Can somebody shed some light on this?

Egoista

Professional
Hi!!

I am a topspin centric player (trying to work on making it heavier).
Am in my 30s been playing for roughly 17 years.

Normally do great against hard hitters but get into trouble against floaters and people generally who put no pace on the ball.


Lately have been working on movement and cardio drills and seem to have improved my movement greatly. WHo would have thought that one could improve their movement with just 2 weeks of the drills so far. Played D3 college in cali but didnt do these drills so much then.

Anyways back on point : Lately if someone gives me a weak return with no pace on the ball and roughly waist height ( the kind the pros just wallop away) I go to hit it either with heavy topspin or flat and either end up framing it or hitting it way long

I mean I feel either I am "wristing" the ball too much and not hitting it from the shoulder and waist transition or scared of hitting it long. But the results are disastrous as weak players get away with it against me.

I am even doing transition drills for this specific shot but do not seem to get anywhere.

Is there anyone who can help here?

Thanks
 

Easy Rider

Professional
Do you feel like yoz strugle to provide your own pace, depth, penetration ? Seems like you are real counterpuncher
 

movdqa

Talk Tennis Guru
Here's a good match to watch so that you don't feel like you're the only person with this problem:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TV549G-dv5s

Do you practice against people that hit a variety of shots? Slow balls, slow and sliced, slow, sliced and high? My main practice partner gives me lots of these in practice along with the usual slugfests, flat and topspin.

It's easy to hit with pace against fast shots (assuming that you can get to them easily) because you're reflecting the incoming pace but it may feel harder if you have to generate all of the pace yourself. That's something to practice on. You should be able to generate plenty of pace on a slow ball - even one fed out of your hand.
 

LeeD

Bionic Poster
Lots of pretty good players can handle pace, but get flummoxed by weird spins and spinless soft balls. It's just practice and determination to hit through the ball, early prep, shoulder's turned, watch the ball to impact.
You are what you practice, so go out and hit against some lower level players and get used to pummeling their weak shots. You can slice if their shots land shorter than mid NML, controlling depth and changing the bounce of your shots.. If you choose topspin, you are hitting into a shorter court, so control your swings and add more topspin. However, a short topspin ball is not hard to handle for most players.
 

mntlblok

Hall of Fame
Here's a good match to watch so that you don't feel like you're the only person with this problem:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TV549G-dv5s
Was going to make the same suggestion. :)

There's probably quite a few things going on that differ with no pace balls than with hard drives, but I feel like two* of them are especially important.

First, as has been mentioned, there's already plenty of energy in the ball with pace, so you can just use that. Not so with the slow ball. Doesn't seem fair, does it? :) Actually, I see that attitude a *lot* and it doesn't help with solving the problem. The same swing that works on the ball with pace will not necessarily work on the "sitter".

The second issue is that the ball with pace is traveling close to the horizontal. The sitter may be dropping almost straight down. If you were to hold a relatively vertical racket face still and let that dropping sitter strike the strings, where do you think that ball will rebound off those strings? Hint: it ain't gonna be back over the net. :)

I'd suggest feeding yerself balls by throwing them straight up in the air, waiting for them to bounce, and then try various strokes for making that sitting duck go where you want it to go in the manner you want it to get there. *One* way that will work is to think of making contact very low on the ball (near the South Pole?) and whipping up very steeply. May have to experiment a bit with the racket face angle. A topspin lob can be hit off these by actually using a slightly open racket face and swinging steeply up. It's an important experiment to run if you have to deal with these kinds of balls and you don't feel like you *own* the shot.

Something that you'll pick up with that drill is that the height of the ball is changing quite a bit during yer swing. Watch it carefully all the way to contact.

*Oh, and one other difference. That kind of incoming ball doesn't have a lot of topspin on it. TW University explains to us that a highly topspun ball coming at you will leave yer racket face on a much more upward trajectory than one without topspin. You may be used to that and expect to rely on it with the "sitter", as well - but it doesn't happen.

This game ain't as easy as it looks. :)
 

TennisCJC

Legend
The only thing I have for you is try this when hitting a soft ball in your hitting zone. I am going to assume that you are making contact on or inside the baseline and trying to be aggressive as that seems to be the point of your thread.

Working on hitting a fast topspin shot about 18 inches over the net strap. Lowering the trajectory will hopefully keep you from brushing up too much. Try to get good RHS and use a full swing. You want topspin but you aren't trying to hit a looper so lower the trajectory.
 

Lance L

Semi-Pro
I think this is a very common problem. I know I suffer from this. As far as I can tell, when this happens to me I'm playing tight and probably trying to hit it to hard, make too much of the weak shot. My signal that I'm tight is whether my wrist is hanging loose at the back of the backswing. Maybe you can find something similar that is an indication for you that you are tight.
 

eelhc

Hall of Fame
I've been told that this is among the toughest skill to master in Tennis (generating one's own pace from a sitter). I am working on this but still suck at it so bad that I hit a hard slice and hope to put it away on the next shot.
 

mntlblok

Hall of Fame
I think this is a very common problem. I know I suffer from this. As far as I can tell, when this happens to me I'm playing tight and probably trying to hit it to hard, make too much of the weak shot. My signal that I'm tight is whether my wrist is hanging loose at the back of the backswing. Maybe you can find something similar that is an indication for you that you are tight.
I wonder if the tightness comes from the realization that you miss too many of these and maybe don't know exactly "why". I suspect that this shot isn't practiced nearly as much as it should be. Can't tell you the number of tournament matches I've watched where the first guy to hit a short ball ends up winning the point because the opponent either wimps out on this shot or goes for too much - and then acts like he can't *believe* he missed the shot - even though he's done it repeatedly. :)
 

mntlblok

Hall of Fame
I've been told that this is among the toughest skill to master in Tennis (generating one's own pace from a sitter). I am working on this but still suck at it so bad that I hit a hard slice and hope to put it away on the next shot.
That ain't the worst plan. . . :)
 

badkitty

Rookie
The trick to putting away short balls is hitting them at the top of the bounce. Watch the ball closely. If you can't get there soon enough to hit it at the top of the bounce, then be a bit more conservative and spin it into a corner. It's really difficult to hit a ball hard once is drops well below the top of the net.
 
The trick to putting away short balls is hitting them at the top of the bounce. Watch the ball closely. If you can't get there soon enough to hit it at the top of the bounce, then be a bit more conservative and spin it into a corner. It's really difficult to hit a ball hard once is drops well below the top of the net.
Nowadays, I slice the short balls DTL for a net approach (or short drop slice) if I'm not able to hit them at the peak of the bounce. After making this switch, the errors on short balls have basically gone away.
 

RajS

Semi-Pro
Yesterday, I saw the Serena-Niculesu match (on the Tennis Channel). I expected Serena to win 6-1 and 6-2, but no, she was just tied into knots playing Niculescu's forehand slices with very little pace. This, somewhat perversely, made me happy since these type of balls cause havoc at the level where I subsist and it felt good to see an elite player having similar issues, lol! Eventually Serena did win 7-5,7-5 - but barely, it seemed. There were a lot of breaks back and forth.

There are a lot of good tips here, and as per the commentators for the match, the key was good footwork, which Serena was not doing probably because this was her first match of the tournament.
 
Yesterday, I saw the Serena-Niculesu match (on the Tennis Channel). I expected Serena to win 6-1 and 6-2, but no, she was just tied into knots playing Niculescu's forehand slices with very little pace. This, somewhat perversely, made me happy since these type of balls cause havoc at the level where I subsist and it felt good to see an elite player having similar issues, lol! Eventually Serena did win 7-5,7-5 - but barely, it seemed. There were a lot of breaks back and forth.

There are a lot of good tips here, and as per the commentators for the match, the key was good footwork, which Serena was not doing probably because this was her first match of the tournament.
Niculescu slice pushing works better against Serena than Sharapova's hard hitting. That's a lesson to learn: Against a better player (Sharapova against Serena), you can NEVER EVER win by just hitting basic groundstrokes, no matter how well you hit them. So rather just try to mix it up, and break the game of the better player with junkballing. That's your ONLY CHANCE!
 

Egoista

Professional
after reading most of the comments I am looking forward to trying out the suggestions tomorrow when I go to hit.
Early shoulder turn, waist rotation ...but some queries are abit misleading.
I am not trying to hit these short floaters from the baseline.
I am having issues with the short ball at or near the service line.

End up framing or hitting it out. i guess i get tight as well but then again even in practice seem to hit that shot out
 

RetroSpin

Hall of Fame
Lot of good advice already. Since your problem is framing or hitting out, I would suspect your contact is inconsistent. That could go back to footwork, maintaining your level as you hit the ball and forcing yourself to see the ball through contact and not peeking at your target.

For me, maintaining my level, ie not standing up, was a key.
 

mntlblok

Hall of Fame
after reading most of the comments I am looking forward to trying out the suggestions tomorrow when I go to hit.
Early shoulder turn, waist rotation ...but some queries are abit misleading.
I am not trying to hit these short floaters from the baseline.
I am having issues with the short ball at or near the service line.

End up framing or hitting it out. i guess i get tight as well but then again even in practice seem to hit that shot out
Have you tried throwing up some balls and letting them drop down and bouncing before hitting them from up in the court? You *know* that you can't hit the same distance with that ball, as the opposing baseline is closer to you. Do you know how to hit a ball that distance? How far *is* that distance? Points to ponder. . . :)

Seems to me to be a very high correlation between framing the ball and taking yer eye off of it. . .
 
Hi!!
Lately have been working on movement and cardio drills and seem to have improved my movement greatly. WHo would have thought that one could improve their movement with just 2 weeks of the drills so far. Played D3 college in cali but didnt do these drills so much then.
What kind of footwork drills have you been doing? How often for how long?

Why do you think your movement improved greatly?

Thanks.
 

Bender

G.O.A.T.
If you're framing the ball with the bottom part of the racquet on a forehand, it could be that you're lifting off your feet a bit too much. Stay low and swing; no need to use that much leg.

Source: Was chronic shanker who'd make Federer proud until recently.
 

Chas Tennis

G.O.A.T.
A high speed video of your strokes will show some candidates flaws.

Not looking at the ball, which can be seen in standard 30 fps videos, would be the first thing to check. After you mishit ask yourself what spot on the back of the ball did you impact? If you have no clear idea, maybe you were not looking at the ball. Whether you hit on the top or bottom half of the ball depends on how opened or closed the racket face is and that is probably always hard to actually see. Opened or closed racket face can show in high speed video from the side view with small motion blur.
 

movdqa

Talk Tennis Guru
On short balls, the things that I focus on:

- Racquet back with a short backswing and prepared early
- Weight slightly back just before hitting the ball with small footwork adjustments
- Watch the ball
- Hit through with a fast but abbreviated stroke.
- Be prepared to spring forward if the ball doesn't come to you as expected. My default position is a bit further back and if the ball has a ton of slice or less topspin than expected, I can just move forward and the shot will have more power from the body moving forward. I picked this up from watching Murray - even though he often just backs up after the shot instead of moving forward.

Someone that I like to watch on hitting short balls is Berdych - he works very hard on preparation to hit these and often hits outright winners on them. His preparation is a bit easier to see compared to Federer, perhaps because he's so big so that he has to be more deliberate in doing so.
 
Last edited:
A hard hit ball is TRIVIAL in comparison to floater. Why? Because the hard hit flat balls stays at the hitting height for a much longer time, so timing is not as hard. A hard hitter who doesn't have accuracy to paint the lines is by far the easiest opponent of them all, no question about it.
 

Merlin703

Rookie
Hi!!

I am a topspin centric player (trying to work on making it heavier).
Am in my 30s been playing for roughly 17 years.

Normally do great against hard hitters but get into trouble against floaters and people generally who put no pace on the ball.


Lately have been working on movement and cardio drills and seem to have improved my movement greatly. WHo would have thought that one could improve their movement with just 2 weeks of the drills so far. Played D3 college in cali but didnt do these drills so much then.

Anyways back on point : Lately if someone gives me a weak return with no pace on the ball and roughly waist height ( the kind the pros just wallop away) I go to hit it either with heavy topspin or flat and either end up framing it or hitting it way long

I mean I feel either I am "wristing" the ball too much and not hitting it from the shoulder and waist transition or scared of hitting it long. But the results are disastrous as weak players get away with it against me.

I am even doing transition drills for this specific shot but do not seem to get anywhere.

Is there anyone who can help here?

Thanks
  • Learn to be patient
  • Play more with those players that hit with no pace to get a better reading of the ball
  • keep your eyes on the ball. Those slices, or whatever they throw at you will move the same way at bounce. Once you know what the ball will do, you can then put the person on the run
  • Because you avoid those ball with no pace, you don't have enough patience and experience to handle those
Yesterday, I play against a guy that had problems handling balls with no pace. I lost to this guy a few weeks back on a tie break. Back then I use no pace and slices (won the set) and changed my strategy to put more pace on the ball and hit deeper (not my type of game yet but I wanted to put it in play) losing this set. By then the guy was able to better read my "tricky" game and got me on the tie break by a point.

We play again last week but I try to simply play with more pace, go for winner and hit deep. He killed me. The second set, I changed my pace, causing many errors at this end. He still won that set but once I changed my style to hit slow balls, he couldn't hit them all back.
 

LakeSnake

Professional
FWIW, Alen Fox said he was unconvinced that hitting winners from the baseline was a sustainable strategy, and felt that finishing off points with volleys was the higher% play. He was talking about pros, book written in early 90s.

Perhaps an analogy--in pickup basketball, is it better to shoot from 20' away or go to the paint?
 

Egoista

Professional
What kind of footwork drills have you been doing? How often for how long?

Why do you think your movement improved greatly?

Thanks.
Buddy I do not know the names of them but have picked them up from youtube.
I use cones, tennis balls , side to side movement, ladder etc incorporated into my footwork drills.

I think it has made me way lighter on my feet and able to reach the ball slightly earlier than normal.
Hasnt helped me more than 40% so far as I am trying to transition my game to a heavier racq namely the Head 25yrs Limited edition IG youtek prestige.

Do it for roughly 40 minutes a day before playing.

Do not have time to do it longer
 

Egoista

Professional
On short balls, the things that I focus on:

- Racquet back with a short backswing and prepared early
- Weight slightly back just before hitting the ball with small footwork adjustments
- Watch the ball
- Hit through with a fast but abbreviated stroke.
- Be prepared to spring forward if the ball doesn't come to you as expected. My default position is a bit further back and if the ball has a ton of slice or less topspin than expected, I can just move forward and the shot will have more power from the body moving forward. I picked this up from watching Murray - even though he often just backs up after the shot instead of moving forward.

Someone that I like to watch on hitting short balls is Berdych - he works very hard on preparation to hit these and often hits outright winners on them. His preparation is a bit easier to see compared to Federer, perhaps because he's so big so that he has to be more deliberate in doing so.
thanks I try to do most of that stuff but seem to be unable to figure out a shortened stroke yet get power and spin especially on the low slices.
Hate being passed when approaching on a short ball.
I try to kill it off but frame it
 

movdqa

Talk Tennis Guru
Low and short is problematic. You may not be able to hit a hard ball because it's enough work to reach it and get something on it but you should be able to place it well if you're not looking to hit spin and pace and you may be able to put it away, draw an error or a weak return with a well placed shot. You might also be able to hit a short angled shot.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nzvzxyvyPsQ
 

Egoista

Professional
i think what makes it more difficult is that my extreme grip coupled with the bigger grip pallet of the Head prestige ig as compared to the Donnay gold although both are 4 1/4 plays a role as well.

I am trying my best to adjust but it is quite difficult. In addition when I am pushed right on my forehand by a hard shot I am finding it quite problematic to reach it and smack it down the line or a hard topspin shot down the line.

Am looking for drills or anything that could help in that
 
Top