Why does no one topspin their volleys?

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by _craze, Feb 4, 2013.

  1. _craze

    _craze New User

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    Versus slicing - and I'm not talking about those swinging forehand volleys: I'm talking about a pickup motion over the net, with topspin and no slice.

    Is this supposed to be a low-percentage shot? Because it's my favorite way to volley, it's safe and just as penetrative, and I only slice when I'm sure that I can create a nice angle and win the point off of that shot.

    If there's something inherently disadvantageous in volleying this way, I'd like to know, since I never see anyone volley this way...other than in things like video games and sometimes when the pros are stabbing at the ball; upwards, though. Maybe I haven't seen too many matches with a lot of volleying.
     
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  2. Topspin Shot

    Topspin Shot Legend

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    Three reasons:
    1. Topspin can't be hit with a blocking motion. When you're on top of the net, there is no time for a full swing.
    2. To generate topspin, you have to have separate grips for the forehand and backhand. There isn't enough time to change grips at the net.
    3. When you're closer to the net, you have more margin for error (think court geometry). You don't need topspin to keep the ball in the court.
     
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  3. luvforty

    luvforty Banned

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    low ball fh volley, stretched out, many do topspin volley...... one of the signature shots from sampras.
     
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  4. _craze

    _craze New User

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    An appropriate user name for the response. lul

    But maybe I didn't explain it correctly. Maybe that's not even the name of the shot because I can't describe it perfectly.

    It's a volley and it's hit with topspin. It's hit in the traditional manner, so there's no full swing. You can hit topspin with any grip, and if you're good at it, you can hit a higher percentage shot than even a slice. I think margins still play a big role at the net, unless I just happen to suck, otherwise people would flatten-out all of their volleys.

    Think a blocked ball at the net, going forwards and with a fast, upwards motion. Mostly brushing.
     
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  5. _craze

    _craze New User

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    He doesn't count.:wink:

    I mean the modern game. Sorry: Should've clarified this all in the OP.
     
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  6. Topspin Shot

    Topspin Shot Legend

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    The backspin from volleys is not used for margin. If anything, it decreases margin. It is used for ball control. It is very hard to hit a ball perfectly flat, so it is better to hit with backspin, so you know how the ball will behave when it comes off your racket. Brushing sharply upward in an abbreviated motion with a continental grip is a recipe for disaster. If the ball is a sitter, this motion is possible, but on a sitter, why do you need topspin at all? If the ball is not a sitter, then you're trying to time a steep brush with a ball coming straight at you at high speeds. You will have no control of your shot at all.
     
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  7. _craze

    _craze New User

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    That's what I was thinking about the backspin, but isn't ball control used to increase the margin of error?

    If the incoming shot is hit a high speeds, all one really needs to do is abbreviate their motion and take some pace off of their shot.
     
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  8. Topspin Shot

    Topspin Shot Legend

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    Not necessarily. I could try to hit like Nadal, and I'd get a ton of topspin and margin for error. But, I would be pushing myself beyond my comfort zone and make a ton of errors from late preparation, shanks, etc. Here's the problem with abbreviating the motion and taking pace off the "topspin volley." You're hitting it with a continental grip. Is it possible to hit topspin with a continental grip? Yes. Is it efficient? No. So, if you don't put any oomph into the "topspin volley" that you're hitting with a continental grip, you're going to hit a weak shot that will be killed.

    Anyway, don't take my word for it. Take the word of every single pro and experienced player out there. Your proposal is intriguing. I'm sure it has been tried many times before. If it worked in match play, it would be used. It isn't used. It doesn't work.
     
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  9. _craze

    _craze New User

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    Good point. I always assume the shot itself and nothing about the player's personal quirks, when I'm talking about margins.

    Maybe it needs to be honed. I see people struggling against slice backhands more than topspin backhands, yet the latter is the more widely used. More often than not, shots like these are good for, at least, setting up a winner off the volley.

    But I'm going to come to the net much more tomorrow, using this style and seeing how effective it is at winning me points. With slicing, I just find that there's a lot more to judge, to balance placement and power. Even though it's "supposed" to allow more room for error, it really just widens the angle and decreases the margins, like you say.
     
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  10. TheCheese

    TheCheese Professional

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    Why would you ever want to topspin your volleys? It makes the ball bounce up high, making passing shots easier. If you slice it you can keep it low and get it to skid. Also gives you the option to drop shot.
     
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  11. luvforty

    luvforty Banned

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    forget about spin.

    FH volley is a push with an open face.

    most often you get underspin as a by product.

    sometimes you get topspin as a by product.
     
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  12. _craze

    _craze New User

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    It doesn't have to be massive topspin...just enough to clear the net. The trajectory is almost like that of a flat shot. Anything much more than that is a badly hit topspin shot, just like a poorly hit slice that barely goes past the service box.
     
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  13. Topspin Shot

    Topspin Shot Legend

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    If you're just going to clear the net, there's no point in topspin. Your ball will land in no matter what spin you put on it. For reasons I've already explained, you won't be able to hit a penetrating volley with this technique. You can try it, but you're wasting your time.
     
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  14. WildVolley

    WildVolley Legend

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    We need video. I really don't understand what you are doing?

    It is hard to put topspin by volleying a passing shot hit with topspin because you have to reverse the spin of the ball. How you are generating enough racket head speed to do this would be interesting to see.

    Hitting the ball flat or with slice is easier because you are adding to the spin rather than reversing it.
     
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  15. rkelley

    rkelley Hall of Fame

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    Ditto for most of the advice above.

    I think the biggest thing is that you want your volley to skid and stay low. Backspin will help with that. You want to force your opponent to hit up to you at the net. You don't want the ball to sit up.

    Also what would be the point? You're a couple of feet from the net. How much margin are you going to gain with topspin?

    Practically you will have a very hard time (like impossible) putting topspin on a ball that's ripped to you at the net. Sometimes you're happy just to get your racquet in front of it. A lot of volleying is about blocking and angles. You really have to have one grip for both fh and bh because of all of this. Continental is the best answer, and that that grip isn't great for topspin even if you had enough time to generate a swing upward, which you don't.
     
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  16. _craze

    _craze New User

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    I have years.

    My slice volley is ok, but I've found the other easier. It's been a while since I've hit it, but from what I remember, I could place the ball just as well as, if not better than my coach's slice volleys, and there isn't much of a loss of pace.

    It may just be me comparing myself to my own experiences, but the better volleyers here should be able to improve upon the shot.

    @WV: I can try, tomorrow, but don't expect studio quality.

    You sure you want to see some young punk hitting unconventional volleys?:wink:
     
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  17. _craze

    _craze New User

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    Again, it's been a while since I tried this. My responses would be more sure tomorrow, and I'm mostly going from the memory and perception:

    I'm not sure just "how" much margin would be gained, but you would gain more margin.

    Remember it's not a full swing. It's just as one would hit a traditional flat volley, but going upwards. From what I recall, it's very easy and allows you to make angles, just like a topspin groundstroke. You still must go out with it, though.

    Looks like it'll have to be something that I show on video - unless I can find a pro hitting this shot above the net, or like it in a video game, or something.
     
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  18. WildVolley

    WildVolley Legend

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    Sure. It would be interesting to see, and I don't really get what you're doing.

    I sometimes put topspin on blocked half-volleys, but the court has bounced the ball up into the racket so it is easy to guide it back up over the net. I can see putting a little topspin on high volleys without much difficulty, but I don't understand how you are taking lower balls and putting them back over the net with topspin.

    The main test is if something works. However, I'm still skeptical that you've made a break thru. Most of us won't develop a better way of doing something, but I'm willing to consider new technique.
     
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  19. _craze

    _craze New User

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    Well, here's a video of Sampras doing it:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N6E3vPigzxI

    I don't know if it was a half-volley or not, but if not, this is what it would look like. At least against a harder shot.
     
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  20. skiracer55

    skiracer55 Hall of Fame

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    Uh uh...

    ...the first ball he hits is a half-volley (ball hits the court and you finesse it back in the court), not a volley. The second shot is a classic volley, no topspin there.

    So if what you're doing is a half-volley, then fine...that's one more tool in the toolbox, and everybody who comes anywhere near the net needs a half-volley.

    The Williams sisters, among others, do use a swing volley when the ball is up high, and it's basically a topspin groundstroke in stroke path. Doesn't work for me, or most volleyers, but if that's what you're doing and it works, fine. I don't see how anybody can hit a true topspin volley against a low ball, so I'd like a video of what you're doing, too...
     
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  21. Cheetah

    Cheetah Hall of Fame

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    That first ball is a half-volley. I don't recall sampras ever hitting any topspin volleys.
     
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  22. TheCheese

    TheCheese Professional

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    If you've been talking about half-volleys this whole time then yes, it's common to hit topspin pickups on half-volleys.

    However, I've never seen a pro hit a topspin volley unless they were super stretched and reaching for the ball. It's just not an effective shot.
     
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  23. rkelley

    rkelley Hall of Fame

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    Sampras isn't hitting topspin in this video. His first volley is a half volley. You generally hit those by following the ball down and up with your racquet and keeping the racquet in front of you. It’s like an infielder in baseball catching a short hop ball. The ball that Sampras hit would likely have a small amount of backspin from the ball bouncing up into the racquet, not topspin. The second volley clearly doesn’t have topspin.

    Actually McEnroe used to have a bit of an upward motion on his racquet on low first volleys to his forehand side. He had that funky “racquet head below the handle” form and kind of pulled up on the racquet a bit at contact. But he’s McEnroe. Generally a player would get their body lower for that shot, the racquet would be more level, and there wouldn’t be upward motion.

    If you want to try some topspin on your volleys go for it. I just think you’ll have a hard time doing it and you’re missing the fundamental point of volleying, which is accessing sharp angles due to your proximity to the net. Keeping the motion simple, racquet in front, and using your opponent’s pace are keys in accessing those angles, especially when you’re trying to volley a rifled forehand.
     
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  24. _craze

    _craze New User

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    I didn't know the ball bounced because I couldn't track it in the video. If it did, that's not the shot I'm referring to.

    I recall McEnroe hitting some shots like what I'm talking about, yes, and with the right technique, it's possible like everything else. I've hit them before, and used to hit them more before I began slicing.

    Topspin allows for almost as much angle as slice; why do you think you can't control the ball with a topspin volley?
     
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  25. TennisCJC

    TennisCJC Legend

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    knock yourself out if you want to hit topspin volleys. My opinion is it is a waste of time. Volleys are hit with a conti grip which is not conducive to top - yes, it can be done but not best fit. Also, you don't have much time at net and I think a bit of underspin with a conti grip is a quicker more compact stroke.

    My opinion is the only time to even consider top on a volley is for a mid-court high swinging volley but I personally don't even use this shot as I prefer to hit traditional volleys.

    But, to each their own. Try it you might like it but not for me.
     
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  26. rkelley

    rkelley Hall of Fame

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    I can't pull the racquet up in the couple of hundred milliseconds that I have to hit the ball, plus I want my volley to skid and bounce low, not sit up.
     
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  27. TennisCJC

    TennisCJC Legend

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    yea, this is logical. I think most hit volleys with a slightly open racket face and maybe a slight downward motion for underspin. This fits well with a conti grip. For topspin equivalent, you would have to use a slightly closed racket face and slightly upward motion for topspin. Seems like it would be too risky as open face helps lift ball over net while close face would push ball down toward net. Also, some volleys are just reflexes and you want the racket open for lift and underspin. I can not realistically see hitting a topspin reflex volley. Finally, having to sort out which type of volley do I want to hit - top or under - at the net seems overwhelming since you basically don't have any time to think in most cases.

    And, as you mentioned, I would rather have a low skidding bounce rather than a higher topspin bounce on my volley.
     
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  28. USS Tang

    USS Tang Rookie

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    I hit my volleys on both sides with one hand and with a continental grip. There is, however, a way to hit a forehand volley with topspin but it is unorthodox. It involves using a two-hand forehand. If you're right-handed, the left hand goes above the right-hand. At the point of impact with the ball, roll your wrists slightly forward (left supinating, right pronating). You'll get some small degree of topspin on the volley, but it's only effective if you're angling it wide to the left, i.e., your opponent's right side. All in all, it's probably not worth the trouble to learn.
     
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  29. BevelDevil

    BevelDevil Hall of Fame

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    Sampras did it a lot, and not just on half-volleys. I think he mainly did it on balls below the net.
     
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  30. Cheetah

    Cheetah Hall of Fame

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    #30
  31. Raul_SJ

    Raul_SJ Professional

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    I don't see how its possible and would like to see a Sampras video of it.

    The coaches say to lead with the bottom edge of racquet and volley with underspin.

    Topspin volley? On a LOW ball? Will need to see it to believe it.
     
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  32. dominikk1985

    dominikk1985 Legend

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    well you are most likely not facing 70+ mph passing shots like the pros do. reaction time is a big issue and even if you have no real take back you still at least have to get the racket to your side and then reverse the direction.

    A normal volley basically can be punched directly from the chest with no reverse in direction. It is just a shorter swing. in Baseball you also want to Keep the swing compact and swing directly to the ball because the time is so short.
     
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  33. boramiNYC

    boramiNYC Hall of Fame

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    it's possible for an emergency measure when really stretched out but it's pretty rare and shouldn't be any part of regular volleys.

    way too much key strokes are being wasted on such silly idea.
     
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  34. dominikk1985

    dominikk1985 Legend

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    #34
  35. Cheetah

    Cheetah Hall of Fame

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    looks like a regular volley to me. pace pushes the head back.
     
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  36. _craze

    _craze New User

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    A bit more like it. I don't know what you mean by "regular volley" Cheetah, since the only difference between a topspin and slice volley is the direction of your racquet frame.

    I'm scheduled to hit tonight, so I'm just hoping I'll have as much success with the shot as I used to, but if I'm not on and can't show it in video, I'll just have to find some other way to describe it.

    If I can't explain it any better, the swing path is essentially that of a half-volley, but it's an actual volley, and there's maybe a little more topspin described.

    Iirc, the topspin volley is also in the game "TopSpin".
     
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  37. Cheetah

    Cheetah Hall of Fame

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    regular as in the type of volley that everyone is taught, uses and practices for over 100 years and can see in any volley video or article.

    why would anyone want a volley to sit up and go at a slower pace? you're at the net. there's no reason to give it top to go over the net. you have angles. topspin volley from a low ball is very low percentage with a continental. I don't think there's a coach that would allow such a thing.
     
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  38. THE FIGHTER

    THE FIGHTER Hall of Fame

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    technically, not true. without changing grips, a semi western forehand = semi western backhand.

    it isn't ideal on a volley, but it can be done. also, dimitrov hits with a continental hybrid backhand for his top spin drives. gasquet hits with a continental forehand for his top spin drives. again, it may not be ideal for volleying, but it can be done.

    i also disagree with your first reason, if you have time to put underspin/ backspin on a ball, you have time to put some top spin on a ball. not a full stroke, obviously, but as much as you would with underspin. however, Top spin isn't very ideal at all for volleys, i agree with that.

    you could have said that the ball sits up with top spin, and the whole reason your up at net is to take time away from the opponent.
     
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  39. Timbo's hopeless slice

    Timbo's hopeless slice Hall of Fame

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    I just have trouble understanding why anyone would want to hit a topspin volley?

    lets slow the ball down and make it bounce higher! not

    I can see how it might be possible at really low levels when the ball is coming a bit slower and with less topspin of its own, but I still have no idea why you would want to do it in the first place!

    or, you are the next ATP number one with reflexes that put even Sampras to shame.
    (only way you are going to take a swing at a passing shot at anything over 4.5 or so..)
     
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  40. _craze

    _craze New User

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    I don't swing at my volleys.
     
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  41. jakeytennis

    jakeytennis Rookie

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    i have seen this done. they were some what effective but inconsistant
     
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  42. Timbo's hopeless slice

    Timbo's hopeless slice Hall of Fame

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    then you either have the best hands in the history of tennis or you play at a very low level.

    It is just not possible to hit a topspin volley off a powerful groundstroke.

    This is why nobody does it at any kind of level of skill.

    Your Sampras example does not hold water at all, those are half volleys, totally different shot.

    Sure, it can be done off a powder puff ball that not only give you time but doesn't really impact your racquet with any weight, but a genuine, solid drive?

    no way. (again, this is why nobody does it.)

    Watch Pat rafter volley. He was probably the last top player whol lived and died by his volleys.

    then think about it...

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tN6iDbtJxs8 (turn down the sound, it's hideous)
     
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  43. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    While I'd jump onto the bandwagon for sliced volleys on all fly balls, I do know one 4.5 level doubles player with a strong W grip using the same face for his volleys, hitting top/sidespin on even low shin high volleys. On half volleys, he definetely uses topspin.
    I also know one former 5.0 player who consistently hits half volleys on both sides with heavy topspin, but he uses a continental grip. He's tall and strong of foreams and shoulder also. His normal volleys from shoetop on up are hit with penetrating slice.
    I think, if you have weirdo grips, you need to make that grip work for you, even if it takes superior shoulder/arm muscle and superior eyesight.
     
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  44. _craze

    _craze New User

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    No, I didn't record myself, but I assure you all I was successful. I only had one person to hit with, so...maybe next time.

    But I was successful. I only FE'd once (by framing, as you said), and idr any UEs. I hit from below the net and above. I wear glasses but *don't* play with them.

    And I didn't miss any slices either. It was better than I thought.

    Let me tell you guys the difference because I was hitting both nearly perfectly and asking my coach to pass me as hard as he could.

    He's a 5.0.

    Topspin: Basically a brushing motion upwards, and very fast. Faster brush than a slice, and barely touch the ball. Cross court is near irretrievable - as fast as a CC drive, but faster. Bounces out but not up, since you aren't hitting looping topspin. I barely had to worry about meeting the ball in the sweet-spot. No lie - try it.

    BH: I used my continental grip, with A++ results.
    FH: I used my EE grip, sometimes SW even, unless I had to switch from the backhand. I'm very good at slicing with the SW grip, btw. But I'll say the topspin volleys allow for more margin and pace.

    Yes, talk is cheap. But you at least try the shot. Maybe my hands are good but I play with 20/100 vision. I hate glasses. And I one all but two net points out of 10+. I'll try harder at being prepared next time, but really, it's not traditional and it's much more effective.
     
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  45. _craze

    _craze New User

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    Have you even tried it? You can't comprehend what you don't try to learn; and a half-volley is almost the same thing as a volley, only it's hit right after the bounce.

    If you can't hit the shot, all it means is you can't hit the shot. A skilled player can reliably hit any shot, and as I was just successful, I can yell you've never hit a topspin volley or you haven't done so without failing it. Give it a try.
     
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  46. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Could you tell us your level of play?
    At my courts, everyone hits directly into the body of a netperson who switches grips from forehand to backhand volleys. Around 4.0, a little lower because I"m there.
    At 4.5, you'd have no time to switch grips, if you stood inside your service line. The ball comes too fast.
    I suspect your "coach" is hitting easy balls to your left and right.
    My background. Now I"m a bad 3.5 singles player. Back in the '70's, I was going 2-4 rounds in NorCal A/Open and have won 4 Q rounds for the TransAmerica....in two different years. Mostly S/V.
     
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  47. _craze

    _craze New User

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    You realize net points can take more than two shots, right?

    4.5 is my level. I need my wrist to heal, so I cam serve like I used to...probably too late for that. And my fitness sucks: I rarely eat. And if a ball is hit straight at me, I'l topspin it back with my backhand grip. This happened tonight. The shot is much, *much* better for service line volleys. Not even half-volleys.

    He took it easy on me, first, but when I asked him to and he tokk it up 5 notches, most of my volleys were unreturnable. I remember that feeling and it's good to feel it again.
     
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  48. Timbo's hopeless slice

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    but why????

    I have a top 200 national open singles ranking at the age of 46, I have been playing tennis for almost 40 years, and I have never had a problem with my volleys.

    because I do them properly!

    why on earth would I want to try something like this? The last thing I wish to impart to my volleys is topspin!!!

    Sure, I can take a swinging waist height volley at the service line and give it topspin, but the sad reality is I don't get too many like that coming my way.

    even if I did I would be more inclined to drive it low into teh space with as much slice as I could get on it.

    Like everyone else, I'd like to see this, because I find it hard to even visualise.

    no offence, but it just doesn't ring true.
     
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  49. _craze

    _craze New User

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    So you can see my point of view, and realize it's just as useful. I was a bit dubious as I went out because the high bouncing of the ball was a good point.

    But that wasn't there. The shot FAR exceeded my expectations. I won almost *all* of my netpoints on the first shot.


    A swinging volley is usually slower than a regular volley, and imo, it's less cool to see. I don't hit it, usually.


    It's possible to get to slice volleys, even more. A properly hit topspin volley will kick out and away from the opponent, like a...well, the serve.

    The only other possibility is I'm trolling you, which, I assure you, I've no reason to do. I'm just saying, this is a master shot; and it would behoove you to at least try to get what I'm saying, first hand. Like I said, just abbreviatedly brush up your volley, but keep it just over the cord and barely touch the ball. You can't fail.

    And sorry that I can't show you, or otherwise I couldn't have even gotten a chance to hit the shot. You can always play TopSpin: B is the topspin button at the net.
     
    #49
  50. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2006
    Messages:
    15,093
    Let me introduce another idea that I don't think anyone has raised yet.

    An additional reason not to hit topspin volleys is you will get butchered once you need to start trying to hit approach volleys (as in S&V). With an approach volley, you are deeper in the court and you are trying to get your ball deep, keep it low over the net and keep it from bouncing up.

    How are you going to do that with a topspin volley stroke that needs to start *below* the ball to generate topspin? The opponent has put the ball at your feet in no man's land. Methinks you will crack a lot of rackets trying to get under such a ball.

    Not to mention how I, as your partner, will wring your neck for hitting such horrid volleys. 'Cause you will either be keeping your topspin volley low over the net (with the topspin bringing it down and short), or you will be getting more net clearance so that the opposing net player busts me in my forehead with the ball.

    I don't think we would do very well as partners if you are going to hit that shot! :)
     
    #50

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