More Difficult to Learn: Baseline Tennis or Serve and Volley?

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by HoyaPride, Nov 12, 2013.

  1. HoyaPride

    HoyaPride Semi-Pro

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    Which do you find more difficult to learn and play?
     
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  2. bblue777

    bblue777 Banned

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    The answer is - S&F - Serve and Forehand lol.
     
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  3. Fintft

    Fintft Hall of Fame

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    Good answer, but I'd narrow it to Serve.

    And to answer the OP, baseline for sure and that includes dealing with short balls or coming to the net.

    You don't have to S&V, except maybe as a surprise factor.
     
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  4. MauricioDias

    MauricioDias Rookie

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    Serve and volley is more difficult to learn and to execute in an effective way. Effective baseline tennis is also difficult, but IMO is more difficult to make S&V work.
     
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  5. HoyaPride

    HoyaPride Semi-Pro

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    Yeah, but that doesn't really answer my question. I'm asking which style is more difficult to learn.
     
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  6. Topspin Shot

    Topspin Shot Legend

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    Probably serving and volleying, unless you have a natural affinity for net play. I'm a decent net player, and I serve and volley in doubles, but my skills up there aren't good enough to come in off the serve in singles. I win most of my points with consistent, heavy topspin groundstrokes through I will come in off an approach shot.
     
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  7. dominikk1985

    dominikk1985 Legend

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    that is the easiest style out there:). most americans do use that style (roddick, isner, Harrison, blake, raonic, sock).

    however with today's slow Courts that style more and more gets into a disadvantage. Players like fed do have great serves and FHs but also great movement and BHs.

    I think the time when big slugging serve and FH Bombers can win is over. the last of them was probably Fernando gonzalez, although his BH got better in the end too. but in the 00s that was a really common style.
     
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  8. Fintft

    Fintft Hall of Fame

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    At the pro level, the baseliners are the best, does that answer your question?
    Very hard to learn to play like Djokovic.

    Even at club level, are you sure it's easy to learn to play well with your groundstrokes? And move very well? etc.
     
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2013
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  9. dominikk1985

    dominikk1985 Legend

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    BTW no Player grew up learning S&V. all the S&V Players also were excellent baseliners. I'm pretty sure most of them played mostly baseline Tennis till about 15/16 because before that Age the serve is usually not strong enough to make S&V work but the court for passing is just as big.

    I know that sampras and becker played mostly baseline as Kids. no Player can succeed without a very good baseline Play, even karlovic has vry good groundstrokes (but he cannot use them against ATP Players because his feet are too slow).

    every Player in history grew up learning baseline Tennis first. the only difference now is that they don't learn much else mostly (unless guys like federer or haas).
     
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  10. Ballinbob

    Ballinbob Hall of Fame

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    Serve and volleying requires a go-hard attitude and willingness to take risk. Not everyone is cut out for that though which is why there are few good S&V players.

    However, in terms of difficulty, I think serve and volleying is a little easier than baseline play. You serve and follow it up to the net to win the point in 1-2 shots. There are less things that you have to worry about I feel.

    Baseline play requires you to worry about directionals/short balls/net clearance. There is a lot more strategizing here. This is all my opinion of course, it'll vary from person to person.

    I think if the person is an athlete, willing to learn,
    and willing to take some risk I think S&V can be taught successfully up to the very highest of levels
     
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  11. Topspin Shot

    Topspin Shot Legend

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    I think there's a lot of strategy involved in serve and volley play. The placement of the serve is all the more important, along with the decision you face every point of where to go with the first volley. Just because the points are shorter doesn't mean there is less strategy.
     
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  12. Say Chi Sin Lo

    Say Chi Sin Lo Legend

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    I think it's more difficult to learn WHEN to come in, and WHEN to stay the f*** back and just chill.
     
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  13. dknotty

    dknotty Semi-Pro

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    I think to serve and volley you need to have a reasonable half volley and I think this is the hardest shot to learn.
     
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  14. dominikk1985

    dominikk1985 Legend

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    more importantly you need a live arm. most S&V Players since the early 90s have been guys with booming serves. there are guys like rafter and Edberg but most have been huge Servers that could serve 135+.

    philipoussis, karlovic, ruesedski, goran and Krajicek haven't even been great volleyers but they could bomb serves. basically their game revolves about hitting Service winners and killing weak replies at the net.
     
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  15. Attila_the_gorilla

    Attila_the_gorilla Professional

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    I agree. I think transitional play is the most difficult aspect of tennis, especially against today's fast dipping topspin shots. Even being up at the net, volleying is difficult against heavy topspin.
     
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  16. RetroSpin

    RetroSpin Hall of Fame

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    It's tougher to "learn" S&V because you have to get really good at serving. The hardest thing in tennis is to develop a dominating serve. Once you have one, the rest is pretty easy.

    S&V also requires a different mindset. S&V players accept that they will lose a lot of points. You are playing aggressively and opening yourself up to getting passed. Not everyone is comfortable with that.
     
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  17. dknotty

    dknotty Semi-Pro

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    Here here.

    Replies (whether weak or offensive) that land near your feet (especially as you're moving forward fast) are difficult to dispatch offensively.
     
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  18. 2ndServe

    2ndServe Professional

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    most people can't even serve (and by serve I don't mean just get it in the box), even less can volley, 90% of the tennis population can't hit overheads, about 2% can hit half volleys.

    I see plenty of people do it in doubles, I might have seen 1 person in the last 5 years do it effectively in singles. I see every hack play baseline tennis and I've seen plenty of great players play baseline tennis. There is a certain skill level needed to do this at a high level of play. There's a reason you don't see it, it's because people can't. I might see 1 in 1000 do it well. I do it on both 1st and 2nd serves yet I find it very very difficult to do in a singles match. To do it well in singles takes a certain cat like quickness 99.9% people don't have.

    Also this is a ridiculously trivial question.
     
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2013
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  19. user92626

    user92626 Legend

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    Ridiculous statement. What or whose standard do you go by to say that "most people can't even serve"? Last time I check just about everyone at my parks can serve and play tennis just fine.
     
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  20. HughJars

    HughJars Banned

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    Of course S&V is harder! Its a no-brainer. IMO anyway...

    To effectively serve and volley you need a damn good serve that you can aim effectively, and put pace/spin on to force a short or floating return. Then a damn good net game, and an ability to position yourself properly when coming into the net.

    At the lower levels, from the baseline you can play pusher tennis and dink the ball back...although dont get me wrong I think its a well crafted skill in itself to be able to just keep the ball in play and wait for an error from the opponent.

    If S&V was easier to learn, then why does no one do it anymore?
     
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  21. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    I'd say that serve and volley is more easy to learn for a good athlete and with less coaching imo. It benefits from being unusual as well these days.

    A good solid baseline game is quite unusual to see as it requires excellent movement, good TS on both sides, good slice on both sides and the ability to attack mid court balls as well.

    Coming to net does require slice, volley and overhead, but you can use the easier kick serve. The slice and volley are virtually the same stroke and the overhead is just a modified, easier serve. Just my thoughts on it.
     
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  22. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    I do agree that S & V is a tough way to be a consistent winner in singles these days, but still think it is the quickest way to become a ok player and compete well for an athletic person. If you are just looking at rec and/or doubles, S&V fits very nicely.
     
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  23. HughJars

    HughJars Banned

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    Serve and forehand is not a 'style'!!!! Its simply putting away the short return from their massive serves either by hitting to the open court or hitting behind their opponent - this is basic tennis strategy!!!!
     
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  24. Ballinbob

    Ballinbob Hall of Fame

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    Rafter and Edberg used a kick serve every single time they came in. Worked very well for them obviously, but I don't think a lot of strategy went into that. Jmac would often serve to the backhand, and even though the opponent knew it was coming, he was able to execute very well and made it work.

    There's less overall strategy in serve and volley than baseline play, IMO. And I do think it's because the points are shorter. The 20+ shot rallies we see today in the pro game requires a lot of strategic thinking.

    There are so many more ways to win a point at the baseline vs winning a point at the net. The baseline point will often require 5-6 shots before you can put the ball away. With S&V this isn't the case. You can hit every single first volley without exception into the open court and do very, very well given you have a decent serve/volley.

    I can see why people are saying that S&V is hard to learn, but in terms of just strategy, I think baseline play is harder, even if it's by a little bit. This isn't to diss S&V play either. I like the simplicity of S&V and I often play better when I "just do it" and don't over-think

    My theory why:
    1. It takes a person who is gutsy and isn't afraid to go for it. There are few people who are like this
    2. People hit with a lot of topspin nowadays and it's difficult to volley back.

    I wish there were more S&V players though. I saw two DI doubles players at an Open Tournament who often S&Ved and it was a breath of fresh air.
     
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  25. HughJars

    HughJars Banned

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    Simple actually: when your oppoent is forced off the court, when you get a floating return off your serve, or when you get a short ball - you can elect to come in to the net on the approach.

    This is all basic strategy dude.
     
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  26. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    There is a ton more to it than you suggest here.
     
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  27. Attila_the_gorilla

    Attila_the_gorilla Professional

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    Well the difficulty in serve and volley is obviously not the srategy, just purely the high level of touch, reflex and skill it takes to hit effective half-volleys, volleys and overheads.
     
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  28. HughJars

    HughJars Banned

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    Yeah, I was being really general...easier said than done for sure
     
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  29. HughJars

    HughJars Banned

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    This.

    .....
     
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  30. Ballinbob

    Ballinbob Hall of Fame

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    Yeah that's exactly what I'm saying. I think if your hitting too many half-volleys you're doing something wrong though. But yes I agree that half-volleys aren't easy at all
     
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  31. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    S&V you are going to get quite a few half volleys, but they are not that bad for someone accustomed to slice and volley,....especially given the practice you will get doing it, lol. Imo those skills are all very related and feed off one another.
     
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  32. dknotty

    dknotty Semi-Pro

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    If you've got a secret for handling half volleys I'm keen to hear! I often find I'm taking them close to the body, below the net level.
     
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  33. Noisy Ninja

    Noisy Ninja Rookie

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    Serve & Volley is more difficult to "learn" in my view. In order to become successful at S & V, you have to not only learn the various skills required to succeed in that style...but you have to acquire anticipation of where the opponent's return is going and move forward to intersect the ball. Learning to anticipate where an opponent's ball is going involves a lot of trial and error. You can't learn to anticipate simply from being taught..you have to learn from experience...and that means getting passed...often. It's a learning process that is humiliating and discouraging for any player as you are being essentially being relegated to doing something that will inevitably result in failure more often than not...but is part of the learning process.
    Most junior players I know have developed strong baseline games and can succeed reasonably well amongst their peers by exchanging ground-strokes. However, the moment you try to teach them how to S & V to introduce more versatility into their game...they inevitably falter and balk at being relegated to a losing proposition. Only a few have the skill, mind-set, and determination to persevere in learning a new style. From my experience and observation, S & V is definitely more difficult to learn for the simple fact that it is a skill that is typically taught AFTER someone has already developed a baseline game and players are less inclined to learn a new skill that has a high learning curve.
     
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  34. RetroSpin

    RetroSpin Hall of Fame

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    I agree with this. S & V is hard to use at higher levels without a dominating serve, but, for a big, athletic guy who has played other sports maybe and is taking up tennis, it is the quickest way to get competitive.

    If someone has played say, baseball, volleying is not all that tough. If you played basketball or soccer, the movement is not all that tough. Once you learn to serve halfway decently, volley and hit overheads, you're good to go.

    The thing about S&V is that you're always a threat even to a better player. You're forcing the action and making him hit passing shots. If a 4.5 is playing a 3.5 baseliner, he can just sit there and hit stuff back, not take any chances and win love and love. If that 3.5 is a 6'4 former basketball player who is on top of the net at every opportunity, the 4.5 is going to have to produce some shots.
     
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  35. dominikk1985

    dominikk1985 Legend

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    yes but there are Players who only rely on serve and FH (like isner). a Problem is that very good and tall Juniors might dominate with that Approach and never feel the Need to work on the rest of their game.

    I know a guy who was an early bloomer as a kid. he was very tall and strong at Age 14 and he had technically great strokes. because of that he could really crush the ball and blast winners left and right. he easily dominated Junior competition and was nationally ranked very high.

    but when he started to compete with the adults he could never adjust because his shots were coming back. he still Plays (he is like 22 now) but could never live up to his potential as a kid. he does have great strokes and power but his movement and defense is not up to the same Standard (he also was a hot head and smashed Rackets:)).

    I think learning to blast serves and hit FH winners behind it is important. Players like fed or nadal do it all the time.

    but there is definitely a danger to rely too much on blasting opponents away especially if the kid is a tall and strong kid. that can backfire later as the competition gets better (just like winning Junior tournaments by moonballing which also will fail later).

    there are quite a few 140 mph serve/100mph FH guys on tour who always lose against guys like david ferrer because their Approach doesn't work and then they have no plan B.
     
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  36. coaching32yrs

    coaching32yrs Semi-Pro

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    Wow. You got it exactly right. There is a long learning curve for the reasons you state plus you have to learn to hit high volleys, low volleys, shoe top volleys, half volleys etc. Fast balls, medium balls, no pace balls- they all get hit a bit differently. It is a mindset and a feel - there is a rhythym to it. Very very few juniors have the desire and commitment to learn it. Too bad because it is so much fun to play and an effective weapon in the tool kit.
     
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  37. 2ndServe

    2ndServe Professional

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    How is this a question. I've never seen a 12 yo, 14 or even 16 yo do it correctly. I've seen like 1 woman in my time of watching tennis do it well, Martina. You can count on your hands the number of guys who could do it in singles. It's that tough a skill set. Besides all the tough low and half volleys, even the high service line volley is tough. Go watch how many players who can consistently put away the high float ball from service line or slightly behind it. You can probably count that number on 1 finger or less. It's not as easy as people think to do it consistently.
     
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  38. GuyClinch

    GuyClinch Hall of Fame

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    S and V is tough - and so is chip and charge. This is why it pains me whenever someone has trouble with a pusher - people are like take him to the net. Most of the time the victim of the pusher is terrible at the net - probably worse then the pusher..

    Most people want to smash groundstrokes and stay at the baseline..
     
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  39. andreh

    andreh Professional

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    S&V, without question.
     
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  40. boosted180

    boosted180 New User

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    I think it depends on the player and the opponent you're playing. For me personally, when I feel a lot of pressure and get tight, my forehand is the first thing that breaks down. In these cases, I go to the net more often and win many more points at the net than staying back and hitting from the baseline.

    At the net, it's all just refexes and feel (which are my strengths) vs. if I stay at the baseline, I have to deal with my weakness which is tightness under pressure and thinking too much.

    Also if you play pushers who dont hit with a whole lot of pace, and generally dont have great passing shots, it's great coming to the net. In fact, I've recently discovered that this is my strategy for beating them. If I stay at the baseline with these guys, they'll just push and moon-ball until I make a mistake.
     
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  41. andreh

    andreh Professional

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    FYI, the question was about learning S&V as opposed to learning to play baseline, not playing when you already know how.

    Undoubtedly, learning to hit forehands and backhands from the baseline is much easier than learning to serve and volley.
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2013
    #41
  42. GoudX

    GoudX Professional

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    Lets ignore the serve for a second as that is essential for both.

    Learning basic continental grip badminton style baseline shots is the easiest type of tennis. Volleying is actually a simplified version of this, so it is more of a natural progression from basic beginner technique serve and volley playing is probably easier for an absolute beginner. Big topspin forehands and heavy undercut slices on the other hand are much less natural movements, making them much harder to learn, which is why there are very few low level players with impressive groundstroke shots.

    Go to the highest levels of the game and suddenly everyone has very sound technique it becomes about reaction times and movement. Then it is clearly much more difficult to learn to S&V effectively, as so many more pro players play from the baseline. This is because playing at the net makes it much more difficult to react in time, as the ball gets to you sooner, giving you far fewer options on how to position yourself and swing to hit the ball (try hitting an inside out buggy whip forehand at the net if you don't believe me). This means only those with very effective serves and great touch at the net can get away with serve and volleying repeatedly at higher levels, as only these players will get consistently easy volleys which they can put away easily.

    There is more variety of styles in baseline tennis, so there are more ways you can build a game. In particular you can build strengths to cover most deficiencies from the baseline, but a good serve or adequate volleys will completely prevent success at S&V.
     
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  43. Fintft

    Fintft Hall of Fame

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    ^^^^
    I agree with the points on the beginner technique, except that it might be hard to "learn" to get to the net fast :)

    As for the top level, your last setence should probably read "the lack a good serve or adequate volleys will completely prevent success at S&V", correct?

    I still think that at the top level also it's easier to learn S&V, as oposed to great baseline play....
     
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  44. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    I apologise, I don't have long computer time, and didn't read all the posts.
    Of course, any net play involves a different grip, another whole set of strategy, that much more practice time, IN ADDITION to learning the baseline game.
     
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  45. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

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    If you are under 35 and playing a Modern game, you likely don't have to learn a baseline game, you already have one. The only thing you'd have to learn would be an all court game, such as S&V.
     
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  46. borg number one

    borg number one Legend

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    Though some players augment baseline play with serve and volley tennis, serve and volley tennis is often utilized because that player cannot win points in baseline rallies. Really solid, variety filled baseline tennis takes a lot of work (skill) as well as athleticism and stamina. Not all players are capable of pulling that off, so they choose to utilize more serve and volley tennis. For others, it's another tool in the toolbox in addition to a solid baseline game.
     
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  47. TomT

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    Just speaking from my own experience, serve and volley has been harder for me, both in terms of learning it and playing it. Not that I can actually do it (or anything else in tennis) very well yet with any consistency. But, you know, 'my version' of S&V vs 'my version' of baseline play. :) The S&V is harder.
     
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  48. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    It's not really "harder", but it does take double the time, which none of us has.
    Let's say you're a good 3.5 baseliner. Took you 3 years to get there, didn't it? Now to learn to volley, might take you another 2 years of dedicated S/V tennis.
    Meanwhile, you peer has practiced his baseline game TWO MORE YEARS than you have, because you were focused on S/V.
    More weapons take more time to learn. And can't USE any new weapon until you learn it.
     
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  49. corbind

    corbind Professional

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    I'm not qualified to answer properly since I spend very little time at the baseline and live at the net. My guess it would be easier developing an average 3.5 pure baseline game as opposed to an average 3.5 pure S&V. Why?

    Having a "good" serve is essential in S&V. Having that as a baseliner is not needed. A serve simply starts the rally. Further the opportunity to practice baseline skills is prevalent. Practicing volley and half vollies is a turn off for the guy feeding you and not as realistic practicing those against a wall.
     
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  50. Fintft

    Fintft Hall of Fame

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    ^^^^^
    At my humble level, I'm not so sure that one needs a better serve in order to S&V, b/c the opponents also get scared by you crushing the net....

    Wait you said "good" not "better than your regular one, used in baseline play"! My point is only about relative to each other styles than.
     
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