PDA

View Full Version : secrets to the short ball


Finster
10-08-2011, 06:01 PM
I have a major problem. I cannot reliably put away the short ball or floater. I work hard to gain the advantage on serves or rallies, but when a short ball or floater comes my way, I tend to hit into the net or way long or wide. What am I missing? Is there some fundamental that I'm ignoring? Need help....

dozu
10-08-2011, 06:32 PM
all technical questions without video will be ignored

fuzz nation
10-08-2011, 07:21 PM
I'd say don't assume that you need to put that ball away. Look at it as a chance to take control of the point and put the other guy on the run. I usually like to take advantage of a short ball by hitting a nice deep approach shot and following it to the net. That's where the biggest angles live.

Since short balls and floaters aren't moving through the court as fast, it's often tricky to hit them with pace because you're not redirecting incoming pace with the timing of your regular rally stroke. The ball doesn't fly into your hitting zone at the same rate, so a full swipe can spray it more easily unless you hit more deliberately for spin than for power.

When attacking a short ball, you're also effectively hitting into a shorter court. It's harder to swing away and still land that ball than when you're cracking it from back behind your own baseline and have more distance to turn the ball over.

sphinx780
10-08-2011, 07:33 PM
listen to fuzz, learn, repeat.

When do you want to hit a winner on a short ball? IMO, you wait until your opponent has compromised their court position, allowing you to hit to the open court with safety. This way you no longer need to thread the needle to hit the winner. Until this situation opens up, stick with taking conrol of the point as fuzznation said...it is higher percentage and puts all of the pressure on your opponent to come up with an amazing (read:low percentage) shot.

Off The Wall
10-08-2011, 08:08 PM
I'd say don't assume that you need to put that ball away. Look at it as a chance to take control of the point and put the other guy on the run. I usually like to take advantage of a short ball by hitting a nice deep approach shot and following it to the net. That's where the biggest angles live.

Since short balls and floaters aren't moving through the court as fast, it's often tricky to hit them with pace because you're not redirecting incoming pace with the timing of your regular rally stroke. The ball doesn't fly into your hitting zone at the same rate, so a full swipe can spray it more easily unless you hit more deliberately for spin than for power.

When attacking a short ball, you're also effectively hitting into a shorter court. It's harder to swing away and still land that ball than when you're cracking it from back behind your own baseline and have more distance to turn the ball over.

What Fuzz said is good.

Don't try to copy the pros' winners. You'll end up looking foolish.

For others who are hitting winners all the time, your opponent is just bad.

SoBad
10-08-2011, 08:17 PM
You have to do more with your feet to get into position and more with the racquet to generate all the pace.

hawk eye
10-09-2011, 06:44 AM
Maybe not the style award winning option, but after i miss a few of those i tend to resort to the forehand slice approach and it's actually doing reasonably well. With some times even a few clean winners coming off it.
But i have to say i'd rather put those away those with some topspin too.

newton296
10-09-2011, 06:52 AM
I think it depends on how high the ball gets. if your fast, try and get the ball up high above your shoulder and on your forehand side and then you can hit down and flatter on it. if it drops below the net thats a hard shot to hit for a winner unless you can generate some serious racquet head speed and whip the ball over the net and back down again before it goes long. think "nadal super whipper" here. very hard shot to pull of.

most of us can't generate that kinda of head speed and control so if it gets low just slice it in the corner and stay in control of the point until you get a volley or something easier to nail for a winner.

bhupaes
10-09-2011, 09:14 AM
Here's one strategy if you don't want to take the risks associated with going for a power stroke. If it's a short floater and you get to it on time, just hold back on your stroke until your opponent commits himself, like the proverbial pig in the ham sandwich. :) You can then hit it safely into the open court, or behind him, based on which side he's committing to.

Xizel
10-09-2011, 09:55 AM
When attacking a short ball, you're also effectively hitting into a shorter court. It's harder to swing away and still land that ball than when you're cracking it from back behind your own baseline and have more distance to turn the ball over.

Which is why you smack it DOWNWARD. In that case, you need a true floater and not just a short ball.

Limpinhitter
10-09-2011, 11:31 AM
I have a major problem. I cannot reliably put away the short ball or floater. I work hard to gain the advantage on serves or rallies, but when a short ball or floater comes my way, I tend to hit into the net or way long or wide. What am I missing? Is there some fundamental that I'm ignoring? Need help....

Since juniors I've been able to put away short sitters with a hard backhand slice. That shot is a natural for me. On the forehand side, once I took the time to begin learning to hit a modern, open stance, windshield wiper forehand, putting away sitters is automatic. The shot practically hits itself. Worst case, I don't hit it far enough away from my opponent and I volley the next shot away for a winner.

So, if you get a short ball (contact is well inside the baseline), and the ball is a sitter (contact is well above netcord level), and you hit a modern, open stance, WW, forehand, I don't see how you can go wrong. If you think you are hitting such a forehand, then I suggest posting a video so we can see if you are executing it well. If you haven't learned to hit such a forehand, now's the time to do so.

Finster
10-09-2011, 03:14 PM
There are a few types of short balls (slow balls near the service line) that give me problems.

1) A high short ball hit defensively back to you after you hit a nice serve or groundstroke. You're then hitting the ball on the way down. I time those wrong and hit into the net.

2) A low short ball. Usually try to hit a topspin stroke back. Long.

3) A short ball to one side of the court. Try to hit an angled shot with some pace. Wide.

Thanks for your replies!

fuzz nation
10-09-2011, 04:40 PM
If you can learn to "cut" those short balls with a slice on either wing and send them straight ahead so that they skid low and deep in your opponent's end, you'll be able to transition to the net in great shape to harvest lots of points up at the net.

When the ball is short and low, there's no swinging away at it. You need another option and the low slice will virtually "return the favor". Even if it's not deep to the other end, it can force your opponent to shovel the ball up into your kill zone. If you can think about a one-two combination when you get those off-speed short balls instead of how to hit a winner, you'll be able to construct more offensive situations for yourself.

Remember, you're looking to either make the other guy hit on the run or hit up to you. That's where you create your openings and set up your winners.

Bagumbawalla
10-09-2011, 07:52 PM
The one suggestion that I did not notice (possibly missed it) is to practice.

Have your practice partner start with a basket of balls and just toss them over the net. Start with easier "sitters" and have some target areas to hit to. Use topspin, start easy and, build up to the point where you can combine control and some power. Take turns. Keep at it for weeks and months as part of your regular practice routine. Then work up to some more difficult variations.

SerenaSlam01
10-10-2011, 01:02 PM
I think about 70% of the time, most people hit long or into the net because they hit the ball when it is too high. They are trying to smash it down at the wrong height.

You need to time the ball into the right height zone for you.

split-step
10-10-2011, 03:10 PM
Recognize it early and get to it on time.

Frank Silbermann
10-10-2011, 06:33 PM
There are a few types of short balls (slow balls near the service line) that give me problems.

1) A high short ball hit defensively back to you after you hit a nice serve or groundstroke. You're then hitting the ball on the way down. I time those wrong and hit into the net.

2) A low short ball. Usually try to hit a topspin stroke back. Long.

3) A short ball to one side of the court. Try to hit an angled shot with some pace. Wide.

Thanks for your replies! (1) See the advice above of Split-Step and Bagumbawallah.

(2) It's not a winner opportunity. As others have said, a short low ball is an opportunity to hit an approach shot, if you have a good net game. If you don't have a good net game, it's an effective attack against your weakness, in which case you'll be on defense.

(3) It's not a winner opportunity. A short, sharp cross-court is a smart rallying variation, especially against people who don't move well or whose reach is restricted by dependence on two-handed strokes. You're on defense here. If you have an accurate chop and a top-notch net game you can float a ball to the down-the-line corner and take the net. If you're fast on your feet, you can drive it to the cross-court corner and retreat. If you're Rod Laver, you can loop it back cross-court even sharper and shorter. Otherwise, just return it cross-court and hope your opponent's next shot is not as good.

dozu
10-10-2011, 07:06 PM
what fuzz said.

take control of the point... if it ends up as a winner, so be it.

disguise is more important than pace.... prepare early, and 'hold' the ball a split second to flatten out his footwork, then poke it to the open side.

this usually ends up much better than showing your cards too early (body language telling which direction you are going) and try to rush the shot or hit too hard.

5263
10-10-2011, 08:11 PM
(1) See the advice above of Split-Step and Bagumbawallah.

(2) It's not a winner opportunity. As others have said, a short low ball is an opportunity to hit an approach shot, if you have a good net game. If you don't have a good net game, it's an effective attack against your weakness, in which case you'll be on defense.

(3) It's not a winner opportunity. A short, sharp cross-court is a smart rallying variation, especially against people who don't move well or whose reach is restricted by dependence on two-handed strokes. You're on defense here. If you have an accurate chop and a top-notch net game you can float a ball to the down-the-line corner and take the net. If you're fast on your feet, you can drive it to the cross-court corner and retreat. If you're Rod Laver, you can loop it back cross-court even sharper and shorter. Otherwise, just return it cross-court and hope your opponent's next shot is not as good.

Good stuff Frank

HunterST
10-10-2011, 08:22 PM
(1) See the advice above of Split-Step and Bagumbawallah.

(2) It's not a winner opportunity. As others have said, a short low ball is an opportunity to hit an approach shot, if you have a good net game. If you don't have a good net game, it's an effective attack against your weakness, in which case you'll be on defense.

(3) It's not a winner opportunity. A short, sharp cross-court is a smart rallying variation, especially against people who don't move well or whose reach is restricted by dependence on two-handed strokes. You're on defense here. If you have an accurate chop and a top-notch net game you can float a ball to the down-the-line corner and take the net. If you're fast on your feet, you can drive it to the cross-court corner and retreat. If you're Rod Laver, you can loop it back cross-court even sharper and shorter. Otherwise, just return it cross-court and hope your opponent's next shot is not as good.

I agree with almost all of this. The exception is when you say that if you don't have a good net game then a short ball puts you on the defense. Even if they don't hit a winner, a player with decent groundstrokes should be able to play a shot that pressures their opponent. Therefore, the shot should produce either a ball that's so easy that one doesn't need a great net game to put it away, or the opportunity to hit more forcing groundstrokes.

luishcorreia
10-12-2011, 03:06 PM
1) Dont assume that all short balls are put-aways. Try and make a good aproach-shot to set up a winnig volley.

2) The main trick is using your feet. Get to the ball in time. You need to work on foot-work. Get to the ball when she's above the net.

3) Strike the ball from in a low to high trajectory. Bend your legs. I see players, all the time, hitting the ball flat or from high to low in an attempt to crush the ball. It WILL NOT WORK. Always from low to high.

LeeD
10-12-2011, 03:12 PM
Maybe because I play on fast cement courts mostly, a sliced approach often ends up to be a clean winner, if it's placed well often enough times previously. The opponent "knows" you're hitting close to the lines, and just gives up on the ball.
I don't see why attacking short balls should be limited to topspin shots only, as underspin can give you more control and more important, more DEPTH CONTROL, than topspin.

jk816
10-14-2011, 06:55 AM
1) Dont assume that all short balls are put-aways. Try and make a good aproach-shot to set up a winnig volley.

2) The main trick is using your feet. Get to the ball in time. You need to work on foot-work. Get to the ball when she's above the net.

3) Strike the ball from in a low to high trajectory. Bend your legs. I see players, all the time, hitting the ball flat or from high to low in an attempt to crush the ball. It WILL NOT WORK. Always from low to high.

I've always found that footwork is crucial in attacking short balls and approaches. If your feet stop, your odds of a good ball go way down. Take something off your stroke, but move through and beyond the hitting zone, don't assume a winner.

olliess
10-14-2011, 07:56 AM
Keep in mind too, you have a big advantage in time and angles when it's a short ball. You don't have to hit the ball nearly as far or as hard -- the opponent is still going to have less time to react and chase the ball down.

The net is a way bigger obstacle against a (low) short ball, though. Don't hit it into the net!

Finster
10-19-2011, 08:34 PM
A ball that is either a high floater that is near (and possibly even beyond) the baseline *should* be put away without you having to hit another shot. Its a slow ball that gives you time to set up, and because of its height, you have more court to work with. Your opponent should not get to it. Is that really unrealistic? True, I see pros on TV put those away regularly, but is it really in the skillset of only 6.0s and above? I believe its a 3.5 and above skill (I'm about a 4.0). I have searched the internet, but haven't found any videos or instruction guides that address this issue. Its a big factor that's hampering my game and causing me to lose a lot of points I should be winning.

ATP100
10-20-2011, 07:44 AM
Most of the time, it is foot work.

DeShaun
10-20-2011, 11:30 AM
The secret for me seems to be aggressively ensuring that I always get an early jump on the ball.

Mountain Ghost
10-20-2011, 12:08 PM
On ground strokes you normally only have to turn sideways, but on short balls you have to move forward AND turn sideways. Don't move straight toward the ball. "Circle around" the prospective contact point so you move into the ball more from the side than from behind.

Also, there is no luxury of time when using a looping backswing to get the racquet head down under the level of the ball. If your normal ground stroke backswing goes high, lower it on these balls so the racquet head doesn't go above chest level.

On very short and low balls, keep your hitting elbow and racquet handle low and out front, with the racquet head laid back as far as your supinating arm unit will allow, and keep the low-to-high forward swing very steep and short.

MG

W Cats
10-20-2011, 05:00 PM
When moving forward to a FH, using a footwork patern called the hop step will stabilze the core so that you stay side ways and move you towards the net at the same time. You basically hop up on your forward foot as you swing through the ball and land on the same foot. you can probably look iup a youtube video of Fed using this footwork pattern on a shot on a short ball.