Deep floating balls - what is the statistically correct play?

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by Booger, Jul 6, 2018.

  1. Booger

    Booger Hall of Fame

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    Villain: 5.0. Former college player, two handed backhand, fit as a fiddle. No problem with 20 shot rallies and 2+ hour matches. Can finish a weak short ball, but not a ton of offense.

    Setup: I am aggressive and will dictate from the baseline most points. Every time I pull him wide and really open up the court - he throws up a floater to get back to neutral.

    I feel like I'm letting him off easy if I don't attack this ball, but it's not a comfortable spot. What is the correct play(s)?

    1. Rip a fed-like swinging volley winner (my favorite, but success rate is not so good)
    2. Let it bounce, take it on the rise and look to move in (this is what I do most of the time)
    3. Retreat, hit a deep looping topspin shot to try to keep him out of position, wait for a short ball
    4. Other?
     
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  2. golden chicken

    golden chicken Semi-Pro

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    Just hit a regular volley?
     
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  3. CornOnTheCob

    CornOnTheCob New User

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    I had this trouble a lot in high school as I always looked to end points by ripping an absolute winner and fist pumping like Rafa. This lead to a lot of easy balls missed or overswinging a LOT. As I learned to structure points a little better and after a lot of trial and error, I realized that there isn't exactly a clear answer as to where and how to hit those floaters.

    1)If I'm not feeling confident in my strokes, I'll do my best to just return a solid ball. Depending on the ball and movement of the opponent, I'll either hit back to the same side that I pulled them out wide or to the opposite corner.

    2)I started to play more and more doubles and have more confidence in my net ability. Anytime I had any sort of advantage, I would look to come in and hit a solid (not swinging) volley. Again this would be either to the same side or opposite corner. Volleying inherently takes time away from them to recover, and often causes the other player to either commit to recovering hard to one side or just stopping, so a swinging volley is mostly overkill. But when I was really feeling saucy, my drop volleys were pretty magnificent if I do say so myself.

    Ultimately, I stopped trying to win points outright with a winner or spectacular shot. I was pretty good at grinding and just getting balls back in play, so more often than not, I just stuck to the mantra of "make them hit move and hit one more ball".
     
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  4. r2473

    r2473 G.O.A.T.

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    This is my favorite play. It works. I can tell you what happens in my matches:

    1) Most guys do just what you are doing. Nothing. So I can feel free to do this all day. I take no risk. I keep you back by the baseline (where you can't really hurt me). Eventually you get impatient and pull the trigger from back there and make an error. Easy point for me.

    2) Some guys try to rip the swinging volley winner. Almost a guarantee they'll make more errors than hit winners. Again, easy point for me. This is the pattern I like the most

    3) Hit some form of attacking ball. Maybe a traditional volley. Maybe let it bounce, take it on the rise, and move in. On this play, most guys will just outright make an error on the first ball. The next most common thing is for them to hit the shot, but not with enough "intent" (pace, direction, or both) to do any damage. Now they are out of position, and I have my choice between hitting a lob or a passing shot. Either way, it's a pattern I like.

    So what's the solution. Well, you have to do one of these things for the scenario you describe. And if you aren't good enough to execute, it's a losing pattern.

    So, I'd suggest that you stop using the pattern. Think about it like playing a pusher. Just because you can hit hard or can hit an angle against a pusher, doesn't mean you ought to. You only should if you can take advantage of that pattern. For example, yesterday I played a pure counter puncher. Give him pace and he redirects it into tough spots. Open up angles and he uses them against you. So my solution was to hit "arc balls" down the middle. Over and over and over. First set I won 7-5. Second set HE got impatient and started to try to do something with my arc balls from the baseline in the middle of the court. He made a lot of errors. I won that set 6-2. I knew I had him when I won the first game of the second set on his serve at love, mostly because of his errors. I commented on the changeover that he was making more errors (we know each other, it's fine for me to say this). He said he was getting tired and was trying to end point a little quicker (translation: he was mentally defeated and was quasi-tanking).

    Funny thing was, whenever I hit "good" shots (pace, angle, lots of spin), I almost always lost that point. It just gave this particular opponent a ball he like to work with. What he didn't like to work with was medium-slow "arc balls" in the middle of the court. It gave him no pace to redirect, it gave him no angle to work with, and it always gave me time to recover to a balanced position to await his reply (one of my problems with hitting hard is that I simply don't recover fast enough, so a slower pace ball just give me more time).

    I'm not sure what to tell you. It just sounds like a terrible pattern for you in this matchup.
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2018
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  5. S&V-not_dead_yet

    S&V-not_dead_yet Legend

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    What do you mean by "statistically correct"?

    - The shot with the highest % of going in?
    - The shot with the highest % of winning the point?
    - Something else?

    The answer may not be appropriate if it's not something you practice or are comfortable with?
     
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  6. StringSnapper

    StringSnapper Professional

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    He needs to get the girl from his avatar to stand on the side of the court to tempt the 5.0 villain into hitting blazing winners to impress, meanwhile he does topspin lobs down the middle of the court.
     
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  7. Booger

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    Looking to win the point.
     
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  8. Steady Eddy

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    Sounds like you need to be patient. It might seem like he'll never give you a short ball. But if you wait long enough, you'll get your chances.

    Don't get impatient. That's what he's counting on.
     
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  9. S&V-not_dead_yet

    S&V-not_dead_yet Legend

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    Some kind of volley, whether it be regular or swinging [depending on your comfort level]: something to take away time from your opponent. Otherwise, he has the luxury of scooting back to neutral and you have to be the risk-taker. By coming in, you challenge him to hit a good passing shot [how's your net game and OHs?].

    Also, how early are you recognizing that your shot will result in a weaker, floaty reply? I'm great at standing there admiring my shot and only later thinking "D'oh! I should have followed it in!". I'm practicing my early recognition and moving in. Then I might be able to hit a regular volley [low risk] from the SL or nearer rather than a swinging volley halfway between the SL and BL.
     
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  10. travlerajm

    travlerajm Legend

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    Your description of opponent sounds like me. When did we last play?
     
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  11. Booger

    Booger Hall of Fame

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    I squeaked by you in 3 last week, but I think this guy was using an APD.
     
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  12. travlerajm

    travlerajm Legend

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    Ok not me then.

    But I do like to play low risk tennis and bait my opponent into attempting high risk approaches off balls with high vertical velocity or below the net slices. The type of opponent that gives me trouble is the one who is very aggressive at taking the high ball out of the air with slice volley approach. I love playing guys who let the ball bounce.

    I also love to sneak in to net behind my own moonballs if I see my opponent start to back up behind the baseline. This is the most underutilized low risk attack tactic in tennis. Much lower risk to execute successfully than the ‘regular’ style approaches that a good counterpuncher like me can easily counter from baseline with a dipper or laser pass thanks to modern equipment.
     
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2018
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  13. RetroSpin

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    You'll be in for a long day against a good player if you let him reset the point every time you get the upper hand.
     
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  14. Curious

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    Go for a winner, hit the net and finish the point. That's what I usually do.
     
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  15. Morch Us

    Morch Us Semi-Pro

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    First of all, you need to have the courage and patience to accept the fact that sometimes the ball is really back to neutral, and start working on the point again gradually to offence. It is actually a skill to accept offence-> neutral, and then willingness to hard work and turn it around to offence->neutral->offence (instead of offence->neutral->error/low-percentage-winner).

    Now that being said, you can work on the skills to come back to offence as soon as possible on these deep floats, and gain confidence.Concentrate on placement and not pace on these. Slice overhead before or after bounce, loopy groundstroke after bounce, controlled swing volley are good options. On the rise is probably not a good idea if the incoming ball does not have much forward movement or topspin on it, making it harder to time and have a shot with something on it on the rise.

    It is when you don't accept that the ball is back to neutral, you try to do more with it and make unnecessary errors. Even though it is back to neutral, you still have slight edge on the rally, and just need to keep that edge, and work from there.


     
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  16. S&V-not_dead_yet

    S&V-not_dead_yet Legend

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    As I get more experienced, I'm learning to accept neutral rather than pushing too hard and going for a lower % shot. Good observation.
     
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  17. mad dog1

    mad dog1 Legend

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    You aren’t playing against 5.0 players though.
     
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  18. 34n

    34n Rookie

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    With my partner we practice net play with 3 shots. ( we also compete with guys we cant outrun playing the baseline)
    First volley taken around service line out of the strike zone ( low or high) played low
    Second a few steps forward played deep and low
    Third is a putaway

    Video of our recent drill



    Doubles on my opinion will not improve singles net play because in doubles you are already at the net and the most difficult part is passing the center with the first volley
     
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  19. travlerajm

    travlerajm Legend

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    I think he meant he goes for a winner and hits the ball into the net to finish the point?
     
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  20. mad dog1

    mad dog1 Legend

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    Yeah, I know what he meant. And he can do it and get away with it cuz he’s playing 3.5s.
     
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  21. travlerajm

    travlerajm Legend

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    But if he "hits the net", it means he finishes the point by losing it. That's easy to do at any level.
     
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  22. Curious

    Curious Hall of Fame

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    The first time I havent put a smiley face and caused a chaos!:):D:)
     
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  23. mad dog1

    mad dog1 Legend

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    Yes, there’s plenty of video proof of @Curious doing this! :D
     
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  24. Curious

    Curious Hall of Fame

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    The good thing about it is that it keeps me in touch with reality.
     
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  25. S&V-not_dead_yet

    S&V-not_dead_yet Legend

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    You're only considering the net man: the server who plays S&V or C&C is getting experience that's valuable in singles also.

    Even experience you get as the net man is valuable in singles because some of the shots you see in doubles you'll also run into in doubles.
     
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  26. 3loudboys

    3loudboys Rookie

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    One take on this is to hit the drive volley and take on the shot. Even if you miss you send the villain a message that floaters are risky and provide you with an opportunity to attack. You take a key neutralising strat away from him and his recovery time.

    It won’t always be successful but sometimes the message or intent can be enough. My son plays U12’s and the defensive floater is used extensively and he uses the drive volley or smash to good effect.

    Good luck with it.


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  27. Morch Us

    Morch Us Semi-Pro

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    Not really. I look at it this way

    1. Before the "floater", villain was clearly at extreme defense, so lets say chance of him winning the point less than 10% (1 out of 10). Or chance of him losing the point 9/10.

    2. After the "floater". Is his percentage anything better than 10%, if yes he did neutralized at least some of it. Accept it, and dont play like you are still at 90% chance. Lets say he just want to get back at 30%, so you still are at an advantage of 70%.

    3. Is the drive volley you are hitting better than 7/10 ? If you are going for an outright winner, to send a message, I doubt that you wont miss more than 3 out of 10. In that case you are sending a wrong message, that hei villain, you increased your percentage of winning that point from 30% to 50% or more just from my stupidity. Frankly I don't think he will mind losing the point which he already should have lost. But also getting some bonus errors from you a lot more than he expected.

    It is not a time to go for a low percentage shot, when you are still in control of the rally (even though a bit less than one shot before).

    I am not saying that you should do nothing with the ball, and let him back to 50%, but be aware of the difficulty and try to increase your percetage of winning that rally from 70% to 75%, in the first two shots, small increments... not big increments. Going for big increment is a mistake, especially if you had not been specifically practising for those shots a lot (making it a high percentage choice).

    Even keeping it at 70% constantly is also OK, since you will gain advantage for future rallies. (and hei... you may still lose that point 3 out of 10 times... but nothing to worry).


     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2018
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  28. J011yroger

    J011yroger G.O.A.T.

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    The answer is to swing volley.

    You only have to do it a couple of times and he will quit the loopy reset. But you have to prove you can do it.

    If you can't, you are in for a long miserable day.

    Same with overheads, you should only have to hit a couple in a match to prove you can then they will stop lobbing.

    J
     
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  29. J011yroger

    J011yroger G.O.A.T.

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    My coach does a drill with me where I stand inside the baseline and he stands halfway between my service line and the net and spikes the ball into the ground and if it's high I hit an overhead and if it's lower I swing volley.

    I hate that drill and I suck at it but he says I have to immediately end the point when they start with any sort of loopy ********.

    J
     
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  30. 3loudboys

    3loudboys Rookie

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    Not sure that we can clearly say the villain was on extreme defence and to be honest am a little lost in the assumed percentages. Take your point that some situations are better than others.




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  31. 3loudboys

    3loudboys Rookie

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    It’s a very useful drill and completely agree that should attack the floater. Generally the grinder at the back of the court who continuously loops, floats and jacks is better at that game style than you. I personally can’t stand that type of player but respect their ability to wind you up and create errors. Nothing more satisfying can smacking it back down their throat.


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  32. Morch Us

    Morch Us Semi-Pro

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    Agreed, I assumed too many things above. So in a way you are right. Just like everything in tennis, what you do in that point is situational.

     
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  33. Morch Us

    Morch Us Semi-Pro

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    And doing it without a mistake 9 out of 10 times, definitely will kill his confidence.
     
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  34. Morch Us

    Morch Us Semi-Pro

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    Yea the percentage games are natural to some, but to be taught to some others. You may be the first category. To add a bit more confusion to the percentage numbers, think about the below questions, which is still related to the topic.

    The percentages below are the chance of winning the point (who is in control of the rally), and you are always trying to increase this percentage during the course of a rally, whether you are in defence or offence or neutral.

    1. Going from 10% to 20%
    2. Going from 20% to 30%
    3. Going from 30% to 40%
    4. Going from 50% to 60%
    5. Going from 60% to 70%
    6. Going from 70% to 80%
    7. Going from 80% to 90%
    8. Going from 10% to 50% (extreme defense to exact neutral?)
    9. Going from 10% to 90% (extreme defense to extreme offense?)
    10. Going from 50% to 90% (exact neutral to extreme offense?)

    Obviously not all of the above are same effort, some of them take more effort than others.
    For your tennis game, what is the right order of effort for the above scenarios?

    This is infact an interesting question to every tennis player who is interested in the percentage game, and in the neutral/offense/defense situations of a rally, and to work on the point.

    Hope I made at least some of you think a bit (even though it is confusing to some).

     
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  35. Goof

    Goof New User

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    It depends on your game. I'm a strong, short guy with an extreme western grip who can run and swing all day, so I'd "Nadal it" and do #3 myself, making sure I hit my loopy shots harder and with more spin than his so that he can't take it out of the air himself or take it on the rise without added risk, and I'd try to win a war of attrition at that game until I get something short to attack or my opponent loses patience and tries to hit a shot he shouldn't.

    The "ideal" play would probably be your #1, but you have to know your game well enough to use what you can do best in those situations. It's not the same for everyone.
     
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  36. 3loudboys

    3loudboys Rookie

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    I see what you are saying in that every player should try and make the play that best increases their chance of winning the point - 100% agreed. So many factors involved in match situations that max your chances for success. In reference to this topic the quality of the floater will affect the decision to step in and drive the volley back. Understanding game situations and experience of playing them are the best ways of maximising your chance for success IMO.


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  37. Goof

    Goof New User

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    I should add that if you're strong enough, 2 and 3 aren't mutually exclusive. You can hit loopy topspin back without retreating to do so (in fact, I think it's easier for me personally to do so when taking the ball on the rise).
     
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  38. Booger

    Booger Hall of Fame

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    I played another one of these guys tonight, someone who has beaten me in the past. I got pushed back and neutralized early, but stumbled to an early 3-2 lead. Made at least 5-6 UE's trying to keep him pinned in the corners. Seemed like every point was a 20 ball rally. I figured enough is enough, and the player I want to be should be able to hit this guy off the court.

    So I went for it. I ripped the next half dozen floaters out of the air. IIRC, I hit 3 winners, missed 2 long, and got an easy putaway volley off the last one. To my surprise, villain got rattled. He left balls short, sprayed wide trying too hard to get to my backhand, and opted to try running winners instead of floating everything. After that, everything opened up for me and I won the last 9 games. I think I'm going to stick with this strat for now.
     
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  39. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    Learn to take it out of the air better. It is easy if you are good and you sound pretty good. Just Train to do it and you will level up for your trouble.
     
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  40. 3loudboys

    3loudboys Rookie

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    Nicely done - all about problem solving.


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  41. Chadillac

    Chadillac Legend

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    Why would you miss long? Your previous shot was deep, why go deep-deep when you can go deep-short. Use the courts full dimensions. Doesnt have to spin over the net, just make it cross the side line (like a good slice/kick serve). Double bounce before the baseline is all you need if the approach pushed back, nothing special, you already won the pt, just finish it
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2018
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  42. J011yroger

    J011yroger G.O.A.T.

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    Thank God for me!

    J
     
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  43. TimeToPlaySets

    TimeToPlaySets Legend

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    If your approach shot is regularly being returned with attacking lobs,
    does that mean your approach is not good enough?
    When you hit an approach, they should barely be getting it back.
    But, I agree the approach should not be an outright crushed winner.
     
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  44. moonballs

    moonballs Hall of Fame

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    Any good tips or video on how to hit swing valley from just inside the baseline? My swing offer result in off center or framing.
     
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  45. Envy

    Envy New User

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    I find that overhitting and thinking of winners everytime Im presented with a floating ball is detrimental for me winning a match. I get tired easily and although it works sometimes,,, I tend to make alot of errors in the process. Best thing to do is #3 neutralize with spin, hit a deep ball and wait for a short ball thats with in your strike zone.
     
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  46. J011yroger

    J011yroger G.O.A.T.

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    High take back and don't drop the racquet.

    J
     
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  47. TimeToPlaySets

    TimeToPlaySets Legend

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    For whatever reason, they are inclined to go into the bottom of the net.
    When I take a swinging volley, I try to do massive topspin, and even still sometimes don't clear the net.
    Blocking it back is also an option
     
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  48. J011yroger

    J011yroger G.O.A.T.

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    OP please disregard this message.

    J
     
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  49. 34n

    34n Rookie

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    OP, may be this will help. Not exactly a volley but dealing with floating balls

     
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  50. S&V-not_dead_yet

    S&V-not_dead_yet Legend

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    That's one approach [no pun intended]. But that will severely limit your chances of coming to the net.

    Another way is to hit a reasonable approach and challenge them to pass you. This means you'll get to the net a lot more because you won't have to wait for the near-perfect opportunity and you still might win a good chunk of the points because your opponent can't reliably pass you.

    I'm in the latter camp although I recognize when my opponent is good enough that it won't work.

    You might be surprised how effective this can be: I lost a 3rd set TB 8-10 to a guy who looks like he'll get bumped to 5.0 at year-end and I used this concept to good effect. On the flilp side, I got double-breadsticked by another high 4.5 who dismantled my net game.
     
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