better to split-step where you are no matter what, or keep the momentum and rush forward to get into a better (closer) position?

1. I'd say close in as much as possible that's reasonable. The better the approach shot, the closer you should try to get to the net. If you predict a weak lob/pass attempt when you hit your approach because you feel like you hit a great approach shot, move up and block the angles. Most likely the lob will be short, and if they happen to hit a great topspin lob, forget it next point. If your approach shot was okay, half way would be reasonable. Bad approach shot, go 1/4 in side service box, close in more if you think your opponents going to pass, move back to service line if you see a lob.
2. If you hit a good shot, move up, close the net, look for a put away volley/smash. Okay/bad shot, cover up passes, and try to anticipate what's going to happen.(assuming you're already at net) If you see a floater coming that you can easily kill, forget about footwork and charge up to the net and volley. If you can get to the ball and kill it with good form, go ahead, but you need to get to the ball before it gets too low.
3. You have to be confident in your half volley's to serve and volley, or have a great serve. It's better to split step, and then move up and hit the ball, getting as close as you can.

In any of these situation's don't mindlessly charge up every time, or you'll get lobbed pretty easily. If you stay at the service line, you'll get passed easily, you aren't covering up much court. How far you go in, depends on how good your approach shot was, how good your opponent is at passing/lobbing, and your net abilities to smash and hit volleys.

fuzz nation
12-31-2009, 07:24 AM
Keep in mind that general (or generic) volleying is done more with footwork to move through the ball than with a swing of the arm. If you're too close to the net, it gets difficult to make that forward move without risking contact with the net. Plus, a shrewd opponent will see how much real estate you're giving him or her to put a lob behind you.

When I coach my high school doubles players, I want them to be aware of the need to get two steps beyond the service line to be in reasonable position for volleying. That zone ends at maybe a step-and-a-half or two steps back off the net. I like to use this same comfort zone for singles, but I can be more aggressive when I'm farther in than just two steps beyond the service line.

Geezer Guy pretty much nailed it and I agree with everyone on the split-step. You need that pause and setting of the feet so that you can move in any direction, even if you get to continue forward to the ball. If you keep running in and the ball is only a couple of steps to either side, your forward momentum will make you feel like you're on a clay court where you can't change direction right away. That relatively close ball will seem unreachable without a split-step.

Zachol82
12-31-2009, 10:46 AM
All questions here are about singles, not doubles.

1. What is the optimal distance from the net for "generic volleying"? Does the height of the player (or the length of their arms) matter?

2. If circumstances bring you closer to the net, do you backpedal to the optimal distance after making your shot, or do you play where you are (strafing only laterally, if needed)? In general, are there any situations when you need to stay as close to the net as possible?

3. If you serve-and-volley, are you confortable with hitting your first (half) volley from the service line (knowing that it can hardly be an outright winner or even a difficult shot if the ball is low enough)? If you anticipate a weak return towards the center - is it better to split-step where you are no matter what, or keep the momentum and rush forward to get into a better (closer) position?

1. Height and arm-length of a player matters since further reach means you can cut off more of your opponent's angle, and the taller you are, the more chances you can get to a lob. That being said, you can find your general distance from the net by standing straight and reaching toward the net with your racket. The general distance for volleying should be where you stand when your racket just touches the net, you can back up just a tiny bit from there as well.

2. I usually backpedal to the optimal distance when I think my opponent has a good chance to return my volleys. If I volley wide and I know my opponent will have to reach for it, I will get closer to the net in order to cut off his angle and shorten his time.

3. When I serve and volley, I will try to approach the net as close as possible. However, this varies depending on my serve and the opponent I'm facing.

I would also like to add that it's a bad idea to stand TOO close to the net unless you're expecting a weak reply. Standing too close to the net results in several disadvantages including a shorter time to react, opening up more court for your opponent, being a victim of a lob, as well as the inability to step forward and into your volleys.

Netspirit
12-31-2009, 02:50 PM
Thanks guys.

WildVolley
12-31-2009, 03:25 PM
There's usually a trade-off between being very close to the net, which gives you the ability to hit wicked angles, and staying back far enough that you can move forward to cut off the angles and have a chance at covering the lob.

From what I've seen, inexperienced players tend to get a little too close to the net, and lobbing against them is usually effective.

Steady Eddy
12-31-2009, 04:41 PM
I don't think you should think too much about where to be, because then I think players try to get to that spot and say "made it!" when they get there and they're not about to move. Tennis isn't about getting to a spot and hanging in there, these are just spots from which to start from. Chances are 99% that you'll have to move from that spot to return the ball. This means you'll have to be quick and just as important, you need to move IMMEDIATELY when your opponent hits their shot, even waiting a tenth of a second is wasting way too much precious time. For example, if you're ready to read a lob and smash it, you can get as close to the net as you want, even if you're short. But if you tend to stand around, (as most players do), then even back near the service line is too far up, and many lobs will beat you. Try to anticipate, and never stand around. That's the mindset you should have rather than be looking to achieve and stand on a "good spot".

Cindysphinx
12-31-2009, 07:35 PM
I think this is one of those questions where the best answer is, "It depends." On what? "On everything."

I am short, so I am easy to lob and don't have much reach. I play 3.5 ladies, so the ball isn't coming at Mach 1, but opponents can easily pass you if in good position. I have an overhead, but it is a work in progress in that lobbing my BH will get me in trouble.

And we haven't even talked about the opponent, and the answer depends on that too.

When I approach the net, I kind of play it by ear. I feel comfortable closing once opponent strikes the ball, so I don't feel the need to be all on top of the net. I think the lob is a threat, so I want to discourage it by not being too close, and I want to reach any lobs that do come.

I agree with Wild Volley that inexperienced players (and poor volleyers) close the net too much. I don't get this, as they must know that I can *see* them up there and will attempt a lob more often than a pass. Maybe guys prefer the pass to the lob, but 3.0-3.5 ladies will lob your head off if you even think of standing in the front half of the service box.

Steady Eddy
01-01-2010, 08:43 AM
I think this is one of those questions where the best answer is, "It depends." On what? "On everything."

I am short, so I am easy to lob and don't have much reach. I play 3.5 ladies, so the ball isn't coming at Mach 1, but opponents can easily pass you if in good position. I have an overhead, but it is a work in progress in that lobbing my BH will get me in trouble.

And we haven't even talked about the opponent, and the answer depends on that too.

When I approach the net, I kind of play it by ear. I feel comfortable closing once opponent strikes the ball, so I don't feel the need to be all on top of the net. I think the lob is a threat, so I want to discourage it by not being too close, and I want to reach any lobs that do come.

I agree with Wild Volley that inexperienced players (and poor volleyers) close the net too much. I don't get this, as they must know that I can *see* them up there and will attempt a lob more often than a pass. Maybe guys prefer the pass to the lob, but 3.0-3.5 ladies will lob your head off if you even think of standing in the front half of the service box.Can I offer an explanation? When you're new to tennis, nothing makes sense, you don't use your own judgment. So when the pro talks about "going to the net", you interpret that literally, and you go right smack up to the net. It takes a while to see that while it's a very different position from being back at the baseline, (another description not to be taken too literally BTW), you don't want to actually be on top of the net.

I agree with you when you say, "it depends". That might be frustrating advice for a beginner who wants dogmatic answers, but it's better advice. As I said, I think being told what the best spot is, the beginner often interprets that to mean that by standing on that spot, they can reach almost any ball. They stand there while a ball goes by them, only to look at their coach thinking, "I thought you said that I could reach most balls just by standing here." They don't get that, just like a baseball fielder, it's only a starting place, not a standing place. So many people in doubles get glued to their spot.

Cindysphinx
01-01-2010, 09:11 AM
^True.

And what I do depends on the opponent. It seems that opponents fall into categories, at my level anyway.

There is the player who hits everything flat and hard, but who couldn't hit a lob if a million dollars were riding on it. For those, I crowd the net.

There is the player who is accurate with placement but who cannot hit with pace, so you have all day to close the net on their passing shots. For those, I stay farther back.

There is the player who hits everything as a moonball or lob and cannot topspin anything at your feet. For those, I would stop at the service line.

It only takes a warm-up and a few points to figure out which one you have. Once I decide, I just position accordingly.

Are there players who can do it all (esp. while on the run or stretched out and under pressure)? Yes. Can they be found at 3.5? Nope.

Also, I find that the lateral positioning is sometimes more important than my depth in the court. Remembering to follow the ball -- which means you have to really hustle to be in position for a crosscourt approach shot -- is important.

I have a practice partner who I find easy to lob or pass when she comes in. She thinks I am a magician. Nope. She comes in too close, and she doesn't follow the ball when she approaches. Fix those things and I wouldn't be able to work much magic! :)