How do you Know When a Style of Play is for You

Dan R

Semi-Pro
After 3 or 4 years of baseline singles I have started to learn to serve and volley, after about 6 months I've learned that there's a lot to learn and I have improved a great deal and I'm still improving, but I'm not nearly as good with it as with my baseline game. That's to be expected I guess, but the problem is that in order to get better at it I have to practice it and not just in practice but in matches too. That means losing some points/games/sets or even matches that I might otherwise be able to win. How/when do you decide that a style of play is really for you or not? How much time do give an experiment before you declare it a failure? How do you decide if something will be full time style of play, or a situational strategy, or something in between?
 

WestboroChe

Hall of Fame
I think if you’re serious about tennis learning serve and volley other than as a change of tactics is probably a dead end. Tennis at any competitive level is marked by ridiculous looping shots and amazing defense which would make an old school SV players have nightmares.

That said if you’re just a rec player you can be pretty successful with any style of game as long as you are consistent and can move well. Regardless of the outcome of the match the questions to answer are.

Do you enjoy playing like that?
Do other people ask you to play often?
Are you competitive?
 

Wise one

Hall of Fame
Just do it every time, regardless of the outcome. Eventually it will pay off and you'll beat those baseline cowards. Don't be afraid to lose for a while!
 

Wise one

Hall of Fame
I think if you’re serious about tennis learning serve and volley other than as a change of tactics is probably a dead end. Tennis at any competitive level is marked by ridiculous looping shots and amazing defense which would make an old school SV players have nightmares.

That said if you’re just a rec player you can be pretty successful with any style of game as long as you are consistent and can move well. Regardless of the outcome of the match the questions to answer are.

Do you enjoy playing like that?
Do other people ask you to play often?
Are you competitive?
You don't know what you are talking about.
 

Dan R

Semi-Pro
Just do it every time, regardless of the outcome. Eventually it will pay off and you'll beat those baseline cowards. Don't be afraid to lose for a while!
Yes, you have to be willing to lose when you do anything new, doubly so with SV since even when you do it well you take a lot of lumps. I love the style and to me there’s nothing more satisfying than a well executed one two SV point. But I think it’s always going to be a situational play I’m not sure I’ll ever be better at it than baseline, but I suppose it can still be effective.
 

34n

Rookie
But I think it’s always going to be a situational play I’m not sure I’ll ever be better at it than baseline, but I suppose it can still be effective.
It is always situational. If you practice volleying more you will transition toward all court game. ( As an "old school sv" I also transitioned to the all court game ).
See the match below. A great and entertaining example of the all court tennis with all of the technical elements in it.

 

toth

Semi-Pro
I think the ideal solution would be if you could be play practise matches, where the does not count, but as i know, it is not easy to find tennis practise partners..
 

OnTheLine

Hall of Fame
Your question was how do you find a play style that is for you ..... as a rec player I think it just comes down to where you find the most joy or pleasure .... with joy success usually follows.

I can play a very decent baseline game ... but I do not enjoy it. I begin becoming tense and tight and with tension errors start coming in.

These days, I play I guess an all-court game ... I am patient at baseline until I get a short ball, approach and come in aggressively. Against a weak returner I will serve and volley as I have a great mid-court overhead / swing-volley, but don't have the confidence to solely S&V.

Playing only baseline I can walk away from a won match and feel unhappy about how I played, and muttering about how much I hate singles. Playing a more all-court game even after a loss I still enjoyed the match.
 

Dan R

Semi-Pro
Your question was how do you find a play style that is for you ..... as a rec player I think it just comes down to where you find the most joy or pleasure .... with joy success usually follows.

I can play a very decent baseline game ... but I do not enjoy it. I begin becoming tense and tight and with tension errors start coming in.

These days, I play I guess an all-court game ... I am patient at baseline until I get a short ball, approach and come in aggressively. Against a weak returner I will serve and volley as I have a great mid-court overhead / swing-volley, but don't have the confidence to solely S&V.

Playing only baseline I can walk away from a won match and feel unhappy about how I played, and muttering about how much I hate singles. Playing a more all-court game even after a loss I still enjoyed the match.
I love SV, or I wouldn't have stuck with it this long. I like to play aggressively, probably too much so, and nothing is more aggressive than SV. Also, I've learned there are a lot of benefits from learning it even when not playing that style. Like it improves your serve, anticipating the return, half volleys, and overheads. So, it's beneficial to an all around game even if you don't use it all the time.
 
I think a lot of players have an aggressive mindset. We attack balls that look easy and sometimes that works against us. I found playing a net-oriented game satisfied my aggressive mindset but also minimized my groundstroke errors. I started thinking in two or three shot combinations rather than all or nothing blasts.

Overall, I think your personality and your abilities (you have to be very honest with yourself here) will dictate best what style is effective and satisfying for you.
 

Enga

Hall of Fame
You develop a style when you find something that works really well. I don't really think it's important to learn a style though, it's maybe overrated. It's best to learn the fundamentals and try to learn a lot of variety, until the point when you have learned to the best of your abilities, then you will find what you are excellent at, which I think is something that can take a long time. I think people just do what they like to do until then.
 

ByeByePoly

G.O.A.T.
Rec tennis is for fun ... if you enjoy a style the improving will also be fun.

From a "winning percentage" standpoint it is player specific. I moved from middle of the pack at my tournament level to top simply by changing to s&v when I was mid-20s. But I was a good candidate ... steady from baseline but without 1st strike pace, fast and agile with "good enough singles volley", a rock solid overhead. I already had deuce wide slice serve, and a kicker wide ad. Also ... s&v all the time vs occasionally/surprise ... is two different animals. If you see a path to being very hard to break when you s&v pretty much 100% ... then stick with it. For me, s&v and c&c was my way to introduce offense in a tournament match that I could not any other way (other than moving opponent around from baseline, and occasional 1st serve ace/winner). Introducing offense in rec tennis can be priceless ... always amazed at the level of player good s&v can work against. Constant net pressure is a biaaatch. I also played against baseliners that were so good there they would have been nuts to add any net other than go finish the point they already won the hit before. I have also seen very fast agile players that just could not volley ... and would never be good enough for 100% s&v ... but improved their winning percentage by mixing s&v in.

How is your overhead? You are a dead man serving and volleying if your overhead is suspect.

Edit: changing your title to "how do you know you are a s&v player" ... the answer is you are beating players you would not likely beat from the baseline.
 
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J011yroger

Talk Tennis Guru
First learn how to do everything, then decide how you want to play.

You can't volley, so work on your net game until you can play the net, then decide how much you want to come in.

J
 

thehustler

Semi-Pro
You need to know yourself first. How's your serve? How's your volley? How are your groundstrokes? Are you fast? Slow? What's your personality like? Are you an aggressive person who likes to attack or are you someone who likes to sit back and wait for mistakes from your opponent? Are you comfortable playing as one kind of style all the time, or are you looking to mix it up? Do you struggle with heat? With cold? Do you have good conditioning? Tire out early?

I know when my serve is on I like to attack. I will try and come to the net more and end points early to try and conserve energy. If I'm not feeling it I'll stay back a little more, just to get the confidence built so I can try and attack more, but that's also been my default game for years as I feel like I can dictate rather well from the back of the court. I do like to be patient at times and watch my opponent make mistakes as it can hurt their confidence, but sometimes I just feel like I can go out there and smack enough winners to keep their confidence down even more. I know if I'm too conservative I'll struggle to win points at times so it's important for me to play smart attacking tennis. I'd say in my evolution I've gone from a counter-puncher/retriever to an all court player. I think the best style really is all court since it gives you so many options and forces your opponent to think a little more. If you can S&V on some random points it can mess with their return. If you can hold your own from the baseline it might force them into the net, where they might not be comfortable and if you have a good passing shot makes it all the better for you.
 

movdqa

Talk Tennis Guru
I learned it in the 1980s and 1990s but I don't use it that often anymore because the ground game has gotten a lot better.

So when do you use it? Situations where nothing else is working. Or you want to go for the element of surprise. Or if you're playing on an unusually fast surface.

Or if you find someone that doesn't know how to deal with someone at the net.

And, of course, doubles. If you want more practice on execution, play more doubles. It won't help you that much tactically in singles but it helps to keep the strokes and idea in your muscle memory.

So I'm basically a baseliner these days. If I get a short ball, I have no problems hitting it and coming in. I rarely serve and volley in singles though.
 

Dan R

Semi-Pro
Rec tennis is for fun ... if you enjoy a style the improving will also be fun.

From a "winning percentage" standpoint it is player specific. I moved from middle of the pack at my tournament level to top simply by changing to s&v when I was mid-20s. But I was a good candidate ... steady from baseline but without 1st strike pace, fast and agile with "good enough singles volley", a rock solid overhead. I already had deuce wide slice serve, and a kicker wide ad. Also ... s&v all the time vs occasionally/surprise ... is two different animals. If you see a path to being very hard to break when you s&v pretty much 100% ... then stick with it. For me, s&v and c&c was my way to introduce offense in a tournament match that I could not any other way (other than moving opponent around from baseline, and occasional 1st serve ace/winner). Introducing offense in rec tennis can be priceless ... always amazed at the level of player good s&v can work against. Constant net pressure is a biaaatch. I also played against baseliners that were so good there they would have been nuts to add any net other than go finish the point they already won the hit before. I have also seen very fast agile players that just could not volley ... and would never be good enough for 100% s&v ... but improved their winning percentage by mixing s&v in.

How is your overhead? You are a dead man serving and volleying if your overhead is suspect.

Edit: changing your title to "how do you know you are a s&v player" ... the answer is you are beating players you would not likely beat from the baseline.
I don't think I'm going to be a full time SV player, but depending on who I'm playing it might be up to 50-60% of the time at the most. I'm not including in that the fake serve and volley points, where if some one is returning at my feet I'll come in a step or two and stop and then take the return as an approach shot rather than a shoe top volley. I think learning that style of play has benefits even when you stay back. So it's been a worthwhile experience. The only problem with part time SV is that you do have to practice it to be effective.

I have to be careful though, if I'm not thinking I will just come in without intending to. You just get in the that mode and it's hard to stop sometimes.
 

Dan R

Semi-Pro
I learned it in the 1980s and 1990s but I don't use it that often anymore because the ground game has gotten a lot better.

So when do you use it? Situations where nothing else is working. Or you want to go for the element of surprise. Or if you're playing on an unusually fast surface.

Or if you find someone that doesn't know how to deal with someone at the net.

And, of course, doubles. If you want more practice on execution, play more doubles. It won't help you that much tactically in singles but it helps to keep the strokes and idea in your muscle memory.

So I'm basically a baseliner these days. If I get a short ball, I have no problems hitting it and coming in. I rarely serve and volley in singles though.
I'm not a doubles guy, and I know people say that it will improve your singles (McEnroe says that all the time), but for me if I have the option to play I'm going to try and play singles. I don't know why so many people don't like to play singles?
 

thehustler

Semi-Pro
I'm not a doubles guy, and I know people say that it will improve your singles (McEnroe says that all the time), but for me if I have the option to play I'm going to try and play singles. I don't know why so many people don't like to play singles?
I think most people claim it's because doubles is a 'social game' where singles isn't. I've chatted with my opponents in singles, during warmups at times and on changeovers. Doubles also gives you an opportunity to say 'my partner sucked' to take the heat off of you, especially if you were setting them up. Singles it's you and the opponent. Nobody to blame but yourself if you stink up the joint or if your opponent was just too good. Seems like a lot of people don't want that and find it easier to point the finger elsewhere.
 

movdqa

Talk Tennis Guru
I'm not a doubles guy, and I know people say that it will improve your singles (McEnroe says that all the time), but for me if I have the option to play I'm going to try and play singles. I don't know why so many people don't like to play singles?
It takes Fitness to play singles.
 

Dan R

Semi-Pro
It takes Fitness to play singles.
Yes, and I think it's more stressful to a lot of people - they feel more comfortable with a partner so they are not responsible for every single thing that happens. In the beginning I use to feel that twinge of panic when I had to play singles, but now I feel that twinge of disappointment when I have to play doubles.
 

ByeByePoly

G.O.A.T.
I don't think I'm going to be a full time SV player, but depending on who I'm playing it might be up to 50-60% of the time at the most. I'm not including in that the fake serve and volley points, where if some one is returning at my feet I'll come in a step or two and stop and then take the return as an approach shot rather than a shoe top volley. I think learning that style of play has benefits even when you stay back. So it's been a worthwhile experience. The only problem with part time SV is that you do have to practice it to be effective.

I have to be careful though, if I'm not thinking I will just come in without intending to. You just get in the that mode and it's hard to stop sometimes.
Yeah ... it's a big difference between 100% kamikaze and the changeup. If the goal is mix it in dependent on opponent, I would work on mixing in approaches during rallies at same time (off good fh, chip and charge, etc). I think the vast majority of rec players enhance their game by having the option to finish at the net.

I'm sitting here laughing thinking about a tournament match where I "thought too much" about changing it up. I was playing a guy (singles) that I had never played before, but he was a highly ranked doubles player. I had seen him play doubles, and already knew he had good strokes from the baseline. BUT ... dude was carrying too much weight ... and it was hot as hell ... and I convinced myself I should stay back and run him in the heat. Keep in mind, I was already pretty much s&v all the time at this point (several years), and this was something like a quarterfinals where I had s&v every match getting there. I was down 3-0 so fast I didn't know what hit me. I wasn't running him anywhere ... the opposite. Dropped that "thinking" thing that match, and the rest of the tournament. Win or lose ... it's one thing the 100% kamikaze s&v player has going for them in pressure situations ... no plan B ... clears the mind.
 

Wise one

Hall of Fame
I have been playing S/V exclusively for so long I would be clueless what to do if I stayed back. It's second nature.
 
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