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View Full Version : How do you be aggressive yet safe with a weak ball???


HunterST
01-06-2010, 01:26 PM
I have fairly decent groundstrokes and can force weak balls pretty frequently. My problem is, when the weak balls comes, I can't take advantage of it. I see good players get a short ball and rocket it for a winner, when I try that it goes out a lot of the time. Because of this, when I get the short ball I take an almost gentle topspin swing that allows them to recover. I try to use depth, but it seems like the shot is coming at a pace that is slow enough for my better opponents to handle the depth.

How do I get those poweful clean winners off the short ball like good players do?

EDIT

Alright guys, I took the advice that a lot of you gave me, and I've been hitting short balls like approach shots. I usually hit them DTL and follow them to the net. I've been having some success.

What I'm wondering now, is how do I move to the next level and start to hit winners off of these shots?
I really want to know what mechanics to use to hit a powerful shot that stays in the court off of a short ball. Is the swing the same with less take back? Is it a more downward swing?

Caloi
01-06-2010, 01:35 PM
Anticipate the weak ball and volley it into the open court or to the backhand corner.

raiden031
01-06-2010, 01:41 PM
You have to hit flatter on the short balls. This was hard for me because my shots often have too much topspin, but this is what you need to do. Practice, practice, practice. It takes more practice to learn to put the ball away than to learn to just get it back.

goran_ace
01-06-2010, 01:45 PM
For now, focus on placement. Don't try to hit a winner off that ball yet, use it as an approach and follow it in.

Don't expect to hit well from midcourt if you don't practice shots from midcourt. To hit that shot for a clean winner on a consistent basis you need to practice that shot until its automatic. At first, you can have balls fed to you (or witha ball machine) at midcourt and just geta feel for the range, but eventually you will need to put that shot in the context of a point so you can practice moving forward. Maybe a three ball drill where you hit a ball from each corner on the baseline and then get a short one to pounce on. The next step after that is to turn it into a four ball drill where you follow it in and hit a volley to get you in the habit of finishing the point at the net.

NolemurraY
01-06-2010, 01:48 PM
When running up to the ball don't think 'I've got to hit a winner', just pick a side and concentrate on hitting it deep with reasonable pace, this will either force your opponent to give you an easy volley or most of the time your opponent will be trying to anticipate your approach and often go the wrong way, so what you think is a slow shot can end up being a winner. Obviously on really short balls these should be put away without thinking.

JRstriker12
01-06-2010, 01:53 PM
Killing a short ball looks like an easy shot, but it's a shot a lot of recreational players miss - it's one of the reason why pushing and the dropshot/lob game work against a lot of rec players.

Really, what it comes down to is you need to practice this shot more. Have someone feed you two balls, the first is a regular baseline ball, then the second is a short ball. Aim either down the line , deep to the opposite corner, or for the short angle.

In my tennis clinics, we do a lot of short ball drills. Our instructor encourages us to take our full swing (don't dink/topspin dink), but he has us use a closed/semi closed stance as a open stance on this shot can cause the ball to spray wide.

You also have to have good footwork, recognise the weak ball early, get to the ball early so you can hit it on the rise, and use short steps to make any last minute adjustments. You may also consider flattening out your shot a little more if the ball bounces above net level. If the ball is below the net, bend your knees, get low and use a fast swing to generate topspin to keep it in the court.

Another thing to think about is that you don't have to kill a short ball for a winner. You can also hit an low, skidding, slice approach shot and setup for the volley winner off the next weak shot.

LeeD
01-06-2010, 05:30 PM
Depth trumps pure topspin drive in this case.
You're closer to your opponent, so he has less time. Keep it deep, well within 2' of the baseline, with medium pace, and it will be a forcing shot if hit to the open court. Better right atop the baseline, but nobody can expect to do that consistently.

Blake0
01-06-2010, 06:41 PM
I have fairly decent groundstrokes and can force weak balls pretty frequently. My problem is, when the weak balls comes, I can't take advantage of it. I see good players get a short ball and rocket it for a winner, when I try that it goes out a lot of the time. Because of this, when I get the short ball I take an almost gentle topspin swing that allows them to recover. I try to use depth, but it seems like the shot is coming at a pace that is slow enough for my better opponents to handle the depth.

How do I get those poweful clean winners off the short ball like good players do?

First off, for now just work on placing the ball deep into a corner or pulling your opponent out wide and look for the next ball (volley) to put away. Short backswing, you really don't need a big backswing, it'll make you overhit it out. Hit through the ball, don't loop it in, yet don't try kill it super flat either. Try something inbetween.

As you get better at doing this try to anticipate faster and see the ball coming short earlier so you can get to the ball as early as possible. When you're able to anticipate early enough and get to the ball early enough, you'll get to the ball when it's still on the rise from it's bounce and then you can set up. Once you see the ball clearly over the net you can go for a harder shot. But if you let the ball get lower then the net level hit it the way i explained before, or slice it deep (or short) and come up for a volley (or you could drop shot). When you slice it short, make sure it skids, because if it sits up, you're asking for trouble. But when it skids, your opponent has to hit up on the ball and move into the court to get the ball, opening up the court and getting a high ball. It's really hard to hit a good shot against this ball that'll automatically put you on the defence.

5263
01-06-2010, 07:14 PM
Short and mid ct balls are deceiving. You have a much longer court to work with for a normal rally ball, so in a way, these shorter balls require more skill to hit very well. The big diff is that you can finish with these balls if you have the skill, but on a normal baseline shot, you would not expect to be able to finish with a winner on a regular basis. So understand first that a short or mid ct ball is not attacked for a winner cause it is that much easier, but more that it is harder for your opponent to defend; which is an entirely diff thing altogether.

Steady Eddy
01-06-2010, 10:20 PM
You're right. This is almost identical to another thread created at almost the same time!

tennisguy2009
01-06-2010, 10:50 PM
I have fairly decent groundstrokes and can force weak balls pretty frequently. My problem is, when the weak balls comes, I can't take advantage of it. I see good players get a short ball and rocket it for a winner, when I try that it goes out a lot of the time. Because of this, when I get the short ball I take an almost gentle topspin swing that allows them to recover. I try to use depth, but it seems like the shot is coming at a pace that is slow enough for my better opponents to handle the depth.

How do I get those poweful clean winners off the short ball like good players do?


Hunter I currently play at the NTRP 5.5 level these days, and I learned tennis from very good players. I still get beaten 6-0 and 6-1 by these guys. What they taught me is as follows (and yes it works, they hit outright winners at least 90%+ of the time off short balls, and balls that are not even that short either).

1) you need to understand your highest % shot, and that is the corners of the court because that is the longest flight path your ball can take.... so aim for the corners (but not wider). Also its not back to your opponent of course. But do not go wider than the corner areas, do not try hit crazy angles.
2) you need to move up to the ball very aggressively, you want to hit it just before the apex of its bounce, or the apex, but certainly not when its coming down again after the bounce.
3) you need to decrease your power, if you are thinking im going to kill this ball you are probably done.
4) you need to *greatly* increase your racket head speed, a lot of wrist, super windshield wiper motion.
5) you need to aim shorter than you think, if you are trying to aim for the baseline in reality, mentally you should aim for the service line, the ball always goes deeper than you think.
6) try not to look where you hitting the shot, its important to not telegraph which side you are hitting to. This is the kind of shot you want to play wide open stance, with upper torso very rotated and wound up for this reason, so your body is giving away nothing on intentions, now just do not let your eyes/head give you away.

charliefedererer
01-07-2010, 12:17 PM
I just posted this on a What to do with short balls? question, but it applies here as well:

At first, as you practice, keep it simple:

1. Ball lower than the net: be content to slice or drive it down the line deep and follow it into the net.

2. Ball higher than the net: hit a winner to the open court. Your higher percentage shot is crosscourt if your oponent is neutrally positioned, but don't get too predictable unless you see he never gets to your cross court putaway anyway.

(Hint: a ball machine is good to practice a few hundred of these each week. Tennis is not a "I learned it once" activity; it takes constant practice to stay sharp.)

Tennisman912
01-07-2010, 12:54 PM
HunterST,

Handling the short ball effectively and consistently well is one of the things advanced players do very well. But it doesn’t happen overnight. There are so many things that are taken into account you could write pages and pages on this subject. Here are some basics. First as state above, the court is shorter from this position so a normal stroke is not going to work. You have to adjust your stroke to adjust the pace and spin as the situation dictates on the fly. That takes time and experience.

But try to think of it as a progression to excellence. First move the feet and get in the proper position to hit the shot. That is probably the biggest key right there. Ignoring the height of the ball for a minute, just pick your spot and slowly increase your pace and spin until you find YOUR power/effort threshold. Remember it doesn’t have to be an outright winner to be an effective shot. You want to find the balance between hitting it as hard as you are able to and not over hitting it. Start at say 60% and hit a few at this pace. Assuming you have no consistency problems, then up it to 65% for the next few short balls. And so on until you find YOUR threshold. It might be 70% or it might be 95% depending on your level. All that matters is you don’t exceed that amount until you can do so consistently in practice as you improve. Generally speaking, the higher the ball, the flatter you can hit it (it still has some spin though so don't take this to an extreme).

You said you get a fair amount of short balls so you should be able to figure out your personal threshold in a few matches. I will say it again; it doesn’t have to be an outright winner to be effective. There are many variables so I don’t want to get any more specific than this. It will take time but if you practice these shots with purpose, you will improve them faster than you thought possible.

Best of luck

TM

Ripper014
01-07-2010, 01:17 PM
Short balls can be tricky... you have less court to work with. But a few things to remember are... you do not have to hit a clean winner... you are in a position to make a shot that should give at worse an easy return you can end the point with.

Second... disguising this shot can make even an moderate paced shot a clean winner... with a short ball I am assuming you have a lot of time to setup... show your opponent something and hit the shot in the other corner.

Third... hit the shot you are most comfortable with... the highest percentage shot in your arsenal until the opponent proves they can get it back effectively.

There is no need to make the shot an all or nothing proposition... you have the upperhand of a short ball at midcourt... take advantage of it, make your opponent come up with something spectacular. And if they do... acknowledge they made a great shot... but in the end you will win more of these than they will. Unless they are that much better than you in which case it doesn't matter anyhow.

Zachol82
01-07-2010, 01:36 PM
I have fairly decent groundstrokes and can force weak balls pretty frequently. My problem is, when the weak balls comes, I can't take advantage of it. I see good players get a short ball and rocket it for a winner, when I try that it goes out a lot of the time. Because of this, when I get the short ball I take an almost gentle topspin swing that allows them to recover. I try to use depth, but it seems like the shot is coming at a pace that is slow enough for my better opponents to handle the depth.

How do I get those poweful clean winners off the short ball like good players do?

A lot of the times, and in my case as well, a weak ball tends to get me all excited and I forget all about good forms and techniques. Also, a weak ball tends to be a slow ball, which can be disadvantageous since you have too much time to think about what you want to do with the ball.

Just keep in mind your form and technique, and make sure you remember to fully swing through your shot. Try to calm down and don't swing too fast, or you'll either miss or frame the shot. You will probably want to hit the ball as hard as you can, since you wont get much pace off a slow ball, but control yourself and don't ever muscle the ball.

If anything, just ask a partner to feed you slow balls so you get used to hitting them. Nothing like repetition :twisted:

MNPlayer
01-07-2010, 01:37 PM
Not much to add here except I found that getting around and away from the ball important to my success on this shot, so I'm hitting it not too close to my body. Also not rushing it too much - try to get a stable platform with your feet and move smoothly, but swing fast. This also helps with hitting more horizontally, and hence flatter. Hitting it flat really only works when the ball is above the height of the net though. Otherwise I tend to hit topspin or a deep slice up the line. With the latter, I'm going for more of a forcing shot than an outright winner.

And thanks to TonLars for his excellent drills on this shot :). All this comes from him.

tennis24
01-07-2010, 01:57 PM
drive the ball and put losts of power but topsin

arche3
01-07-2010, 02:03 PM
I live for the short ball. That means the point is about to end.
I think it is important to take a full swing at the ball to generate the topspin to keep the ball in the court.

Where you hit it depends on the type of the ball you get. If I am in a cross court forehand rally and I get a ball that bounces on the service line and it is medium paced I will run up and plant my feet before I hit it. Using a semi open stance I will wind up and hit with extreme racket head speed and power to drive the ball back into the forehand corner of my opponent. If you hit it hard enough it will kick or skid when it lands and it is almost impossible to get back cleanly for them. It is either a clean winner or you volley the next one to the ad side. (sometimes I will go for the extreme angle to the service box corner but only if the ball is high enough.) If the short ball I get is slow enough I will wind up and hit it down the line to the add side for a clean winner. No chance they could get there from the deuce side quick enough. So for me faster short ball back crosscourt. slower ball down the line. But I am aiming to end the point right then.

On a backhand cross court rally I am always looking to hit my inside out forehand to force a short ball. I can hit with increasing angle and or spin with my inside out and it more times than not gets me a short shot back at me. I would then run up around my backhand and hit the forehand down the line to the deuce court for a clean winner. important here for me is to hit it using the correcting footwork as I approach to keep me in a closed stance. so my shot stays in the court and not wide to the left because you are really trying to change the angle of the shot from a cross court to a down the line shot and it is pretty hard to do. So footwork is very important. (my favorite is 2 or 3 heavy inside out forehands to get the floater and crush it down the line with a swinging volley.)

On all short balls I always try to stay on the ground when I actually start my swing and always use a full swing with maximum topspin. Only if the ball is at or close to my shoulder height will I flatten out the shot.

I practice my short balls a lot even now. And when I was in college we practiced it a whole lot. It was the ball you were supposed to end the point with.

Even if I miss the first few at the beginning of a game I will eventually find the range and then it's on!

Most important on ball contact is to stay planted on the ground and take your full swing on the short balls. If you jump up or ease up on your swing the ball will go out.

xFullCourtTenniSx
01-07-2010, 02:11 PM
Topspin drive into the open corner. Don't be gentle, but don't overcook it.

If we're talking straight up sitters, practice flattening those out. It's all about footwork and consistent form that will keep you from overcooking it.

OrangeOne
01-07-2010, 02:16 PM
Forget the concept of 'hitting a winner' on a weak ball (save it for when you're on the run, where you know you can't hit another shot in the point, etc etc).

Hit a 'hurt' ball - hard, spin, direction, depth, thought, etc - but with enough margin that you're not going to miss.

Many times, one hurt ball will do the trick. If it doesn't, it should yield another weak reply. Hit another hurt ball.... to the other corner, in behind the player, on the same angle, on a better angle, etc, and you should win the point, or get a weaker reply.

Thinking in terms of many many 'hurt' balls makes tennis more reliable and wins matches at many levels....

86golf
01-08-2010, 11:57 AM
Trained players will hit this ball straight in front of them and then move in behind it. If you aim for corners, you likely will miss or if your opponent is on the shot, he has open court and angles on you. The exception to this is Andy Murray, he always goes Xcourt.

Bud
01-08-2010, 12:35 PM
I have fairly decent groundstrokes and can force weak balls pretty frequently. My problem is, when the weak balls comes, I can't take advantage of it. I see good players get a short ball and rocket it for a winner, when I try that it goes out a lot of the time. Because of this, when I get the short ball I take an almost gentle topspin swing that allows them to recover. I try to use depth, but it seems like the shot is coming at a pace that is slow enough for my better opponents to handle the depth.

How do I get those poweful clean winners off the short ball like good players do?

You just need to hit with more spin on short balls. It's simply practice and repetition until you get the feel for a balance between pace/spin.

Also, consider the court geometry and net height when planning your shot.

MethodTennis
01-09-2010, 06:02 AM
Try hitting down the line cross-court give the opponent more time, even if this means hitting A backhand down the line to there forehand; take the risk. Also I you find it going out the back too much your probably not bending you knees enough. You should not use topspin as this could potentially bring the ball up high enough for your opponent to get there racket on the ball. Flattening it out will cause the ball to bounce up less (obviously).

Also what OrangeOne says is very true if your not sure you can finish it don't even try, keep forcing week returns till you get the ball you KNOW you can put away. If you plan on forcing more week returns don't flatten your shot out but play more spin.

GeorgeLucas
01-11-2010, 05:50 AM
"Weak ball in corner pocket"

-Roger Federer

GuyClinch
01-11-2010, 05:16 PM
Clearly this is a problem area for alot of players as their is no consensus on what shot to hit. :P I like to hit it DTL if the line is open and flatten it out. But -its not a high percentage shot for me..

I find that when I try to add topspin I hit a loopier ball - and it travels to slow to put people away. Pros can hit these balls with a ton of topspin that have a lower trajectory over the net. That's probably the ball to learn to hit..

dugger5688
01-16-2010, 12:29 AM
Movement, Topspin, Margin, Shot selection.

Shot selection - presumably they're out of position so you have room, don't go for lines, avoid changing direction.

Movement - Get up there, or get ready for trouble.

Margin - Related to shot selection, give yourself 2.5-3 feet (seems like alot, but it's not) usually balls fly when going for aggressive direction changers.

Topspin - Make sure that thing drops in.

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02-06-2010, 02:41 AM
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HunterST
03-21-2010, 03:51 PM
updated question

JRstriker12
03-21-2010, 04:35 PM
EDIT

Alright guys, I took the advice that a lot of you gave me, and I've been hitting short balls like approach shots. I usually hit them DTL and follow them to the net. I've been having some success.

What I'm wondering now, is how do I move to the next level and start to hit winners off of these shots?
I really want to know what mechanics to use to hit a powerful shot that stays in the court off of a short ball. Is the swing the same with less take back? Is it a more downward swing?

Next step is to practice, practice, practice until it becomes automatic.

If you have a partner and a bucket of balls, here's a drill we run in our clinic.

One person feeds from the "T" on the opposite side. The other person stands at the baseline. The person at the baseline gets two balls, a feed to the baseline and then a short ball then we have to put away. We alternate forehand and backhand.

From what I've been taught:
1. get there early
2. Close up the stance to prevent over-rotation.
3. Take a full, but relaxed swing to generate power and topspin.

BTW- The only way I would hit "down" on the ball is if it bounces up pretty high, like around shoulder level or higher.

If I get to the ball early and above net high, I can usually use my normal swing. Keep in mind, I'm not going totally flat or slapping the ball. At least with my normal stoke, if I aim straight out and drive, the topspin will make it dip.

Even if you can put this sort of ball away, you still have to judge if it's best to go for a winner or a set-up shot. I think in about 75% of the situations, especially when the ball gets below the net, the set-up shot is the better choice.

Donny0627
04-30-2010, 06:10 PM
heavy topspin

HunterST
04-30-2010, 06:18 PM
Two things that I found helped:

1. On balls that are hit around the service line, have a MUCH shorter take back and simply swing/follow through like normal.

2. On shots that are very close and the ball bounces fairly high, I swing like a normal forehand, but in a slightly downward motion. The follow through still ends over my shoulder. It's similar to a dip-drive (I think that's the name).

heretoserve
04-30-2010, 08:46 PM
You should go watch some challengers and futures. Most mortals are happy to create an error as opposed to hitting an out right winner.

HunterST
04-30-2010, 11:18 PM
You should go watch some challengers and futures. Most mortals are happy to create an error as opposed to hitting an out right winner.

I'd be okay with that haha. What strategies do you use to force the error, though?

larry10s
05-01-2010, 04:25 AM
you need to be able to take the short ball down the line and short angle cross court.
as mentioned be fore more racquet head speed and more brush fot mor topspin. if the ball is above the net when you get there flattene it out so it goes thru the court quickly.

heretoserve
05-01-2010, 05:53 AM
I'd be okay with that haha. What strategies do you use to force the error, though?

Change up pace and spin to their weaker side. Or simply just smack one right at them. Maybe bring em to the net if they have no volley. Those are some strategies. I wouldn't complicate things though. There is a reason every one hates pushers. Be brilliant with basics, work on fundamentals and don't forget the little people. ;)

Slazenger07
05-01-2010, 10:05 AM
Youre looking to be aggressive and safe? Sounds like you need topspin...

BullDogTennis
05-02-2010, 08:39 PM
"Weak ball in corner pocket"

-Roger Federer

this...never assume your going to hit a winner, hit it deep in a corner and follow it in. chances are you'll either hit a winner or get an unforced error...if not, chances are you'll have an easy put away volley at the net.