Serve and volley beginner tips

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by FedExpress17, Mar 19, 2013.

  1. FedExpress17

    FedExpress17 Rookie

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    Having played tennis for about 2 years now i consider myself to be a decent enough beginner. Ive been told by my fellow players at training that I'm good at the net but i still find myself getting passed or lobbed often, particularly when following a first or second serve to net. What are some basic tips for improving my serve and volley game? Thanks guys :)
     
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  2. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    1. Serve to your opponent's weaker returning side, whether you like a hard ball to volley (their forehands), or a slow spinny ball (their backhands).
    2. Decide whether you are going to cut off his passing shots or cover his lob attempts. You can't do both, so the first, move to 2' inside your service line and await his pass. If you cover his lobs, stay at the service line to cover any lob with 3 full steps.
    Improve your serve.
     
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  3. FedExpress17

    FedExpress17 Rookie

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    Thanks for the advice LeeD. Will try it out in practice this week :)
     
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  4. Nellie

    Nellie Hall of Fame

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    Some pointers:

    1) I find that I have way better results serving and volleying with a spinning serve than a flat serve because it gives me a little extra time to get to the net. With the serve and volley - I am an not trying to hit an ace as much as put myself in a position to hit a good first vollet. With the flat serve, a return is often coming back so fast, that I cannot get set in time to get a good volley.

    2) practice moving out the serve and toward the net. You can get a lot faster and get closer to the net before the opponent hits the returns. Try practicing this without a ball or hitting the serve (it just complicates your practice)

    3) you need to **stop** with a good jump step right before the opponent hits the return so that your body is in control. If you are moving forward, there is no way you can adjust to hit the volley. If it is hard for you stop, practice taking a jump step at the service line, so you can wait (in control) for the return.

    4). Mix up serve and volley with staying back. With serve and volley, the opponent will often try to hit short (to your feet) and when you stay back, the oppponent is trying to hit high and deep. When you catch the opponent with the wrong return, you can get good results.
     
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  5. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Wouldn't that depend on how strong your serve is?
    Milos and Dr.Ivo come in on their first serves.
    I come in on my first serves. Few players, even 5.0's can take a full swing at it, if it goes in where I wanted it to go. Reply is often a high, short, slow return of serve, so I can botch the putaway volley, or volley it into their best passing shot side.
    On my kick or top/slice second serves, often bouncing up to shoulder and above heights, they just chip it to my feet, with moderate pace, and make me dig and dig.
     
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  6. Tight Lines

    Tight Lines Professional

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    Bingo! If you have a decent speed serve, you will be in no man's land when the opponent hits the return. If your opponent is hitting a lob and you can't get to it, that means you are probably busy running toward the net when he is returning the ball. You MUST STOP and split step even if you are not even close to the service line. Go watch videos of pros coming in on their serve. They are stopping after two steps and some times after one step.

    I have trouble doing this too as I catch myself running toward the net when my opponent returns my serve. Usually, good guys know that I am coming in and they will tend to hit a heavy topspin to my feet.:evil::evil:

    Harry
     
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  7. FedExpress17

    FedExpress17 Rookie

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    Thanks for the great tips guys. Really looking forward to putting this advice into practice tomorrow. If i might ask another quick question, if i manage a decent first serve, what should I aim to do with the first volley? Should i hit it with a bit of swing and pace and try to aim it within a few inches of the baseline or try to focus on just keeping it in play? I find volleying off fast moving balls can be a recipe for disaster at times, if my racquet face isnt angled correctly the ball can fly off into space or into the net :p
     
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  8. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    NEVER ever try to hit within "inches" of any line, except maybe the service line on serves, overheads, and some volleys.
    You are not pro, and even pros seldom aim for inches.
    A decent volley within 3' of the baseline line, AT YOUR LEVEL, is going to solicit a weak enough return for you to put away the next ball.
    And within 3' of the sidelines also...you need both.
    At 4.5, you might go 2' inside both lines, if volleying is your specialty.
    Approch volley DTL, putway volleys mostly CC, but can be DTL behind your opponent.
     
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  9. OHBH

    OHBH Semi-Pro

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    When you serve and volley you really shouldn't ever have to worry about lobs. If your opponent is able to hit a good topspin lob off of your serve with decent consistency, then your serve isn't good enough to serve and volley. Sure their will be a few occasional times where your opponent will hit an accidental lob but those will be defensive lobs with backspin and you should be able to get back to them provided you do a proper split step instead of barrelling into the net.
     
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  10. marsh

    marsh Rookie

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    If your swinging at the volley, then that might be the first problem, unless you are intentionally hitting a swinging volley. I know this sounds strange, but a volley should have very little if any take back/ back swing. If your first volley is taken around the service line, then look to volley to the opposite side of the court (if you playing singles), if you can get closer to the net than the service line for the first volley, then go ahead and put it away. Also, don't forget the underspin on your volleys.
     
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  11. Chas Tennis

    Chas Tennis Hall of Fame

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    I like the instructions from Brett Hobden from this linked earlier thread on volleying.

    If I move or step forward, usually better things happen by adding pace and taking away time from my opponent. It's surprising how well some balls dropping in front of you can be handled.

    Brett explains especially how to take the pace off a drive at you and drop the volley short - he calls it 'losing the collision'. I use my DVR when watching TV broadcasts and the pros frequently use this technique to drop volleys short.

    It is very easy to drop volley using his instruction when practicing but I have not incorporated it enough in my doubles matches.

     
    Last edited: May 7, 2013
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  12. Mick3391

    Mick3391 Professional

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    A couple of things;

    First, Lee and others have some great advice.

    When you say S&V people automatically think serve then net, I don't see this as true S&V although that is common. It's important to mix it up, for example get into a baseline rally, watch where your opponent is going, then rush mid court, grab the ball in the air and hit it where he isn't. If not move forward to the net. I'm a believer in incremental advancement to the net. Mid court, then net.

    If you find yourself at the net, and your opponent hasn't committed himself, you may be in real trouble. As others have said, driving a shot to where you know your opponent can barely get it, or by hitting low slow shots usually yields a poor return setting you up for a winner. Too many come to the net, get passed then say "This doesn't work", it does, they just aren't doing it right.

    Watch Youtube videos of Rod Laver, for example against Jimmy Conners. Many today come straight in on the net, that is a great way to be passed, you can come straight in on the net if you can anticipate where your opponent's shot is going, but I prefer mid court more than net. Laver could be at net, then extend full distance say to the left and place it, he was awesome!

    Good luck!
     
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  13. Fusker

    Fusker Rookie

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    Print this - rinse and repeat -

    And I'll add #5: Work on your overheads. Not easy little feeds but lobs to your backhand, deep overheads, and lobs into the sun. I don't care how good you are as a serve and volleyer, you'll never be 100% successful at eliminating a lob opportunity. It's less likely to come off the serve as it is a response to your volley. You start crushing those early lobs and they stop happening real fast. Dink them back, frame them, or whiff and you can expect a heavy dose of it the rest of the match.
     
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  14. barringer97

    barringer97 Rookie

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    For me, since I was a big billiards player, I'm always thinking about angles and the next shot. I try and make the court as small as possible (for the opponent) and I try and get to the position where I feel the ball is likely going to come back, not by watching their shot, but more of where my previous shot's location is.
     
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  15. 2ndServe

    2ndServe Professional

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    get a high percentage of 1st serves, develop a strong 2nd serve, have a good overhead, learn to close the net, learn to be consistently offensive with high floaters near the service line (I think this is more difficult than most think). Learn to hit half volleys, low volleys, put a low skiddish/side spin to the low volley.

    I strongly believe you need to close well to hit a good offensive volley down into the court or with a good angle. You simply can't do that at the service line. Of course if you close well people are going to lob so you must have a strong overhead.

    That being said I think the reason sv tennis was so effective in the past was the high number of one handed backhand players. You can sv to a 1hbh with good success but with the extreme grips, 2hbh, rackets and strings your success coming in is drastically reduced in singles.
     
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  16. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Adding onto Nellie's advice . . . .

    I have teammates tell me the cannot serve and volley because it messes up their serve. That is because they don't actually practice S&V.

    When you practice your serve, don't just hit serves. Hit the practice serve, move into the court as though you are S&V. Split step before the second bounce, which is when your phantom opponent would make contact.

    This will help you groove the split and also help make the serve and forward move more coordinated.

    Also, if your volley technique isn't solid enough to hit a good traditional volley from anywhere on the court, this is an issue. Gotta clean that up.
     
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  17. goran_ace

    goran_ace Hall of Fame

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    I also believe in getting as close to the net as possible. It makes that first volley a lot easier and cuts down the opponents angles/opens up your angles. Don't fear the lob. Offensive topspin lobs for winners are rare, but a lot of club level opponents will panic in the face of a serve and volleyer and instead of trying to set up the pass will immediately resort to throwing up lobs. So yeah you are going to have to hit a fair amount of overheads and high volleys, but if you camp out at the service line you're going to be dealin with a lot of of low volleys and half volleys.

    Two things I would add:

    1.) You don't have to hit your overheads as hard as you can. If you're one of those guys who is automatic on overheads, then smash away or bounce it over the back fence at your heart's content - but if you are shanking overheads or missing the court by a country mile, think about making good contact with your strings and angling it off to one side or the other.

    2.) Don't just blindly rush in and see what happens. You are taking an offensive position coming forward, you should have a plan on where you want to be to meet that first volley. I see players at the club always going to the same spot on the court on the center line. Read the ball/your opponent, not the court. Rule of thumb is to follow your serve in (the path of the ball). So if you serve down the T, you want to be centered, but if you serve out wide, you'll want to shade to that side.
     
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  18. goran_ace

    goran_ace Hall of Fame

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    Yes, another common one. As you get more experience with S&V you'll learn to use your momentum from the serve to carry you into your first step towards the net, but when learning to S&V a lot of people get anxious and think about rushing the net while they're still serving. Finish your serve before you start running.
     
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  19. Fuji

    Fuji Legend

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    My little tidbit on overheads as well is: Don't be afraid to slice in an overhead! I used to be all about "grah smash it as hard as it you can!" Then I learned that slice serving in an overhead provides the exact same effect 99% of the time. Plus it brings up consistency.

    Cheers!

    -Fuji
     
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  20. FedExpress17

    FedExpress17 Rookie

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    Hi guys, thanks for all the tips :) I tried to put the advice into action at my most recent practice session but unfortunately I came up against a great player who seemed to get a racquet on every ball i sent into his side of the court. I managed some heavy serves yet as i was rushing the net he sent really high lobs over my head nd they always landed ON the baseline :( add that to the fact that when i did get to volley he lashed the ball straight at me and i couldnt get out of the way in time which led to me shanking the following volleys pretty badly.... All in all a pretty demoralising day on the courts :(
     
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  21. corbind

    corbind Professional

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    I can tell very quickly if serve-and-volley is gonna work on a particular day. If a guy is returning my serves to ugly places for me to volley I'll put back a rotten volley. At then it's really only waiting for him to come in and crack the ball to one of the sides.

    My first volley or approach shot is directly related to how good a chance I have to win the point. Sometimes I get a "short" ball to my backhand, I'll chip it to his BH and after two steps I can tell I've just made a horrible approach then I just wait to get passed.

    I'd agree with those who say a spinny serve lets you get in to the net farther. I prefer to spin them in for that reason. Yet if you have a decent flat serve down the T or wide at the L then you'll have easy volleys as you come in. If the returner has any reasonable time to return a serve (that's not above his head) you're in trouble.

    Experience teaches. Keep going to the net and keep mental notes on:

    • Speed of serve
    • Location of serve
    • How far you get in before split step (and subsequent volley)
    • Opponent's shot selection (block, slice, topsin, hard, slow, etc)
     
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  22. dlam

    dlam Rookie

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    I find the serve and volley to be most natural from the ad side
    When my serve and stay back at the baseline game makes my serve too tight then I will serve and volley to fix my serve during a match
    The other thing I find that works for me is serve and volley on the deuce side is stay with the backhand volley grip at the net
    On the ad side I m ready with the forehand volley grip but I hold the throat of the racket with my left hand
    On the ad serve I keep the volley grip in my right hand
     
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  23. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    Good advice/suggestions, imho ... and stuff that I'll be working on myself.
     
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  24. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    Interesting. For me it seems to be the deuce side. I have no idea why. But then, I'm pretty much still a beginner (about 2 years of playing) so I guess everything I do is subject to change (hopefully for the better).
     
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  25. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    Good points, imho. I get the sense that you're probably a very decent attacking player. Would love to see some vids.
     
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  26. directionals

    directionals Rookie

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    Both the forehand and backhand volleys should be done with the continental grip.
     
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