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View Full Version : How to go from baseliner to average volleyer?


BirdWalkR
01-28-2012, 10:21 AM
I'm primarily a baseliner but I want a quicker way to end points. I don't have the firepower to blast through oponents or where I can hit more winners than Unforced Errors. Yet I'm not quite consistent enough to be a grinder. I don't have the best volleys right now. But last year I was a fairly average volleyer when I would play a lot of doubles and I don't think it'd take me long to get better at them. My trouble comes in recognizing when to come in or what shots I should hit that would allow me to come in and set up for a fairly easy volley. Nobody I play is a consistent volleyer and I feel like if I could become just an average volleyer with decent shots to set me up for volleys I would be able to win much more easily compared to if I try to keep up in baseline rallies. And how do Iprotect against passing shots? Seems like the few times I get up to the net the oppenent has an easy lob or can power a passing shot past me.

Have about three weeks to practice. Any drills, etc.? Any help would be much appreciated. Really don't knowing anything about transistioning to the net or anything about netplay really.

InspectorRacquet
01-28-2012, 10:39 AM
For most levels, you first need to move the opponent to one side or another (far enough to where they're standing at the sideline). Then, hit a strong forehand (but not winner speed) to the other sideline. If you can't hit the fast forehand DTL, you shouldn't move up. Also, try not to back up or relinquish the baseline, as that just gives more time to the opponent. By keeping the forehand relatively fast, you ensure the easier volley.

Ballinbob
01-28-2012, 10:45 AM
Good to hear you want to improve your volleys and not just be a one-dimensional baseliner. I serve and volley a lot, and it works pretty well if you know what your doing.

Anyway, here are some tips for volleying that have really helped me:

1. When in a baseline rally and looking for a chance to approach, make sure to approach down the line on a shorter ball. You approach DTL to cut off angles for passing shots. So hit your approach shot DTL and follow it to the net, and be ready for the CC passing shot. Be prepared to intercept it.

2. My ideal approach shot is a slice dtl, mainly because it stays low and forces my opponent to hit up, giving me an easier volley

3. Keep the volley very simple. Don't swing, make contact out in front, get down low on lower balls, split step when your opponent makes contact. Watch some Youtube instructional videos if you want

4. Stay calm and don't grip the racket too hard. Don't be intimidated by a fast shot. Relax, and just get a racket on it. You'll surprise yourself with what you can do just by getting a racket on the ball.

-----
There are a lot more tips for volleying and net play obviously, but these helped me out a lot personally. I used to approach CC on a topspin forehand and always got burned, so hopefully now you won't make the same mistake as I did. And I also used to just freak out when someone hits a hard ball at me...

Anyway, it takes practice. I like to practice on the ball machine because it lets you hit a lot of balls in a short amount of time. This is me volleying around 2 months ago on a ball machine. The mechanics aren't perfect in this video (I posted this vid here to get help on my volleys) but I keep it simple. I found using the ball machine gave me a better feel for my volleys. Again, you don't want to emulate my volleys here as they're not perfect by any means, just showing you that volleys are pretty simple


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z2wIflE46C8&context=C374c2caADOEgsToPDskLULO82OPNyQ8VCvdFL89Bu

goran_ace
01-28-2012, 10:51 AM
Agree with what these guys have said. Work on your transition game. You don't have to hit spectacular volleys if you approach on a tough shot and have open court to dump the ball into.

kiteboard
01-28-2012, 12:00 PM
Practice a lot of serve and volley. Nothing like it for improving volley skills.

rkelley
01-28-2012, 12:16 PM
Good post by Ballinbob. I'm going add my two cents to his thoughts.

Good to hear you want to improve your volleys and not just be a one-dimensional baseliner. I serve and volley a lot, and it works pretty well if you know what your doing.

Anyway, here are some tips for volleying that have really helped me:

1. When in a baseline rally and looking for a chance to approach, make sure to approach down the line on a shorter ball. You approach DTL to cut off angles for passing shots. So hit your approach shot DTL and follow it to the net, and be ready for the CC passing shot. Be prepared to intercept it.

2. My ideal approach shot is a slice dtl, mainly because it stays low and forces my opponent to hit up, giving me an easier volley.

Approaching DTL is the classic advice. It's really good advice for exactly the reasons that Ballinbob said. However at so many levels, even very high levels, backhands are weaker than forehands. If you slice cc to someone's backhand, keeping the ball low - not floating it up, the volley that you'll have to hit is probably going to be easier than going DTL to their forehand. Obviously some players will deal with hitting backhand passing shots and lobs better than others, and you should go to the forehand once in a while to make the backhand cc approach more effective, but most players are going to have a harder time generating a passing shot off their backhand.

The key is keep your approach low and making them hit up to pass you.

Also slower approach shots can be quite effective if they're low and sliced. Make your opponent generate the pace, which again for most people will be harder off the backhand. And the lower pace shot from you is a safer shot for you to hit. The backhand slice where you're coming in, not taking a big swing, and allowing your forward motion to move your racquet through the ball, keeping it low and to their backhand is a safe and effective shot.

3. Keep the volley very simple. Don't swing, make contact out in front, get down low on lower balls, split step when your opponent makes contact. Watch some Youtube instructional videos if you want.

All super good stuff here. The first three points are key to a decent volley: Keep the volley very simple. Don't swing, make contact out in front . . .

I'd also add:
- Use a continental grip.
- Keep your racquet face open
- Referring to the simple tip, set the racquet face's plane and just move it into the ball with forward and slightly downward motion.

The last thing is that volleys are about angles. The whole point of getting up to the net to volley is that you now have angles available to you that you didn't have at the baseliine. With the racquet out in front of you and a nice, simple motion, you can learn to angle off the ball with a shot that's fairly high percentage for you and really hard for you opponent to get.

4. Stay calm and don't grip the racket too hard. Don't be intimidated by a fast shot. Relax, and just get a racket on it. You'll surprise yourself with what you can do just by getting a racket on the ball.

Yep.

fuzz nation
01-28-2012, 04:25 PM
Decent advice from the gang already.

One thought on the approach shot that can make a huge difference is taking care to place it deep. If a net-rusher leaves an approach shot short, that gives an opponent some greater angles to use for attempting a passing shot. Try to land your approaches at least half way back in the back box of your opponent's end for starters, but if you're a good slicer, a great approach will land only a couple of feet inside the far baseline.

Another essential for successful net-crashing is the half volley where you pick the ball up immediately off its bounce on your side as you move forward. Instead of hitting that ball like a ground stroke, this shot requires a firm wrist and quiet arm as you move through the shot much like a typical volley. Not much of a swing to worry about here. Since it's not likely that you'll get all the way across no man's land every time you rush the net, the half volley is another useful tool to bridge the gap.

I grew up playing serve & volley tennis on grass courts, so I can truly appreciate the skill set you're looking to develop in your game. Much of this will be about developing instincts for just what to do and when to do it. It will probably buck you a little along the way, but you're going to become a night-and-day more capable player. Keep your eye on your long term goals and enjoy the ride!

junbumkim
01-28-2012, 07:18 PM
Before we get into anything technical, 3 weeks is not a realistic time frame to improve a stroke / volley to a noticeable extent, so don't be disappointed if you don't see the improvement that you hoped to see.

Technique wise, always keep your elbow in front of your body. This will help you keep the racket out in front. And, keep your racket above your wrist.

Keep your base wide - feet a littler wider than your shoulder. This helps you stay down low and quickly change your direction.

Strategy wise, the basic strategy is to hit DTL and cover the line. Like i said, it's "basic", there are times when you hit a crosscourt shot and have a chance to move in. Any good time to move in as when you see the opponent on the dead run and you know the ball is going to float.

Sometimes, you want to flatten your shot out, or slice backhand it. Or, you can hit a deep looping shot so your opponent is pushed back and has to hit it above shoulder level. This can be a very tough shot to deal with.

WildVolley
01-28-2012, 07:52 PM
Good advice so far.

Here's my opinion. Learn to move forward on shorter balls that you can either drive into the court or that force you to hit under to get it over the net. You can use topspin to approach if you hit the ball with enough pace and your opponent isn't timing it.

If the ball is not in a position to drive or you want to switch things up, work on your slice approach. Down the line is going to be the general rule. You want a sliding slice not a sitting or floating slice. Cutting it short can work if your opponent is deep.

After you hit the approach keep coming forward but gather your balance and don't panic, relax as you get close to the net. Split step or slow your motion before your opponent hits, or as he hits. Look to keep closing the net, but be ready for the lob (that's one of the reasons balance is important).

Move your feet. Keeping your balance and moving your feet is going to be more important at first than the volley technique, but do hold a continental grip, move to the ball, keep your back-swing short and your motion simple, and keep your head still thru contact.

Good luck and force yourself to approach on those short balls. The panic I often see with baseliners will go away if they practice it more until it becomes comfortable to be up at the net.

Bagumbawalla
01-29-2012, 01:25 PM
I would suggest that if, you are going to work on something, work on first improving the skills you have.

Strive to become more consistant. Work on stamina and fitness. Work on placing your serve and developing a strong, reliable second serve. Work on your form and practice a more offensive drive.

If you have the, above, skills it will be easier for you to work your way to the net. In general, when you take the net, you want the opponent to be faced with making some kind of defensive shot. It would be difficult to feel confident going to the net with the skills you have described.

Then you should find a book of tennis drills (if you are serious about this) and begin a routine of workouts- volleys, half-volleys, smashes (because you will get lobbed) and strategies.

All that may take a bit longer than 3 weeks, so, at the end of those 3 weeks, just keep on practicing.

junbumkim
01-29-2012, 06:34 PM
two drills that I recommend for volley is
1) to volley against the wall. You can vary the distance, and you really learn to keep your racket out in front and make a clean contact.

2) You will need a fairly good player to do this. Volley with another person, but you first bounce the ball off your string then volley. This will REALLY REALLY force you to keep your eyes on the ball and keep your racket OUT IN FRONT, otherwise you will fail miserably. You can look for this drill on youtube.

charliefedererer
01-29-2012, 09:56 PM
Ian at Essential Tennis has just produced three videos that I think will be of help.

They may at seem to be aimed more at doubles, but really are how to approach the net, when and how to split step, how to move in at a diagonal to cut off a passing shot in the same way you would move in at a diagonal to poach, and how to position yourself and how to retreat back to hit your overhead off of lobs. http://www.doublesdomination.com/fe/20443-dominate-the-transition-game

BU-Tennis
01-30-2012, 10:00 PM
I agree with Bagumbawalla, you need to develop more consistency/power in your strokes before you begin to try and add too much variety into your game. If you don't have the power to end points with winners/forced errors, or you do not have enough consistency in your strokes to win long rallies and be a "pusher", "counterpuncher," etc. then the transition game should be the least of your worries at this point.

Until you can work the points and put your opponent in a more defensive position, then coming to the net will never be a good option. This isn't to say you shouldn't practice your transition game, for which good advice has already been given and doesn't need to be repeated by me. By practicing becoming a more forceful players, than you will become a more forceful player.

Don't get me wrong, I appreciate you are trying to expand your game, but if you are playing in the 3/3.5/4.0 levels, than working on becoming a very consistent player before working on your attacking game will prove much more successful in the long run.

BirdWalkR
01-31-2012, 04:37 PM
I agree with Bagumbawalla, you need to develop more consistency/power in your strokes before you begin to try and add too much variety into your game. If you don't have the power to end points with winners/forced errors, or you do not have enough consistency in your strokes to win long rallies and be a "pusher", "counterpuncher," etc. then the transition game should be the least of your worries at this point.

Until you can work the points and put your opponent in a more defensive position, then coming to the net will never be a good option. This isn't to say you shouldn't practice your transition game, for which good advice has already been given and doesn't need to be repeated by me. By practicing becoming a more forceful players, than you will become a more forceful player.

Don't get me wrong, I appreciate you are trying to expand your game, but if you are playing in the 3/3.5/4.0 levels, than working on becoming a very consistent player before working on your attacking game will prove much more successful in the long run.

Well its not that my baseline game isn't strong enough to go against other pretty good baseliners. But rather skillwise me and my opponents are sometimes so close I'm having trouble getting free easy points and the game could go just about either way. Thats raelly what I'm looking to do by closing in to the net. Getting free easier points to disturb other baseliners rythmn.

LeeD
01-31-2012, 04:50 PM
Like Nadal and Murray, baseline play alone doesn't allow your potential to max out, you gotta add net play, touch, and finesse along with baseline topspin grind with wheels to match.
Unfortunately, it's a relatively long learning experience. Movement up and back is different from side to side, you have to adopt a "forget the last" ball philosophy, and you have to really believe that it will work in the long run. You have to instantly forget your opponent's great passing shots, his lucky passing shots, and your own errors, mishits, or too conservative volleys.
Could be a big step backwards in results, before the step up starts to happen.
But you gotta do it. The court is pretty big, so why not use most of it?

5263
01-31-2012, 07:52 PM
If a net-rusher leaves an approach shot short, that gives an opponent some greater angles to use for attempting a passing shot.

Lots of good advice from the guys here and most is right on target like with ballinbob and Fuzz nation, but not sure what fuzz is saying above. Yes the angles do open up some for them, but Shorter slices can actually help you to cut down the angles, as the closer your are to their contact, the less angle they have to pass you due to your proximity, so this offsets things to a large extent. Also shorter slices bring them closer to net, so they must lift the ball steeper which helps you as well. As long as you don't use a big angle, they won't have much chance to give one back, unless you hit so short it is nearly drop shot.

This is why when we follow the ball to net, it means exactly that because the more you can go straight to the ball and the closer you can get, the more you cut down the usable angles against you and the more you can break to the ball to intercept the pass. Some players try to work sideways and in, but get caught in a bad angle due to how it lets them hit behind you. Directly following the ball in, combined with a low, slow, skidding slice makes it very hard to get the pace and angle to pass you, along with making lobs tough as well. I want them to lob and get quite close to net compared to some, but make it tough for them to lob by keeping slices low and it tends to set up some nice overheads. I don't mind going back for lobs and I show that with my play.

You are right on track about transition being so important, so with that in mind, maybe you should consider approaching mainly on balls near the center. With these you can go to what you feel is their weaker side and not be so predictable with the dtl so often. You can also use your better slice wing, Bh for most top players, and execute your best slice approach on balls you take in the middle near your center T. This really gives you great control over the lay of the land for the transition.

fuzz nation
02-02-2012, 07:32 AM
I think I know what you mean there ^^^.

My idea is to encourage a player transitioning forward to keep their opponents deeper in their end. Leaving a ball short for an opponent before you've crossed no-man's land to the net will usually make it easier for that opponent to put you in trouble I think.

I love hitting a semi-short ball though, once I've moved forward. That can be the best recipe for getting opponents to hit up and give me a crack at a put-away.

Larrysümmers
02-02-2012, 07:38 AM
tight wrist, tight grip. the closer you are to the net the less of a back swing you need. approach on dtl shots cover the line but protect the cc pass. expect to be passed once in a while. move your feet. watch the ball as you make contact. try not to do too much.
thats all the help i can give haha

5263
02-02-2012, 07:52 AM
I think I know what you mean there ^^^.

My idea is to encourage a player transitioning forward to keep their opponents deeper in their end. Leaving a ball short for an opponent before you've crossed no-man's land to the net will usually make it easier for that opponent to put you in trouble I think.

I love hitting a semi-short ball though, once I've moved forward. That can be the best recipe for getting opponents to hit up and give me a crack at a put-away.

I get what you are saying now as well. Yes, keeping them deeper prior to your transition can help as you say.

Nellie
02-02-2012, 09:21 AM
I don't mean so so snide, but hard volleys (below the net and with pace) are hard and easy volleys (above the net and slower) are easy. It takes a lot of work to handle those hard volleys, so your immediate goal should be to put yourself in situations to hit more easy volleys.

I like to move forward to volley either off an approach shot from a short ball or when I feel that I hit a good ground stroke (deep or long) that I feel will put the opponent on the defensive.

On the second situations, the hard part is that you are basically guessing the response **before** the opponent hits. So, you have to get a feel for your game and what the opponent does not handle well. Typically, I am coming forward as part of my follow-through if my opponent will need to hit on the run (I am changing direction to go down the line or hitting a drop shot) because, then, the opponent needs to hit a hard shot while having to aim around me. Sometimes, there are people who are great on the run/handling pace, so you have to be a little more passive.