cross court approach

#1
Recently I have been spending hours staring out the window waiting for a pair of old @J011yroger s socks to be delivered and thinking about tennis.

That reminded me of situations where I hit crosscourt shots and approach. I know thats a no no but I do it and it ALWAYS ends in disaster.

To be clear, I am not talking about the scene in Terminator where a list of options to approach appears on the screen:

1. Approach DTL
2. Approach Down The Middle
3. Approach Cross Court

And I pick 3 like its the best reply.

I am talking about some short slice shot where you get to it and can only really hit a slice back cross court and find yourself almost at the service line. Moving back seems like a bad option just like coming in so I pick coming in because my net game is better than my baseline game.

If you are in that not so good situation is there some way to make the most out of it like shade one way or the other? I always seem to get passed no matter what I do...
 
#2
There is a technical stroke mechanic solution to hit that ball that's at the service line that is only 6 inches off the ground down the line with decent pace and depth and approach. Watch any ATP pro.

You have to move through the ball. Hitting off the front foot and landing on the front foot kicking your back leg back for balance. Like really extended superman like. The racket path is forward. The jump up and really forward imparts just enough spin to barely clear the net and land deep. It's a front foot hop forehand stroke but slightly modified for the low approach down the line. Most 4.0 players do not even know this shot exists because they think the ball is too low to be hit down the line. I've also never seen this specific shot technique discussed online in YouTube coaches. Tennis player. Net has some coaches teaching the front foot hop. But they never explain exactly how to do it with that super low ball to approach down the line. My sons coach showed him as part of his training.

I drill my son every week doing this. I stand on the same side of net. Toss ball barely off the ground towards player standing slightly in no man's land then player moves through the shot. Next progression is from other side of net few steps over fh side of hash. Player starts as if in a baseline rally. Then next progression I use is a fh squash shot or defensive fh slice from past the singles sideline cross court into the same spot. Players moves in from baseline and hits approach as usual. Doing this in same side of net using hand feeds you get a lot more reps in. Across the net both players simulated match play but less reps. Once player has this shot more reps is more important so I usually drill from same side because that's what his coach told me to do.

You can also drill this for inside in. Using a backhand slice from past ad sideline that lands midcourt towards the body. The player runs around and thru and hits the inside in fh for the approach into opponent fh.
 
#3
There is a technical stroke mechanic solution to hit that ball that's at the service line that is only 6 inches off the ground down the line with decent pace and depth and approach. Watch any ATP pro.

You have to move through the ball. Hitting off the front foot and landing on the front foot kicking your back leg back for balance. Like really extended superman like. The racket path is forward. The jump up and really forward imparts just enough spin to barely clear the net and land deep. It's a front foot hop forehand stroke but slightly modified for the low approach down the line. Most 4.0 players do not even know this shot exists because they think the ball is too low to be hit down the line. I've also never seen this specific shot technique discussed online in YouTube coaches. Tennis player. Net has some coaches teaching the front foot hop. But they never explain exactly how to do it with that super low ball to approach down the line. My sons coach showed him as part of his training.

I drill my son every week doing this. I stand on the same side of net. Toss ball barely off the ground towards player standing slightly in no man's land then player moves through the shot. Next progression is from other side of net few steps over fh side of hash. Player starts as if in a baseline rally. Then next progression I use is a fh squash shot or defensive fh slice from past the singles sideline cross court into the same spot. Players moves in from baseline and hits approach as usual. Doing this in same side of net using hand feeds you get a lot more reps in. Across the net both players simulated match play but less reps. Once player has this shot more reps is more important so I usually drill from same side because that's what his coach told me to do.

You can also drill this for inside in. Using a backhand slice from past ad sideline that lands midcourt towards the body. The player runs around and thru and hits the inside in fh for the approach into opponent fh.
You could have just said "hit down the line" :)
 
#5
Oh I didn't think you knew how to do it from that position on court. So I'm trying to help you.
I know you are trying to help.

Being able to do something and doing it are two different things.

Its just that the slice pattern is typically cc bh back to the person and its just habit to hit it back there. The net part is an afterthought basically. Its like I hit the shot crosscourt and holy s$$$ I am at the service line...

I will try DTL and see. And fwiw I have issues with all the footwork explanations. I saw some Fuzzy Yellow balls vid about footwork and karaoke stepped my way to the bath room to throw up.
 
#6
I know you are trying to help.

Being able to do something and doing it are two different things.

Its just that the slice pattern is typically cc bh back to the person and its just habit to hit it back there. The net part is an afterthought basically. Its like I hit the shot crosscourt and holy s$$$ I am at the service line...

I will try DTL and see. And fwiw I have issues with all the footwork explanations. I saw some Fuzzy Yellow balls vid about footwork and karaoke stepped my way to the bath room to throw up.
On the backhand side you will need to slice dtl imo. 2hbh can drive it much easier dtl.

The low ball coming into the fh is what I was actually talking about.

But in your situation of the short cross court bh rally approaching cross court imo is better than dtl. But a good variation is to hit it more towards the center of the ad side as you approach to lessen the angle of the passing shot. Not wide off the court.
 
#7
On the backhand side you will need to slice dtl imo. 2hbh can drive it much easier dtl.

The low ball coming into the fh is what I was actually talking about.

But in your situation of the short cross court bh rally approaching cross court imo is better than dtl. But a good variation is to hit it more towards the center of the ad side as you approach to lessen the angle of the passing shot. Not wide off the court.
Check out the point at 38 sec. Thats what I was talking about:

 
#8
Check out the point at 38 sec. Thats what I was talking about:

You were at the wrong spot for volley. But your approach was to the right spot. Notice how his passing shot fades wide? If you approach off a wider shot he has a higher percentage pass even if going down the line as the pass will fade into the court.
 
#9
Check out the point at 38 sec. Thats what I was talking about:
I probably would have gone DTL with my approach, all other things being equal.

Things that would have nudged me to go CC:
- My opponent was leaning toward my DTL
- My opponent had a significantly weaker BH than FH

I'm not trying to win the point outright on the approach; I'm simply challenging my opponent to "pass me if you can" and to give him something that makes him a bit uncomfortable.

I re-read your post: "Its just that the slice pattern is typically cc bh back to the person and its just habit to hit it back there. The net part is an afterthought basically."

The difference is that I'm always looking to attack the net so as soon as I see that short ball, I'm switching into net mode.

I agree with you that if it was a deep slice my first reaction would be to slice it back CC. But coming to the net tosses those Wardlaw [BL] rules out the window and a different set of rules takes over.
 
#10
Follow the ball...

Conventional wisdom says to hit (most) approaches DTL. However, modern players will often go CC with their approach shots -- particularly on the BH side. According to Will Hamilton, Pat Rafter would do this often with his BH approaches -- sometimes DTL and sometimes CC. But, with CC approach shots, it is important to move even more quickly to get into the optimal position -- since you need to cover more ground to follow your shot. Attacking the BH side makes a lot of sense if that is your opponent's weaker side. Hitting the approach shot to the FH side, even if it is your opponent's strength, given the right circumstances (see video below).

With the DTL appoach, you would move primarily forward (straight ahead). However, to follow the ball on a CC approach, you need to move diagonally forward -- very quickly -- so that you cross the mid-line. The pros are usually good at covering their CC approaches. Rec players are often too slow or too lazy to pull this off. If that is the case, best to go DTL most of the time on approach shots. Another option is to hit your approach up the middle -- to, possibly, cut down angles/passing shots by your opponent.

 

FiReFTW

Hall of Fame
#11
Check out the point at 38 sec. Thats what I was talking about:

That ball is a sitter lol, I thought you meant low skid knifing short slices that stay like 10 times bellow net level.

Depending on opponents position I would drive that shot DDL or hit a sharp CC angle, most of the times I get this kind of shot I hit a winner and end the point, unless my foorwork and positioning is bad and I overhit or something.

Now if the slice is extremely knife like and such a short ball stays extremely low its quite hard to drive it ddl or cc with good velocity you need to really spin it and expect the opponent to get to it so get ready at the net, maybe also attempt a drop shot off it if hes positioned badly, very short over the net drop shot.
 
#12
Yea that approach shot was weak, but I guess that is not the point of the discussion. So coming to the topic.

1. Your end position is too bad. Too much open for a down the line pass. But luckily not many 4.0 folks can hit clean down the line passing shots on back hand side, under pressure. You ended up in that bad position because your angle of approach was too steep. If you draw a line from your starting point through the direction of approach, you will end up at the net by the middle line. But that is not the middle of the cone of angle from where the opponent is hitting the passing shot. You need to be approaching in a more wider angle. Obviously how far in front you end up depends on other factors like speed. But the end point, when touching the net should be on your deuce side (does not mean you have to kiss the net). This is assuming opponents can hit both sides with enough consistency. But at 4.0 you will see a better consistency of passing cross court from backhand side, and so in the end it may not be a bad idea if the opponent misses too many down the line attempts (just like in that video).

2. I understand it was an after thought, and that is probably why you hit it that deep. But for sure a shorter and lower slice would definitely help to reduce the angles available to pass. The more closer the opponent is to the net hitting the shot, the less angle you have to cover. But obviously you have less reaction time, and so if the opponent reaches there comfortably, and the ball sits up nice and easy, then you are screwed, so the short slice has to be low, and possibly low paced. Even a drop shot is not a bad idea (but risk is more if not executed properly, since more chance of sitting nice and high).

3. Now if that approach was not an after thought, you do have the skills to hit that same shot down the line. But that high of a ball going to the forehand of your opponent is not too good. But at least you dont have to work hard to get to the right position at net on your approach.


Check out the point at 38 sec. Thats what I was talking about:
 

atp2015

Hall of Fame
#15
... a list of options to approach appears on the screen:

1. Approach DTL
2. Approach Down The Middle
3. Approach Cross Court
There's another very effective option when replying a short slice to your bh. One guy I play with wins the point 8 out of 10 times by executing a varying degrees of spin. That's play the net - i.e drop shot.

Many examples here, the very first point by Fed illustrates it.
 
#17
Follow the ball...

Conventional wisdom says to hit (most) approaches DTL. However, modern players will often go CC with their approach shots -- particularly on the BH side. According to Will Hamilton, Pat Rafter would do this often with his BH approaches -- sometimes DTL and sometimes CC. But, with CC approach shots, it is important to move even more quickly to get into the optimal position -- since you need to cover more ground to follow your shot. Attacking the BH side makes a lot of sense if that is your opponent's weaker side. Hitting the approach shot to the FH side, even if it is your opponent's strength, given the right circumstances (see video below).

With the DTL appoach, you would move primarily forward (straight ahead). However, to follow the ball on a CC approach, you need to move diagonally forward -- very quickly -- so that you cross the mid-line. The pros are usually good at covering their CC approaches. Rec players are often too slow or too lazy to pull this off. If that is the case, best to go DTL most of the time on approach shots. Another option is to hit your approach up the middle -- to, possibly, cut down angles/passing shots by your opponent.

My thinking is that a righty will hit his BH approach to another righty CC because he wants to avoid his opponent's FH.

At the rec level, this might be giving too much credit to the opponent. You have to weigh the factors. 4 out 5 dentists surveyed [anyone remember that commercial?] go DTL.

If my opponent is beating me with his FH passer, I'll change strategy.
 

FiReFTW

Hall of Fame
#18
You should always change things up not always hit to the same spot and the same shot, predictable 101.

Also depends on where opponent is standing and if your peripheral vision noticed that he starts to explode and run into one direction then you can easily place it to the opposite side last second.
 
#19
Check out the point at 38 sec. Thats what I was talking about:

Looking good, slugger!! Thanks for posting video. Much to discuss...

Forehand approach shot at 0:35 - topspin shot, more or less dtl, nice and deep (pushes your opponent BACK so that he's farther away from you as you set up at the net). Cha-ching!!

Backhand slice approach at 0:46 - your slice is not deep and your opponent has a good look at a pass, but doesn't take advantage and sprays his shot. You absolutely had to go to net behind your slice because his short shot pulled you so far inside the baseline.

Forehand approach shot at 0:56 - this approach is also good because it's pretty deep, but you hit your approach from not-so-far inside your baseline and you have a bigger gap to cross. His reply comes back while you're at the service line. No big angles open for you until you get a couple more steps forward, so I'd say try to "freeze" him from there with a deep first volley, either right back at him in that corner or over in the other corner. Then pop your next volley through the open half of the court.

Forehand approach at 1:15 - topspin shot, right to your opponent and also not deep. Both this approach and the 0:56 approach are topspin forehands - they get to you opponent quickly and they come back at you before you can get inside your service line. He should have given you a lot more trouble with his reply, but I guess his crummy backhand let you off the hook. If either of these forehand approach shots are slower flying slices, you'll have extra time to get inside the service line. Not saying your should hit a forehand slice, but it's a dimension to consider.

With both the 0:56 and 1:15 approach shots, you're only just a step inside the baseline. I'd say that should often be a no-go area for rushing the net compared with having a ball that pulls you one extra step forward. Watching both of those points again, I can sort of relate because I was a serve and volleyer as a kid. If I'm being overly aggressive on a hard court, I might also attack the net from there, but it's usually a little too deep to work well unless I hit a fantastic approach shot that lands maybe six inches inside the far baseline.

Forehand approach at 1:27 - sort of a snowshovel shot, but it's a good approach because you guided it deep to his end and he coughed up a free lunch off his heels.

Forehand approach at 1:39 - another zippy topspin shot that comes back in a hurry before you can get inside the service line. Since your approach isn't deep, he's not back on his heels and can just step into a routine forehand.

Btw, I can't believe that you didn't just hit every single approach shot to this guy's backhand. Woof!!

The slice approach shot is still as effective today as it was 40 or 50 years ago - it gives a net-rusher that vital extra time to get forward. Even though it doesn't rob an opponent of time to set up like a quicker topspin ball, it also doesn't sit up in an opponent's strike zone where they can whack it like a topspin shot.

Both a slice and a topspin approach are more neutralizing when they're placed deep near the opponent's baseline. No matter what, that forces the other guy to hit his shot from farther away from us as we close the net. Your topspin approach shots that land short look like they put you into even more trouble than a short slice. I'd say use that topspin approach when you can force an opponent scramble and hit on the run. If you have to hit right at him, slice it so that you can get forward. At least that ball will skid and stay low.

One other aside - practice some of those high putaways and exaggerate turning sideways. I think that remaining a little too square to the net is leaving you too prone to "waving" at the ball and those can sail too often (I sometimes do that, too).
 
#20
You should always change things up not always hit to the same spot and the same shot, predictable 101.
I disagree: my foundational idea is to never change a winning strategy. If hammering his BH is winning, I'll keep hammering his BH. I don't care how predictable I am. I'll wear a t-shirt saying "I'm hammering your BH". Just because he knows my strategy doesn't mean he can counter it.

Of course, I'm assuming eventually he'll counter it and only then will I change. Why leave all of those potentially free points on the table just to be unpredictable?
 

FiReFTW

Hall of Fame
#21
I disagree: my foundational idea is to never change a winning strategy. If hammering his BH is winning, I'll keep hammering his BH. I don't care how predictable I am. I'll wear a t-shirt saying "I'm hammering your BH". Just because he knows my strategy doesn't mean he can counter it.

Of course, I'm assuming eventually he'll counter it and only then will I change. Why leave all of those potentially free points on the table just to be unpredictable?
I obviously meant if he can handle both wings and has a decent bh, if his bh is so weak that he makes ton of mistakes then obviously I agree with your idea, but if he can really hit both shots well enough then mixing things up can be a good strategy to throw him off balance.
 
#23
I disagree: my foundational idea is to never change a winning strategy. If hammering his BH is winning, I'll keep hammering his BH. I don't care how predictable I am. I'll wear a t-shirt saying "I'm hammering your BH". Just because he knows my strategy doesn't mean he can counter it.

Of course, I'm assuming eventually he'll counter it and only then will I change. Why leave all of those potentially free points on the table just to be unpredictable?
Agreed. That’s why boxers may keep going to the body even if it doesn’t appear to be hurting the opponent. By the later rounds, the opponent starts to show the effects of all the body blows. Tennis isn’t any different. Even if your opponent is handling his backhands well early in the match doesn’t mean it will continue to hold up as the match wears on. It’s not uncommon to play someone who seemingly can’t miss in the 1st set only to suddenly do a 180 in the 2nd set.
 

FiReFTW

Hall of Fame
#24
Agreed. That’s why boxers may keep going to the body even if it doesn’t appear to be hurting the opponent. By the later rounds, the opponent starts to show the effects of all the body blows. Tennis isn’t any different. Even if your opponent is handling his backhands well early in the match doesn’t mean it will continue to hold up as the match wears on. It’s not uncommon to play someone who seemingly can’t miss in the 1st set only to suddenly do a 180 in the 2nd set.
Yeah but werent we talking more about short balls? Those that you usually finish, I meant more that you should more hit those in the open court based on opponents court position, but then if he starts picking that up and cheating by running there early you should hit behind him and keep him guessing so he doesnt know where its going, I probably didnt explain well earlier.
 
#26
.

I am talking about some short slice shot where you get to it and can only really hit a slice back cross court and find yourself almost at the service line. Moving back seems like a bad option just like coming in so I pick coming in because my net game is better than my baseline game.

If you are in that not so good situation is there some way to make the most out of it like shade one way or the other? I always seem to get passed no matter what I do...
why cant you hit it dtl?
 
#27
At 0:45 I would have considered that a perfect ball to slice down the line. If you were picking it up off your shoelaces halfway into the service box and near the sideline, then crosscourt might be a better option.

If you told me I HAD to hit it crosscourt, I would aim to hit it much closer to the backhand corner than you actually did. My experience has been that any time the opponent can take a step inside the baseline to hit off my approach shot, it's curtains for me. I'd work on punching your approach rather than chopping it so it stays low, lands deep, and skids. You don't need to add as much backspin as you think, because the ball you strike is already spinning the way you want it to--you don't have to change its direction of spin.

Another option is to try to jam into your opponents forehand side by putting your approach shot right at his feet on his forehand side. This takes time away from him and forces him to backpedal--footwork most rec players are terrible at. You'll find your opponent sprays the ball wide or pops it up down the middle for you to smash away. Rarely will they be able to hit a topspin pass behind you while backpedaling. If you can force him to hit a very uncomfortable shot, being out of position won't matter as much.
 
#30
Cross court can work well. BH slice very short and follow in. Inside out FH and follow up works. I generally wouldn't approsd on the FH.
It can work but the reason orthodoxy says to go DTL is if you go CC, you have to move a lot more to reach a neutral position [one where you're equally able to cover both extremes]. In @Shroud's example, he ended up leaving a lot more line open than CC when he was ready to volley.
 
#31
I bet that is the main reason for the vulnerability @Shroud was trying to get answer for. Plus I can also see someone like @Shroud getting unbalanced when trying to take those extra steps needed for the cross court approach (no insult intented, most of us adults are not in our best shape) . When you are unbalanced the volleys seems unreachable.

he ended up leaving a lot more line open than CC when he was ready to volley.
 
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#34
Craig O'Shannessey's statistical analysis shows that approaching to the backhand yields significantly higher numbers of points won, at least at the pro level. He thinks the dtl vs cc argument is misleading.
I've always thought it depends on the opponent. If my opponent has a bad backhand, I'm approaching there every time. But if he can pass me with his backhand, then I'll think about going down the line with my backhand approaches.
 

J011yroger

Talk Tennis Guru
#35
I've always thought it depends on the opponent. If my opponent has a bad backhand, I'm approaching there every time. But if he can pass me with his backhand, then I'll think about going down the line with my backhand approaches.
This is one of those theory vs reality issues.

Like in theory you serve up the middle in dubs to take away the angle and involve your net man. In reality you serve to your opponent's backhand because it sucks.

J
 

Raul_SJ

Hall of Fame
#36
Follow the ball...

Conventional wisdom says to hit (most) approaches DTL.
IIRC, some of the Vic Braden videos emphasized practically always approaching to the rec players backhand corner. That makes sense to me. I feel uneasy approaching DTL and giving it to my opponents forehand. Better to force him to pass me with his backhand...

Just take care, as you mentioned, to follow the ball on your cross court approach to opponents backhand.
 
#37
This is one of those theory vs reality issues.

Like in theory you serve up the middle in dubs to take away the angle and involve your net man. In reality you serve to your opponent's backhand because it sucks.

J
I like the wide serve to the deuce court though too. Because I have a good one, and my opponent usually can't get around on it and ends up hitting it to my partner at net.
 
#38
Check out the point at 38 sec. Thats what I was talking about:

That particular bh, from where you hit it, did not necessarily dictate that you approach. Slices are relatively slow. You had time to retreat to the ad side of the hash.

Bhs that you describe (short side line) should probably be hit slice cc and retreat deep. (Unless you’re fleet of foot.) If they can rip a bh dtl on the rise, you’re screwed. That’s tennis. Otherwise, you’re in pretty good position to handle their return.
 
#39
Slice that ball short and low to the service line in the middle of the service box and close diagonally forward so your left foot is on the center line and you are facing the ball.

J
I get the sense he is doing the only thing he can do because he is under duress for these approaches....almost any choice would be better for him if he could/would do it, right?
 
#46
Looks like Jeff agrees with your approach shot!

I get the idea. Thanks for posting. it's a good bid Only thing is that that target for most players is not going to be a bh. Any decent player will be stepping around to hit fhs so the idea while great doesnt seem like it would work out the way he says.

Will try though. Omg Shroud actually trying something he doesnt think will work....
 
#48
Recently I have been spending hours staring out the window waiting for a pair of old @J011yroger s socks to be delivered and thinking about tennis.

That reminded me of situations where I hit crosscourt shots and approach. I know thats a no no but I do it and it ALWAYS ends in disaster.

To be clear, I am not talking about the scene in Terminator where a list of options to approach appears on the screen:

1. Approach DTL
2. Approach Down The Middle
3. Approach Cross Court

And I pick 3 like its the best reply.

I am talking about some short slice shot where you get to it and can only really hit a slice back cross court and find yourself almost at the service line. Moving back seems like a bad option just like coming in so I pick coming in because my net game is better than my baseline game.

If you are in that not so good situation is there some way to make the most out of it like shade one way or the other? I always seem to get passed no matter what I do...
Hit the ball in front of you, straight toward the line.
 
#49
Think of this:

-If you attack the backhand wing and play percentage baseline tennis, you will likely end up in an ad court crosscourt rally if both of you are right-handed.
-In this scenario, you are far more likely to receive a short, attackable ball during this crosscourt rally, rather than down the line.
-In this scenario, if you refuse to attack the opponent's forehand and instead, attack the backhand, you:
a) don't make the opponent move at all
b) are out of position

It is my opinion that at the rec level, very few players have so much better of a forehand than backhand that you can't still attack it when the situation is in your favor. By attacking into the forehand, you make the opponent move, you are applying psychological pressure by moving into the net, and you are positionally advantaged by being at the net.
 
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