Topspin approach shots

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by Rickson, Jun 14, 2005.

  1. Rickson

    Rickson G.O.A.T.

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    They're not the ideal approach shots for most people, but there is a situation when they can be very effective; when your opponent has a weak backhand. I use an inside out forehand to right handed opponents and very often, I get a weak response. I've found that it's a very good time to play the net and I've picked apart many weak backhands this way. Heavy paced, topspin shots are often more difficult to return from someone's weak, backhand side than a low, sliced ball, which is considered a good approach. A topspin approach shot can be a good approach when used properly.
     
  2. TwistServe

    TwistServe Guest

    Yep~! Anything you hit that puts your opponent out of their comfort zone can be a great approach shot. The trick is recognizing when you hit a great short that is probably going to force a short ball.. then CHARGE~!!
     
  3. TheGreatBernie

    TheGreatBernie Rookie

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    This is something that I've been questioning about my game. In preparation for other players, I practice with my brother who is a lefty. To make our rallies fun, we try to keep our shots to our forehands which means that I have a lot of practice hitting to rightys' backhands. Whenever I do a topspin approach shot, the ball jumps so it's perfect for him to crush the ball with his forehand. But there is an opposite effect for rightys' who have to deal with their backhands.

    It's fun playing with a lefty. :)
     
  4. Rabbit

    Rabbit G.O.A.T.

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    By and large, approach shots should not be hit crosscourt. They should, 90% of the time, be hit down the line. This lessens considerably the amount of court your opponent has to hit into. I think the quality of the approach shot, placement relative to your opponent, has more to do with the success of the tactic than spin.
     
  5. Ash Doyle

    Ash Doyle Professional

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    Exactly. If you hit your approach shot crosscourt the majority of the time, you will get passed the majority of the time. A crosscourt approach shot just leaves too large of an opening for a passing shot.
     
  6. nViATi

    nViATi Hall of Fame

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    the only exception is when you hit a winner and you don't expect it to be returned and even if it is somehow returned it will be extremely weak. then you can come to net.
    i think?
     
  7. Rabbit

    Rabbit G.O.A.T.

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    Hence the qualification of "by and large"

    Today's players don't understand or ignore the transition game altogether. Andy Roddick acts as if simply getting to net is all this is required. I love playing these kids who've never seen slice, and have been taught to hit everything crosscourt with topspin. A down the line approach followed by an appearance at net is very unnerving to them.
     
  8. Rickson

    Rickson G.O.A.T.

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    Rabbit, hitting inside out forehands are not the best approach shots in general, I already pointed that out, but if an opponent has a weak backhand, this is not a bad strategy. I'll do whatever it takes to win and if it works, I'm gonna do it.
     
  9. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    Nothing wrong with hitting an approach shot with topspin. The trick is not necessarily hitting it with topspin because your opponent has a weak backhand, but deciding whether YOU can hit a good ball without making an error based on the ball you received!

    If you receive a low ball and want to lift it up over the net - that ball might be better handled with a slice. If the ball sits up more - yes, by all means hit an agressive shot if you have confidence in it.
     
  10. Rickson

    Rickson G.O.A.T.

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    I did slice back some low volleys yesterday and the opposing player had a lot of trouble getting to the balls that just died after the bounce.
     
  11. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    When you practice and you develop a certain shot like your topspin approach shot it is no longer a matter of whether you can hit it any more. When you play a match it becomes a matter on whether it is the right shot to take for a particular ball and where you are on the court.

    So much of a match is about making the RIGHT shot which does not translate into hitting a winner. This called shot selection skills which is a big category for me with players. Federer almost always makes the right shot selection for a particular ball and where he is on the court. He reduces his errors sginificantly this way and wins a ton of matches.

    If you can search for the system 5 stuff you should print it and read it. It will give you good ideas for you to improve your game with.

    Like you said, the slice worked because chances are it minimized your chance for error and increased his. That is the right shot. Also, many times taking the right shot does not end the point but is a setup shot for the next few strokes.
     
  12. Rickson

    Rickson G.O.A.T.

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    Bill, you're always on the ball.
     
  13. Rabbit

    Rabbit G.O.A.T.

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    Yes, and I'm sure that's fine when you're playing a 2.5. However, if you plan to improve and play at higher levels, you can't approach crosscourt with success. From about 4.0 and above, both wings become stronger and more reliable. You can check the NTRP characteristics on the USTA site for verfiication. I can tell you though that winning is predicated on constantly improving and what you're doing is not going to improve your game from a tactical standpoint. At the professional ranks it is plausible to run around your backhand consistently because of their footspeed. However, at the club level, it is more reasonable to develop good, sound strokes that are reliaable enough to fend off any such approach shot.

    Approach shots are not intended to win the point outright. I agree that there is nothing wrong with topspin approach shots although i think they are intended more as winners than true approach shots. Approach shots are intended to set up the next shot which should be a volley.
     
  14. newshound

    newshound New User

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    This may be a dumb question, but as a top-spin player, I always hit my approach shots with topspin. Should i be hitting them flatter? Slicing them?
     
  15. Meat

    Meat Rookie

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    Go to the useful links thread sticky and go to the second page. Read the link I posted there on "What's Plan C?". The second page of that thread has all the information you want on approaches.

    Basically, an approach shot is anything that forces or makes your opponent hit off the back foot. Topspin is fine.
     
  16. Rickson

    Rickson G.O.A.T.

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    Except for this particular topspin shot I use on the opponents' backhand side, I usually chip approach shots with underspin so it bounces low. Sliced approach shots that land close to the baseline would be ideal because topspin kicks up high and gives a better passing shot opportunity to your opponent unless of course you topspin it to his backhand like I've mentioned before.
     
  17. Kaptain Karl

    Kaptain Karl Hall Of Fame

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    I'm going to clarify your terminology a little ... speaking of Singles....

    A "chip" approach would hardly ever be my suggestion. Chipped shots -- meaning NOT driven have a tendency to "sit up" after the bounce.

    A "sliced"approach suggests a driven ball. That slice will skid low after the bounce. It's usually a pretty good approach shot.

    - KK
     
  18. Rickson

    Rickson G.O.A.T.

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    That's great, Karl. I hope you're right about this one because you sure were wrong about girls and phone calls.
     
  19. Tennis Ball Hitter

    Tennis Ball Hitter Semi-Pro

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    I have always believed the approach shot to use is slice DTL. Until I read the "whats plan C" thread and I tried the topspin approach which is working well for me ... at my level atleast.

    I have to agree that chip is bad. One of friends use to chip ad charge on me when I wasn't very good. The main reason he won these points is because I buckled under pressure and usually sailed it long or netted it. Now, being a better player chips don't work on me anymore, I'd pass fairly easily.

    And I also believe that as my opponents get better, a topspin approach shot with alot of kick won't cause them half the problems they are now.
     
  20. GuyClinch

    GuyClinch Hall of Fame

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    Let's not get hung up in terminology. Even a lousy player like me knows what you WANT to do is a hit hard driving slice into the corner. People still call this a "chip." Even though technically I guess you don't have to open up your face much at all to hit it.

    But the problem for me is that my slice approach isnt very good. I mean how many times a match do you actually get to hit a backhand slice approach?

    That's the whole problem with the "variety" bit. It only works if you can actually really hit those shots. :p I hit all my approach shots with top spin. Yeah it sits up but at my level a good topspin shot in the corner will still produce an error or a lousy shot.

    Pete
     
  21. Rickson

    Rickson G.O.A.T.

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    Pete, you're a wise man indeed. I may have been wrong to use "chip" and should have called it a slice instead, but I totally disagree with Karl claiming that chip shots sit up after the bounce because they are also hit with backspin and can bounce low like a driving slice.
     
  22. GameTime

    GameTime New User

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    One instance when I hit a topspin approach shot is when my opponent hits me a ball that lands near the service line. I hit a sharp angle w/ topspin so the ball usually bounces away from them and I win the point right then and there or I am setup for a put away volley.
     
  23. Meat

    Meat Rookie

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    Chip shots, when in more technical terms (not chip and charge, or referring to general slices) are usually sort of dink slices. Short, and not much spin.

    So they generally sit up more. If you want more backspin and want to drive it low, that requires more racquet head speed when brushing under the ball. So technically, that's not a chip anymore.
     
  24. Rabbit

    Rabbit G.O.A.T.

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    I agree. While the differences are small, there is a difference between a chip and a slice. It is splitting hairs, but it is also true.

    Topspin approaches are fine if you think you think you have a chance to also win the point with the approach. A sliced approach is used to set up the next shot, a volley - hence the term approach. Sliced approaches are better because if they are hit correctly (sliced not chipped), then the ball is out of your opponent's comfort zone. This means that it is usually lower than he's used to. A great tactic for club players is to hit a sliced approach that lands around the service line. Not only is the ball lower, but it is shorter and causes your opponent to try and reach forward to return the ball. Remember, club players don't move like pros.

    Today's players use exaggerated grips which are not good for hitting slices of old. They also are not used to seeing a sliced approach, or balls that are out of their comfort zone. If you get a chance and can watch some seniors (35+) tournaments, especially those on clay, you'll see what I'm talking about. These guys play essentially what all club players should play. It is percentage, attacking tennis that uses strokes that are reliable. A sliced stroke has a greater margin for error than a topspin. Power at the pro level is great, but for club players, fewer errors is usually (90% of the time) what wins matches.
     
  25. Kaptain Karl

    Kaptain Karl Hall Of Fame

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    So true. You'll get to see real "artistry," point management, and gain a sense of strategy ... all at a speed our "mortal minds" can comprehend.

    - KK
     
  26. ohplease

    ohplease Professional

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    Exactly. Which is why I tend to think that approaching off something other than DTL (chip, slice, flat, top, what have you) is a great idea if the other guy can't consistently pass you on the move.

    It's sort of like your comment about people not understanding the transition game - I'd argue that people don't understand how important transition is in general - and not just in moving to the net. There's a virtual ETERNITY in between the ball leaving your racket and it coming back - yet people don't use that time to set themselves up in anticipation of what's likely to happen next.

    I run into one of those people, I come in on whatever, whenever. If I see they can hit consistently well on the move and take advantage of that time in between this stroke and the next one? Then dtl, and only off a quality shot.
     
  27. Kana Himezaki

    Kana Himezaki Semi-Pro

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    Good posts. ^^

    ohplease - usually, when you approach down the line, you're already causing the opponent to move. Most rallies go down the middle or crosscourt, usually crosscourt. Hitting down the line makes the person run for it, as doing it is always a change in direction.

    I'd think that your crosscourt approaches are making them run less, unless they just hit down the line to you. In that case, go to the open court, you don't even have to move up to the net. That won't happen often though.

    So hitting down the line should take care of making them hit on the run AND limiting angles.
     
  28. Rabbit

    Rabbit G.O.A.T.

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    Exactly. Tennis is a game not of inches, but of angles. The book Think to Win is a great introduction to this. In it, the author describes the perfect strategies for club tennis. He says that he hurt his playing hand and beat the club playing left handed by lobbing. Now, I hate lobs, but they are damned effective at the club level. Anything to keep the point going long enough for your opponent to make an error.

    But I digress. The reason you approach down the line is just as Kana said, to limit the angles. If you approach crosscourt, then your opponent not only has a wide area down the line, but a good sized area behind you on the crosscourt. A crosscourt pass doesn't have to be that good in this situation because the net player's momentum is naturally toward the down the line.
     
  29. ohplease

    ohplease Professional

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    Usually, that's true. However, I've run into plenty of savvy singles players that anticipate the down the line approach when they give their opponent's a short ball. They look for it in that situation, and if you give it to them they're good enough and quick enough to get there and pass or lob you. I fully agree that the angles work out better if you approach dtl. I disagree with the dogma that says you should do it all the time, or even most of the time - it totally depends on what your opponent can or cannot do.

    It's like saying you should usually serve down the center in doubles to keep your partner involved. That's true. But, if the returner is smart enough to realize you tend to do that, and can punish returns if they're sitting on it - why on earth would you stubbornly stick with conventional wisdom?
     
  30. Kana Himezaki

    Kana Himezaki Semi-Pro

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    You DO have to mix it up. But it's easier to do that with pace.

    If you set up the approach at all, the rally or whatever else usually has your opponent by the other corner. When you approach, it should ALWAYS be forcing a weaker return -or it's not an approach. Being able to predict that down the line shot shouldn't effect it too much -they're drawn off the court and you're giving them a hard ball to hit back. Even if they know it's coming, they still shouldn't be able to handle it.

    You can mix up that down the line approach with a deep slice, even a moonball, or just a hard shot in general. You usually want to go with spin (although a flat ball or drive is still great for producing a weak reply), as you want to give yourself time to move up.

    At times, you SHOULD send it crosscourt. But remember that you're probably going to be passed, and the shot better be good.

    It's reasonable to stick by "most of the time" on DTL approaches.
     
  31. NoBadMojo

    NoBadMojo G.O.A.T.

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    actually you dont want a ton of pace on approachs shots generally speaking....a heavily sliced low, skiding approach shot works well and travels slowly enough to buy you more time to be closer to the net where you can better cut off any angles your opponent may 'think' he/she has..that shot is traditionally down the line...or approaching up the center with a similar sliced backhand can be very effective as well because it takes away any real angles your opponent may have, and works well against someone with good passing shots. also there are cases where a topspin approach (like Rickson suggests?) to a one handers backhand makes alot of sense..that could be a nasty very looping topspin shot (either forehand or backhand) that lands deep in the court and is high bounding..those often produce very weak responses even from fairly advanced players, especially if they have a 1hbh, because even players w. good i handers dont like stuf like that, and the big loop gives you more time to be closer to the net
     
  32. ohplease

    ohplease Professional

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    And what happens if they can? If you're not running into players who punish you for being predictable - off any stroke - you're simply not playing good enough players.
     
  33. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    Rickson,

    I think NoBadMojo summed this up very well. I am in full agreement with this as I am sure you are by following this thread.

    There are times when you can hit a good topspin shot. But I am in agreement here that placement and hitting the ball in such a way that it gives you an easier way to cover the angles is smart tennis.

    I think we all agree the slice for the approach shot is a good choice and the topspin at times can be beneficial.

    It really goes back to what we were saying to do based on the ball type of ball you are receiving, where you are on the court, and how low/high in the strike zone you are hitting the ball from.
     
  34. theace21

    theace21 Hall of Fame

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    Old school players like myself - were always told not to hit topspin approach shots because the set up and gave your opponent a easier ball to try and pass you with. Today's young players are often taught a western grip and extreme top spin is the norm...and net play is a uncomfortable place...They look to hit approach shot as winners not setting up the next shot...
    The game has change
     

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