We can and should be attacking the net a LOT more as rec players

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by Power Player, Mar 3, 2014.

  1. Power Player

    Power Player G.O.A.T.

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    There was a really great post recently about tips on the serve and volley somewhere and I can not find it. Regardless, I loved it and there was a key part that stuck out - "attack the net, commit to getting to the net regardless if you get passed or not".

    The more I play 4.0s to 5.0s, the more I see that standing back and baselining is why I lose some matches. And it is not because I get outhit, but more so because I choose to stay back and not attack the net as much as possible. As a result, the opportunity for UE's piles up and attackable balls extend the point for the opponent instead of ending it for me.

    So I went out yesterday and played and practiced with a more advanced pusher type - a guy who hits deep loopers and gets everything back. His backhand is a weakness. I decided that I would attack the net as much as possible. It was a very simple strategy - hit i/o forehands to his backhand, deep and to the corner with a lot of pace and spin. I would run back a little when I saw the high, deep ball coming, and get off the ground and pound the ball into the corner.

    As soon as I hit that shot I would come to net. My position was near the top of the service box on the deuce side to cover the line. What I noticed was this - just the mere act of me coming to the net caused multiple UE's. I barely had to do anything except come to net. Short balls came right to me, and I was able to put them away with a half volley to the open court. Or he would hit a DTL backhand winner. This was rare. Maybe he hit 2 of those the whole time.

    Afterwards, he said that just seeing me come to net put a lot of pressure on him and he realized his next shot was going to have to be perfect or he would lose the point.

    I think attacking the net is still the best way to win at rec tennis. This is not the ATP tour, and frankly you are not going to face many players who can bend the ball down to your feet and hit screaming winners part you. Add to the fact that I just watched Federer win an ATP 500 event utilizing S&V tactics, and I think it is safe to say that the net game will always have a place in tennis.

    All that aside, the reality is that I am not very good at net yet. I have been a baseliner my while life and grew up watching Agassi play, and copying him. So I still struggle with a few things.

    The main is aligning the racquet face properly, especially on the forehand side. For some reason I am able to volley rather well utilizing a conti grip on my backhand side, but on my forehand side it feels awkward and I tend to sky the ball into the fence at times. So I HAVE to fix that issue, and am open to any advice there.

    As for this strategy summarized - think about how many people post about pushers here, and how many times you have lost to someone with lesser strokes who waited on you to give away the match and just got everything back. Why did you sit back and allow this to happen? They have lesser strokes - EXPOSE THAT. Get to the net and make them hit real shots that are past their ability. Don't sit back and baseline them all day when the reality is that they can and will get everything back until you dump one or hit long trying to get too aggressive.
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2014
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  2. Topspin Shot

    Topspin Shot Legend

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    I agree that some players should attack the net more than they do. I don't think it's a panacea though, and I don't think it will work for all players.
     
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  3. maggmaster

    maggmaster Hall of Fame

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    I play a very attacking game. My coach told me that I can't outhit guys who played as juniors extensively from the baseline but I can out opportunity them. I serve and volley, I chip and charge every know and then and I am always looking for a ball that I can chip down the line and approach off of. It works for me, it changes the game from a tennis game to an athletic competition and I can win that more easily.
     
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  4. Power Player

    Power Player G.O.A.T.

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    I agree totally there. I do think this is a key part in beating players you should be beating as well.

    Any advice on the forehand volley?
     
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  5. maggmaster

    maggmaster Hall of Fame

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    Turn your shoulders, get into the hitting position and drive through it with your legs. The high forehand volley looks so easy but it is so easy to dump it in the net. The lower one you have to open the racket face a bit and get down, bend your knees and get the ball to eye level.
     
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  6. TennisCJC

    TennisCJC Legend

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    If you can develop a net game that is competitive with your level of play - say you are a 4.5 player and have legitimate 4.5 approach/volley/overhead skills; then attacking the net pays big dividends in my opinion. If you are 3.5 playing a 4.5 then you serve and approach shots are not going to apply enough pressure to make it beneficial.

    If you come in on a decent shot, most players do not respond well to net pressure and their UE rate goes up. It goes up even more if you knock off a few volleys because then they are thinking I have to do something special because this guy can volley.

    Also, when you play a good attacking player, it is a big advantage to come in before he does so he has to deal with hitting passing shots instead of you.
     
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  7. Ballinbob

    Ballinbob Hall of Fame

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    Biggest thing that helped me was to make sure I'm catching it out in front, though you probably knew that.

    Now my turn to ask... How has the IO forehand approach been working for you against 4.5 players? I love approaching the net, I just never get the chance to do it because everyone hits deep. This seems like a good option though. I don't like approaching cross court but as you said not many rec players will pass me DTL with their backhands
     
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  8. Topspin Shot

    Topspin Shot Legend

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    Approaching inside out works for me, as long as my opponent doesn't have a good down the line backhand.
     
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  9. Power Player

    Power Player G.O.A.T.

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    Great thanks. My problem is that I tend to sky the ball. I mean literally I am hitting the back fence with no bounce.

    I pretty much agree with all of this.

    Yes, but I have a very well developed i/o forehand that I have been using since I was a kid. It is probably my best shot.

    That being said you can attack in many ways. Slices down the line can be excellent shots to rush the net behind.

    Also, like you said - approaching cross court is not as conventional, but that is part of the beauty - it really takes the opponent by surprise and they basically have to hit a DTL backhand - which is a low % shot unless they have developed strokes.
     
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  10. mikeler

    mikeler G.O.A.T.

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    The red part was his problem. He did not need to be perfect especially considering that you admit volleying is not a strength of yours.

    I used to be terrible at hitting passing shots until I regularly played a serve and volleyer/chip and charger. The first few matches I would panic and think I had to hit a screaming passing shot or lose the point.

    Then I figured out passing might be a 3 shot process with the first shot forcing the net player to hit up, the next shot would be more aggressive going for an outright pass. If the net player does get it with a stab, then he has probably opened up the court for an easy pass on the 3rd ball unless he is really good at crazy stab drop volleys.

    There are a few guys I play that are content to grind. Those are the ones I can attack at net. The other guys just hit the ball so hard that the only percentage play is to get them stretched out and hitting a slice that I can sneak in and volley.
     
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  11. maggmaster

    maggmaster Hall of Fame

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    The saddest that I ever feel on a tennis court is when I get passed by a slow moving ball that there is absolutely no way for me to reach. Stab out to the forehand side and then the next shot floats by me on the backhand...
     
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  12. Velvet Ga el

    Velvet Ga el Rookie

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    [​IMG]

    I can't like your post any more than I do. I had brutal groundstrokes at 3.5. Hell, had you looked at my backhand alone, you would have thought I was a 3.0. But I went undefeated and lost one set the entire year precisely because of the ethos in your post.

    Every match, I took the first two games to decide if my groundstrokes were better than the other guy's and if I could consistently get to his weaker side. If I wasn't better from the baseline or couldn't get to his weaker side, I exclusively served and volleyed, and on my return games, I did whatever I could to run around balls and hit them to his bad side, at which point in time I'd come in just as you described.

    I still use this basic strategy, although much more judiciously now, as a 4.5. The moment I stretch a guy out during a rally, I'll come to the net. Want to block back my serve? I'm coming to the net. Want to take my serve deep behind the baseline? I'm coming to the net. Like to slice your backhand often? I'm coming to the net.

    Frankly, my groundstrokes suck compared to my peers, and so I have to cover that by being more aggressive in my court position. I don't win nearly as much as I did with this strategy as a 3.5 and 4.0, but I've beat some guys with much better strokes simply by shifting the pressure to them.

    Regarding the volley, and assuming you're in a true continental, I'd almost bet you're taking it late. If there's a clock on the ground with your feet in the middle and the 12 o'clock mark directly at your navel, you want to make contact somewhere in the 2 o'clock range. To go cross court or DTL, you just reorient the clock with your feet. But the contact should always be slightly out in front of your body.

    My forehand volley occasionally goes off the tracks. When it does, the two issues for me are my grip (I tend to drift to an eastern backhand grip with the heel pad) and taking the ball late. And like you, while I don't hit the back fence, I do hit a bunch of volleys long.
     
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  13. MeMyselfandI

    MeMyselfandI Guest

    Good thread.

    At rec level you can assume the movement is weaker and therefore attacking the net is a good strategy.

    At higher levels, I dont like it unless you are very good at the net as it is so easy for guys nowadays to rip dipping topspin passes at your feet.

    If you see the pros when they get a short low ball that the cant thump for a winner, it is actually a hinderance as they are forced into the net and know they will give the opponent a pass attempt which is nearly always made.
     
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  14. Power Player

    Power Player G.O.A.T.

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    Yep, that all makes sense to me Mikeler. Any idea why my forehand volley is so inconsistent? Or maybe more, why does it feel so unnatural to volley in the conti grip on my forehand side?
     
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  15. Power Player

    Power Player G.O.A.T.

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    This thread is only about rec play. Read the title again.
     
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  16. boramiNYC

    boramiNYC Hall of Fame

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    Hard to say but often hit out in front is over emphasized on fh volley. This places the arm in a not so stable position in its range of motion when the torso is turned toward sideway. Do you tend to try to volley out in front all the time?
     
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  17. Power Player

    Power Player G.O.A.T.

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    Velvet, you are most likely correct. I may be taking the ball late.
     
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  18. MeMyselfandI

    MeMyselfandI Guest

    A good way to improve your feel and control with conti grip on volley is to play in service boxes half court with a partner and only hit slices or half volleys on both sides.

    A lot of beginners hit a forehand volley like a groundstroke and dont understand to swing at the ball and finish underneath it rather than over the top.
     
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  19. Power Player

    Power Player G.O.A.T.

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    Yes I do. I struggle more with balls that are slower and I need to half volley. The balls that are coming at me in faster volley exchanges, I am usually fine with on either side.

    I think I just need to volley more and maybe dedicate a lesson to just Volleys.
     
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  20. boramiNYC

    boramiNYC Hall of Fame

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    Yep I think you need to reexamine the fh volley sweetspot when your torso is facing forward and when it's facing sideway like when you have to reach out to the side to volley. When reaching to the side your sweetspot is not in front toward the opponent but in front of your right shoulder. So the contact point would be more retracted.
     
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  21. Power Player

    Power Player G.O.A.T.

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    Ok that makes sense.

    To be more specific on my issue, I have trouble taking higher balls out of the air on my forehand. Basically easy balls that are half volleys just feel awkward to put away cleanly.

    The more direct shot coming right at me with pace - I am getting much better at those and don't have too many issues there besides further practice.
     
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  22. Topspin Shot

    Topspin Shot Legend

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    Do you maintain the hitting structure all the way through contact and beyond? And do you know that except on volleys above eye level, you want to make contact before your front foot touches down? You might know these things already, but I'm just curious.
     
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  23. Power Player

    Power Player G.O.A.T.

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    Ill have to think about that and see next time I am out. But the high volleys are more my issues than the regular ones.
     
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  24. Velvet Ga el

    Velvet Ga el Rookie

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    See if you can get a video camera from a side angle on these matches, similar to the camera angle at the 7:38 mark of this video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KKC_Y26eleo&list=UUEUqaopy-duP0LD8PATxxCg&feature=c4-overview). That should be great help in seeing what you're doing.

    Also, regarding my clock analogy and the discussion about being too far out in front, make sure you understand that the face of the clock moves with your feet and hips. If you look at the shot of Mike Bryan at 7:38, you'll see that he takes the volley at around 2 o'clock relative to his torso angle, which has turned from the net.

    I think sometimes when people are told to take the volley "out front of their body," they quit turning the hips and shoulders and instead extend the right arm with no body turn, which absolutely places the right arm in a weak position. But if your hips and shoulders turn somewhat towards the right net post, as they should, the strongest position for your arm is at 2 o'clock relative to your torso; too much towards 3 o'clock and you're basically arming the ball from the shoulder, too much towards 12 o'clock and you're getting a glancing blow on the ball.

    You can take a look at this video as well for some help (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jrKpANkUmcM). If you put an arrow through Mike's chest, you'll see him make contact with the ball around 2 o'clock relative to his chest for nearly every volley.
     
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  25. boramiNYC

    boramiNYC Hall of Fame

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    Try this. Start like you're about to hi five and keep the torso facing forward while you pull across and down across the chest/shoulder. It's a truncated open stance high contact point forehand. No low to high topspin at all for these. Instead high to low topspin.
     
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  26. Power Player

    Power Player G.O.A.T.

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    ^^^

    Thats really simple advice from the last 2 posts and I believe I can apply that rather fast. Thanks.
     
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  27. Maximagq

    Maximagq Banned

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    Attacking and putting the pressure on is good. Federer did it well in Dubai and starting pressuring Djokovic and Berdych to miss.
     
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  28. PhrygianDominant

    PhrygianDominant Hall of Fame

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    I think you really do have to come to net in rec play. Coming forward turns percentage tennis into winning tennis. At the rec level, nobody is going to have an advantage from behind the baseline based on their groundstrokes alone if you have even average volleys...

    I used to come in too much. The biggest thing is learning what to come in on. I used to charge in on bad balls all the time, and it's been a long hard road learning what a good approach shot is. I guess me and Federer have that in common :lol:

    PP
    I am the opposite of you, I have a solid continental forehand volley but my backhand volley breaks down a lot. Probably because my backhand slice is not good, I lack the feel for the grip on that side.
     
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  29. GuyClinch

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    I don't agree. It really depends on the individual player. Lots of players don't have the skill set to go to the net and are costing themselves points.

    At the lower levels its amazingly easy to lob people - and at the higher levels players can rip extraordinary passing shots. Depending on your skill set and build it can work for you..

    But its not going to work for a lot of players. Plenty of say 45 year old female players would go from winning matches to not winning a single point if they implemented this strategy. Its not just the pros who fall victim to baseline bashers. The lob is the easiest shot to hit in tennis. Making this a good shot for the opposition is not going to be a winning strategy against a lot of players. I say this since no joke - one in 50 women can drop step and smack a decent overhead.
     
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  30. mikeler

    mikeler G.O.A.T.

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    My simple tip is what I'll call "The StompĀ®". When you hit the volley, take a big stomp forward with your left leg. It might be that you are not getting weight into your shot and this temporary exaggeration will get you focused on that. This is really important with the floating volleys where you don't have much pace to work with and need your body weight to put pace on the volley especially the high ones.
     
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  31. Power Player

    Power Player G.O.A.T.

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    The lob is not that easy. You have to be able to hit it deep enough or it's a easy overhead smash.

    Now like you are saying, some people can not hit an overhead smash. That is why I tried to focus my original post on 4.0-.50 level tennis. If you can not hit an overhead smash at that level than you are probably not at that level and need to practice.

    As for the women's game, I can not comment on that as I have no perspective on what 4.0 plus women can do. But I have seen a few at my club who can hit overheads rather well.

    Very cool. I will incorporate this concept. Feel free to start a thread on The Stomp and take any posts from this thread to bump it when needed.
     
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  32. JackB1

    JackB1 G.O.A.T.

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    It just takes reps. Most people never get enough reps in on volleys. If you have a ball machine, go out and practice volleys with it. And WATCH THE BALL all the way into contact. Hitting dead center is key to volleys going where u want them to.

    As far as the conti grip feeling awkward, that feeling will go away with reps.
     
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  33. HunterST

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    So, PP, is your strategy basically to come to net when you hit a good shot that you know will put pressure on your opponent?

    I don't really like being at the net in singles, but I know sometimes I miss opportunities by not moving in.
     
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  34. Power Player

    Power Player G.O.A.T.

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    Yes. I get to the net as soon as possible in the point. Basically I run to the side my opponent is on and am a little inside the service box. This makes lobbing me more difficult.
     
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  35. President

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    I think every rec player under the age of 40 has the same problem as you, OP, on the forehand volley. Probably because we all use SW or Western Grips on the forehand, whereas we are accustomed to using the continental grip backhand slice on the backhand pretty often, even if we use a 2HBH. We basically just need to get more comfortable with the conti grip on the forehand. It's just a lack of feel IMO, and more reps will quickly correct the problem.
     
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  36. syc23

    syc23 Professional

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    Great in theory however against someone with a great down the line backhand and lob, you'll be made to look like a right fool.
     
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  37. maggmaster

    maggmaster Hall of Fame

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    If you are getting lobbed on the approach your approach is not good enough.
     
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  38. Bartelby

    Bartelby G.O.A.T.

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    Yes, people who are not good enough at passing shots are very good at simple lobs and making you run back for the ball.

    Net play is for those with great net skills, which seem to be hard to acquire and even harder to practise.



     
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  39. TennisCJC

    TennisCJC Legend

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    Yea, but if you play guys under 35 years old, they are not used to seeing people come in a lot. I have not played singles ultimate tennis league in 1.5 years but played a lot of young guys in 4.0, 4.25, and 4.5 before then. There were very few players that came in unless they were forced in by a very short ball. Easily 90% did not play tennis where they looked to attack the net as part of the game plan. So, they probably do get the feeling that they have to hit a perfect shot when someone comes in because they simply don't see it much.

    You are correct though. Hit one dipper that makes the net guy volley up and you have swung the odds to neutral or better in your favor.
     
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  40. Power Player

    Power Player G.O.A.T.

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    Once again, i am talking 4.0-5.0 level of play. I dont see many solid dtl backhands until 4.5 and even then the point is to hit a ball that makes them have to lunge into a corner. Im not saying you should attack the net behind a rally ball. Instead i am saying to develop approach shots that you can follow to net, and also serve and volley as long as your serve is strong enough.
     
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  41. watungga

    watungga Semi-Pro

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    Since I have brought back my skills in overhead smash, I was like I need to do it more often and have the whole club watch in awe. Best I can do, is go to the net and make some drop volleys. :)
     
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  42. GuyClinch

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    What shot is easier then a lob? A wicked topspin lob might be hard but a generic lob to the backhand is child's play.

    I think you are looking at it all wrong - and so are many teaching pros who preach this. I have heard that something like 85% of points are won/lost on mistakes - rather then winners.

    Once you get that you understand that the key for an awful lot of players - even pros - is to hit easier shot. If you are making the safe shot and they are making the difficult ones - you are going to win. That's whether your are forcing a guy out wide or hitting lobs to his backhand.

    So ask yourself for how many people is hitting a 'good' approach and an overhead easier then hitting a deep rally ball back cross court? How many people can hit good half volley's compared to how many 3.5's can hit a decent forehand?

    I think the real answer is very low. I actually like coming to the net. Doubles is my favorite. But let's keep it real..

    The guys who have the tactical option of going to the net (aka they have an excellent net game) all KNOW they have an excellent net game.

    There isn't this group of players sitting around who could be dominating at the net but are not because they aren't doing it. Even if they do have the build for it - lets say they are built like Del Potro.. They are still going to have to practice those rarely hit shots.

    There are athletic guys who are tall and have all the strokes - and they absolutely can make it work. But the guys who stay back - its not stupidity. It's often the smart play with their skill set. Remember we know the pros don't come in - and we know low level players don't have the shots. So that leaves a small window of guys who can come in and do well - and of THOSE guys you need the right build and the right amount of athleticism..

    Good luck to the guys that do it - but most players would be a lot more successful copying old Agassi rather then young Sampras. Agassi's tactics of hitting all his serves out wide and then hitting to the open court is the go to strategy for most rec players.. Old Agassi played some pretty boring tennis - but you can't argue with the results..
     
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  43. Power Player

    Power Player G.O.A.T.

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    Thats cool that you have thought it out, but I have been applying this on the court and it works. Especially against players who lack the firepower to pass consistently.

    Serve and Volley is still a highly effective strategy in rec tennis as is getting to net. If you choose to believe you will get lobbed and passed every time, that is up to you. I find that a good attacking shot hit into the corner followed by a net rush is highly effective, and apparently so do other posters in this thread as well.
     
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  44. bt johnson

    bt johnson Rookie

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    Volleys are easy but you need to know what part of your body you volley with.... your legs. For the forehand volley your left foot should cross over your right foot, move through the ball, keep your eyes on your contact point, a natural forehand volley that was hit high should be angled downwards and CC.

    If you try and keep your head near the head of your racquet you will naturally move through the ball
     
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  45. mawashi

    mawashi Hall of Fame

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    PP I agree however, I really suck at the net and I tend to lose confidence there.

    I'm most comfortable at the baseline and hitting targets.

    More often then not I'm successful at passing and unless facing an opponent >4.5 I'm usually good enough to get by.

    How do I improve my net game?
     
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  46. Avles

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    Just curious PP, how tall are you? I'm wondering if the "get to net ASAP" approach might work better for a taller player.
     
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  47. Power Player

    Power Player G.O.A.T.

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    Good stuff, thanks for that, especially on the feet.
    Just like me. You just have to commit to it. Maybe take a lesson that just focuses on volleying. I can hit through a lot of guys too, but what about the days that you are fatigued or dont have the focus to grind? That is why attacking the net is so good - it gives you an advantage to be up there as long as you are not crashing behind a sitter or rally ball.


    I'm not tall at all. I don't think it makes a huge difference. Remember, the main reason to do this is when you are playing someone who is consistent but you believe is safely using your pace to get the ball back over. You want to force them to hit winners. That is the key there. How many rec players will hit 60% winners to errors? Not many.
     
    #47
  48. bt johnson

    bt johnson Rookie

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    Height is not that important. I have a bungee cord that I attach to the bottom of the net and around the waist of my students. I then have them back up to the service line. The bungee cord will pull you through the ball and it's a "lightbulb" moment for everyone.
     
    #48
  49. TimothyO

    TimothyO Hall of Fame

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    I don't know if it's the best way but I fully agree with your sentiment that this is not the ATP tour and our environment is completely different as rec players.

    At our level we don't face the precision and pace of passing shots when coming to net that ATP players face. Therefore it makes sense that opposing players on the baseline are more likely to flub a passing shot or cough up something with so little pace it's an easy volley/put away for the net player.

    And there's the rub.

    We rec players spend so little time at net our volley skills aren't that good most of the time. And male rec players tend to get huge eyes at a floater when at net and either over-hit long or put it in the net with great regularity. Effective net play demands an interesting combination of intense focus and controlled aggression, seeming contradictions which can be tough for rec players mentally and emotionally.

    So if one is disciplined at net, hits only the shot that needs to be hit to finish the point, and spends some time practicing that shot, then yes, given the shots we face, we rec players should come to the net more. Most rec baseline players lack the skills need to hit passing shots with pace and precision and their lobs tend to be erratic. There are indeed some free points at net for rec players.
     
    #49
  50. BorderLine

    BorderLine Rookie

    Joined:
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    Amen to going to the net and creating pressure. It works and is a great part of the sport. I don't understand why net play isn't more popular in amateur singles. It would be great to build some sample stats.
     
    #50

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