approach shot placement

#1
As a baseliner, a while ago i made the decision to rush the net more. Play serve and volley regularly and just approach the net during rallies. This to take more control of the points and practice my volley's (my volley technique is fine, but because i so rarely go to the net I'm not comfortable there and often miss easy volley's). It's like i'm playing a different game now. I get in all kinds of different situations. A lot of fun i must say and i think it makes me a better player.

An interesting thing i found out about the placement of the approach and i was wondering if other people have experienced the same. To me it seems that the best placement is in the middle between the sideline and the center mark (right or left doesn't matter). If i have enough time to get to the net and position myself just right or left (depends what side of the court i hit my approach) of the center serviceline I almost never get passed. My approach doesn't even have to be that fast as long as it has reasonable depth. Also hitting it cross court or down the line doesn't matter as long as you're able to get in position in time.

A DTL passing shot will be very difficult since the opponent can't hit it the ball straight (that's pretty much in the hitting zone of the netplayer). To pass DTL he has to hit with a bit of an angle and if the ball is too long it will be outside the line. Almost impossible, so that side is covered. Now you only have to worry about the cc passing shot, which will also be difficult due to the small angle and the fact that you'll be anticipating that shot. Now i'm not an experienced volleyer, but 9/10 i get my racket on it (when i don't get lobbed ofc).

I've been watching some tennis on youtube with a special eye on the approach and it seems to underline my theory. The pro's have somewhat more succes due to their abilities, but it's still the best choice i think. Was wondering what you guys think.
 

IowaGuy

Hall of Fame
#2
If your intent is to cut off angles for the passing shot, then why wouldn't just right down the center be the best approach?

One advantage of an approach shot that is closer to a sideline (allowing of course for a little margin for error), is that it opens up the court more for a put-away volley. It does, however, give the opponent better angles for the passing shot, so there is a tradeoff there. Kind of like S&V wide versus S&V down the T.

Food for thought...
 
#3
Against 4.5s and 5.0s, an approach shot that's in between the center hash and sideline is going to be right in the wheel house whether it's a BH or FH. They'll gobble that up and rip it past you. Your best bet is to try and approach down the lines with slice or even deep topspin.
 
#4
Against 4.5s and 5.0s, an approach shot that's in between the center hash and sideline is going to be right in the wheel house whether it's a BH or FH. They'll gobble that up and rip it past you. Your best bet is to try and approach down the lines with slice or even deep topspin.
I agree. In general there's 4 spots to target, and one big spot to avoid. The target is usually the sideline Ts, or the deep corners. You're not trying to hit the line but just safely into these spots. You want to avoid hitting a ball in the center of court, that isn't really short or really deep. Otherwise you get wheelhoused as @MajesticMoose says, or lobbed. Which spot you pick depends on the circumstances. At least that's been my experience.

You can go straight at someone but you have to get it at their feet or keep it really low so they are handcuffed.
 
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#5
Yeah if you're going to approach right at them, a deep low bouncing slice right at their toes will force them to back pedal and try to desperately hit up on the ball putting them in a terrible position and if they get it back it'll be a super weak reply then you can just do whatever you want with the next shot to win the point.
 
#7
Against 4.5s and 5.0s, an approach shot that's in between the center hash and sideline is going to be right in the wheel house whether it's a BH or FH. They'll gobble that up and rip it past you. Your best bet is to try and approach down the lines with slice or even deep topspin.
I'm a 4.5 and have used the middle approach successfully many times. it's especially effective against:

- flat hitters who have trouble generating the angle+spin necessary [of course, they could slam it right at you, a la Lendl]
- people who hit better when moving [they tend to have problems when the ball comes straight at them]

No one said the approach had to sit up and be deep enough to get into their wheelhouse. A low slice that forces them to step inside the BL and hit more up can be very effective, even at 4.5. It doesn't work so well against 5.0s because their ground game is simply better than my net game.

That's not to say I only use the middle approach; of course I go DTL. i usually avoid CC because then I have to move a lot further to get into proper position.

I'm working on putting more depth and TS on my approaches.
 
#8
As a baseliner, a while ago i made the decision to rush the net more. Play serve and volley regularly and just approach the net during rallies. This to take more control of the points and practice my volley's (my volley technique is fine, but because i so rarely go to the net I'm not comfortable there and often miss easy volley's). It's like i'm playing a different game now. I get in all kinds of different situations. A lot of fun i must say and i think it makes me a better player.
Good choice! It expands your horizons and can be a heck of a lot of fun.

One nit pick: attacking the net doesn't necessarily allow me more control of the points. What it does is forces my opponent to make a decision whereas if I stayed on the BL, he doesn't have to. And certain types of opponents fold under such pressure allowing easy points. Others, of course, do better with a target. You'll be able to distinguish the two.

An interesting thing i found out about the placement of the approach and i was wondering if other people have experienced the same. To me it seems that the best placement is in the middle between the sideline and the center mark (right or left doesn't matter). If i have enough time to get to the net and position myself just right or left (depends what side of the court i hit my approach) of the center serviceline I almost never get passed. My approach doesn't even have to be that fast as long as it has reasonable depth. Also hitting it cross court or down the line doesn't matter as long as you're able to get in position in time.

A DTL passing shot will be very difficult since the opponent can't hit it the ball straight (that's pretty much in the hitting zone of the netplayer). To pass DTL he has to hit with a bit of an angle and if the ball is too long it will be outside the line. Almost impossible, so that side is covered. Now you only have to worry about the cc passing shot, which will also be difficult due to the small angle and the fact that you'll be anticipating that shot. Now i'm not an experienced volleyer, but 9/10 i get my racket on it (when i don't get lobbed ofc).

I've been watching some tennis on youtube with a special eye on the approach and it seems to underline my theory. The pro's have somewhat more succes due to their abilities, but it's still the best choice i think. Was wondering what you guys think.
I think a middle approach is sound and under-rated. The only suggestion is to mostly avoid the CC because you have to move further to get into good net position. It's worth doing occasionally to keep them honest but it's not my mainstay. The exception is when such a CC approach attacks their weakness and that shot is significantly weaker than their other wing.
 
#11
Um, you could say the same thing about any tactic. It's a matter of context and knowing the enemy.
Well but aproach shot should be difficult enough for opponent to be hitting a hard shot, if you hit in their strikezone any good player will punish you, better not even aproach.

I can get away with it against weaker players but not against good ones.
 
#12
If your intent is to cut off angles for the passing shot, then why wouldn't just right down the center be the best approach?
When you hit an approach down the center, the opponent can go either way and its a guessing game. If you hit it more right or left from the center hash, one side is almost impossible to pass and you can anticipate on the cc passing shot which is still in good reach due to the small angle. Also if you hit an approach thats very close to the sideline it's much easier for the opponent to hit a DTL passing shot or a cc passing shot angle wise.

Against 4.5s and 5.0s, an approach shot that's in between the center hash and sideline is going to be right in the wheel house whether it's a BH or FH.
I'm not saying to hit it right in their hitting zone. Of course you need to set the point up well. And assuming the approach has the right pace and depth. If you hit a DTL approach and the opponent is there allready it will not work either. Though i understand that its tougher to reach a DTL passing shot. But really, keep an eye on it during pro matches. You'll see its very effective. Even at that level.

Good choice! It expands your horizons and can be a heck of a lot of fun.
So much fun! I've never played so much during the winter months haha. Can't wait to get on the court. The rush of succesfully serve and volley or approach the net is great :giggle:
 
#13
When you hit an approach down the center, the opponent can go either way and its a guessing game.
But that's no different than if you approached DTL or CC: the opponent can still go either way.

The question isn't whether the opponent could go either way, it's how well does he go in either direction based on the angles available and how do you position yourself to get ready.

A DTM approach means minimal angle for my opponent. He could paint the sideline in either direction but my first assumption will be that he can't do that consistently; if he can, then I have to change my approach [pun intended]. The mere fact that he has a middle ball does not automatically mean I'm going to get passed.

Just because I hit a middle approach doesn't mean I'm going to resort to guessing, unless I hit a sitter. But then I'll have to guess no matter where I hit my approach.

And, as I wrote previously, flat ball hitters find it more difficult to generate the TS necessary to hit the extreme angles so these are the opponents against whom the DTM approach works best.

If you hit it more right or left from the center hash, one side is almost impossible to pass and you can anticipate on the cc passing shot which is still in good reach due to the small angle. Also if you hit an approach thats very close to the sideline it's much easier for the opponent to hit a DTL passing shot or a cc passing shot angle wise.
I disagree: it's not almost impossible to pass. Approaching DTL or CC merely changes the angles available vs DTM. What I have to do is then adjust my lateral position so I can equally cover both possibilities [shaded by what I know of his tendencies and capabilities].

If I approach DTL, I don't have to move laterally that much to get to a neutral position [which is why I avoid approaching CC for the most part]. If my opponent is at the sideline, I will position myself a few feet from the centerline towards the side where the ball is. Now I can cover the line and CC. In my experience, that "wide open" CC passer is a lot harder to hit consistently than appears. I'll give them a bit more CC and let them try.

The bottom line is that there are tradeoffs to all approaches [location, depth, and spin] and becoming a better net attacker means learning how to incorporate all of them based on what's working for you and what's uncomfortable for your opponent.
 
#14
Well but aproach shot should be difficult enough for opponent to be hitting a hard shot, if you hit in their strikezone any good player will punish you, better not even aproach.

I can get away with it against weaker players but not against good ones.
Fair enough. Just because I approach DTM, though, does not mean the ball will easily be in their strike zone. If I can hit a low, skidding slice, that might challenge them enough to cause errors. It's not so much a matter of whether my opponent is a good player so much as what is his level relative to me and how well does he deal with that particular shot: he might be a level above me but be uncomfortable with that particular scenario.
 
#15
Fair enough. Just because I approach DTM, though, does not mean the ball will easily be in their strike zone. If I can hit a low, skidding slice, that might challenge them enough to cause errors. It's not so much a matter of whether my opponent is a good player so much as what is his level relative to me and how well does he deal with that particular shot: he might be a level above me but be uncomfortable with that particular scenario.
Yes thats a good option, if you hit a very low skidding slice its extremely tough to hit a good passing shot or good shot in general, you have to be a very good player to do that.. but then again, its not easy to hit a low skidding slice, you have to be good to hit it also :laughing:
 
#16
not sure what level OP is but when I s&v and when I go against good s&v’ers, I find the best approach is anything deep...

i typically target 4 locations,... fh on the run, bh on the run, body and intentionally short (not a dropper)

a well hit body approach is really effective, and depending on the footwork of the opponent, can be more challenging than a bh/fh on the run... main con is that if you “miss” you give them a “sitter” where they don’t have to move and just do a unit turn.

side note, when you go body and jam them, you can almost guarantee that it can only go cc, or lob.

I also prefer underspin approaches since it forces the baseliner to hit up, as well as give me more time to close the net (avoid shoelace volleys). don't underestimate the power of forcing someone to move, and then bend for a knee high approach shot. i do a coop approach/baseline/net drill... and it's amazing how many folks miss being able to drive the "easy" deep low skidding approach (even when they don't have to move) - so against those guys, you can almost guarantee they will just lob.

aside from body approaches... at the 4.5 level I tend to do 3 to the bh (ideally make him move and get low), and 1 to the fh, to keep him guessing so he can’t cheat

go short if your deep approach is consistent and they are starting to take a step off the baseline to give themselves more time.

my $0.02


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 
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#17
Yes thats a good option, if you hit a very low skidding slice its extremely tough to hit a good passing shot or good shot in general, you have to be a very good player to do that.. but then again, its not easy to hit a low skidding slice, you have to be good to hit it also :laughing:
You don't have to hit a great shot to win the point; often, a functional one does the job.

Keeping that in mind, I try not to over-reach for great shots, especially against better players because then I'm just beating myself. At least give them a chance to make an error or sub-optimal shot. I'm not saying that's necessarily going to happen but if I overdo it, I won't ever find out.
 
#18
not sure what level OP is but when I s&v and when I go against good s&v’ers, I find the best approach is anything deep...

i typically target 4 locations,... fh on the run, bh on the run, body and intentionally short (not a dropper)

a well hit body approach is really effective, and depending on the footwork of the opponent, can be more challenging than a bh/fh on the run... main con is that if you “miss” you give them a “sitter” where they don’t have to move and just do a unit turn.

side note, when you go body and jam them, you can almost guarantee that it can only go cc, or lob.

I also prefer underspin approaches since it forces the baseliner to hit up, as well as give me more time to close the net (avoid shoelace volleys)

aside from body approaches... at the 4.5 level I tend to do 3 to the bh (ideally make him move and get low), and 1 to the fh, to keep him guessing so he can’t cheat

go short if your deep approach is consistent and they are starting to take a step off the baseline to give themselves more time.

my $0.02


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
I thought you always S&V?
 
#19
I thought you always S&V?
lol, because you saw the one vid of me and shroud hitting (where agreed to play a practice set where we forced each other to s&v - because he didn't have his normal racquet and couldn't hit a groundie that day)...
nah, i'm usually and aggressive baseliner that likes to finish at the net.

i know how to hit topspin from the baseline, damnit! :p
 
#20
I'm a 4.5 and have used the middle approach successfully many times. it's especially effective against:

- flat hitters who have trouble generating the angle+spin necessary [of course, they could slam it right at you, a la Lendl]
- people who hit better when moving [they tend to have problems when the ball comes straight at them]

No one said the approach had to sit up and be deep enough to get into their wheelhouse. A low slice that forces them to step inside the BL and hit more up can be very effective, even at 4.5. It doesn't work so well against 5.0s because their ground game is simply better than my net game.

That's not to say I only use the middle approach; of course I go DTL. i usually avoid CC because then I have to move a lot further to get into proper position.

I'm working on putting more depth and TS on my approaches.
That semi-short and low skidding ball is probably my favorite approach shot for doubles for a lot of aspects. When a confident baseliner is forced to lunge forward and shovel the ball up, it's usually impossible for that player to do anything remarkable with that shot. It's also pretty easy for me to feather this low shot away from the partner up at the net with accuracy.

I think that I'm less prone to using the low, short skidder in a singles setting though, because an opponent is typically forced to hit a lob and that can be more neutralizing in this situation without a doubles partner next to me.
 
#21
That semi-short and low skidding ball is probably my favorite approach shot for doubles for a lot of aspects. When a confident baseliner is forced to lunge forward and shovel the ball up, it's usually impossible for that player to do anything remarkable with that shot. It's also pretty easy for me to feather this low shot away from the partner up at the net with accuracy.
Agreed. I use this against guys who can pummel passing shots in their strike zone. They're still pretty good even when moving forward but their effectiveness drops.

I think that I'm less prone to using the low, short skidder in a singles setting though, because an opponent is typically forced to hit a lob and that can be more neutralizing in this situation without a doubles partner next to me.
My obvious response: work on your OHs! :p

I welcome the lob because it means the point is now on my racquet and my opponent has given up trying to pass me. I'm totally satisfied with that [I may not be totally satisfied with my OH but that's a different story].
 
#22
lol, because you saw the one vid of me and shroud hitting (where agreed to play a practice set where we forced each other to s&v - because he didn't have his normal racquet and couldn't hit a groundie that day)...
nah, i'm usually and aggressive baseliner that likes to finish at the net.

i know how to hit topspin from the baseline, damnit! :p
Oh... i see, I guess thats worse for me since my passing shots are one of the better things in my game :-D
 
#23
As a baseliner, a while ago i made the decision to rush the net more. Play serve and volley regularly and just approach the net during rallies. This to take more control of the points and practice my volley's (my volley technique is fine, but because i so rarely go to the net I'm not comfortable there and often miss easy volley's). It's like i'm playing a different game now. I get in all kinds of different situations. A lot of fun i must say and i think it makes me a better player.

An interesting thing i found out about the placement of the approach and i was wondering if other people have experienced the same. To me it seems that the best placement is in the middle between the sideline and the center mark (right or left doesn't matter). If i have enough time to get to the net and position myself just right or left (depends what side of the court i hit my approach) of the center serviceline I almost never get passed. My approach doesn't even have to be that fast as long as it has reasonable depth. Also hitting it cross court or down the line doesn't matter as long as you're able to get in position in time.

A DTL passing shot will be very difficult since the opponent can't hit it the ball straight (that's pretty much in the hitting zone of the netplayer). To pass DTL he has to hit with a bit of an angle and if the ball is too long it will be outside the line. Almost impossible, so that side is covered. Now you only have to worry about the cc passing shot, which will also be difficult due to the small angle and the fact that you'll be anticipating that shot. Now i'm not an experienced volleyer, but 9/10 i get my racket on it (when i don't get lobbed ofc).

I've been watching some tennis on youtube with a special eye on the approach and it seems to underline my theory. The pro's have somewhat more succes due to their abilities, but it's still the best choice i think. Was wondering what you guys think.
Nice!!!

I'll try to resist yammering out an entire novel here, but I'm digging that you're enjoying the attacking-the-net mode of play. If your baseline ability isn't better than what an opponent can do, you need this dimension in your game to create chances for you to earn more points.

A few years ago when the US Open was on TV, two guys were playing a singles match. One player was a tough baseliner, but the other was pretty much a S&V heavy - maybe Wes Moodie who was from I think the UK. He rushed the net behind most of his serves, but he also attacked whenever he had a short ball that let him step inside the baseline. This was real tooth-and-nail grinder of a match and I don't even remember who won, but the individual points gave me the most illuminating contrast between good approach shots and crummy ones that I've ever seen.

The instant that the net-rusher's approach shot landed in the opponent's court, the point was almost always decided based on the depth of the approach shot regardless of whether it landed near the middle of the baseline or out near a sideline. With the approach shot tucked in within 12"-18" of the baseline, the attacker cleaned up. Whenever the ball was left around four feet or more short of the baseline, the other guy could pick a spot and make the net rusher lunge and scramble or just watch the passing shot fly past him.

This match reinforced a truth of attacking the net; your opponent can't hurt you as easily when he (or she) has to hit from further away from you. Depth is a crucial priority for many effective approaches. You get more time to react.

I think that approaching DTL or CC does matter... when it matters. Whenever we rush the net, we need to get forward and set up as fast as we can. Approaching DTL means approaching straight ahead - less ground to cover than when we approach CC. Plus, even if we approach DTL and don't make it all the way to the ideal net position in time for the next shot, we still have a DTL reply closed off while we're moving forward. That counts for a lot when we're approaching with a tight margin of success against a tough opponent. But if a short ball pulls us way inside the baseline, that's when it's a lot easier to hit an approach and quickly cross the gap. More options to work with, right?

I'll check back, but it's time for lunch...
 
#24
Agreed. I use this against guys who can pummel passing shots in their strike zone. They're still pretty good even when moving forward but their effectiveness drops.



My obvious response: work on your OHs! :p

I welcome the lob because it means the point is now on my racquet and my opponent has given up trying to pass me. I'm totally satisfied with that [I may not be totally satisfied with my OH but that's a different story].
Good call!! I'm cozy enough with hitting overheads, but I think that many singles opponents can generally lob into a bigger target because I'm not at the net with a partner. In doubs when I hit the short skidding approach shot and the cross-court opponent scoops it up, my doubs partner already has the straight ahead reply covered. If I don't over-commit and move forward too far behind that approach, I can also easily cover a lob that gets behind my partner.

When I'm rushing the net in singles, I think there's a little more urgency to get forward because I'm closing down the angles by myself (both DTL and CC). Together with a doubs partner, we can take away a few strong options, but not so much when I'm alone in a singes setting. So I think that this is where the target for a deep lob can be a little easier for a singles opponent to find.
 
#25
When I'm rushing the net in singles, I think there's a little more urgency to get forward because I'm closing down the angles by myself (both DTL and CC). Together with a doubs partner, we can take away a few strong options, but not so much when I'm alone in a singes setting. So I think that this is where the target for a deep lob can be a little easier for a singles opponent to find.
Well, first off, it's good that you recognize the difference between doubles and singles. Some aren't that aware.

I'd describe it as a balancing act with a fulcrum that moves: against some opponents, you can get closer to the net without fear because they lack the lob gene. Against others, you have to be more conservative because they usually lob. And it also varies within a match: they may start with one strategy and switch gears later.

Bottom line is that if my opponent can place lobs consistently within 5' of the BL, my OH better be on that day or else I'll have to stop coming to the net.
 
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