If more than 75% of rec tennis is doubles...

Mongolmike

Hall of Fame
Possible reasons-

Many people took up tennis late in life and ground strokes are often practiced much more than volleys.

Reaction time not as good as when younger, making it harder to be technically correct on volleys hit against shots with more pace (due to improvements in equipment and strings).

Serve and volley play is not "a thing" anymore, so most people emulate the baseline game they see most pros playing.
 

Chalkdust

New User
That's not my experience. At least not when talking about older (40+) 4.0 - 4.5 level men. Many of the guys I know started tennis later in life and have horrible looking ground strokes with bad mechanics. They would get killed in singles. But are competitive within level at dubs because of good reactions and hand eye coordination that allow them to be active at net and be competitive that way.
 

CHtennis

Rookie
This is a good question. I feel like it is because of how we practice. We view playing tennis as hitting groundstrokes back and forth. You would have to make a concerted effort to find someone that would be ok with hitting reflex volleys (or just volleys I guess) for an hour, but many many people will just hit groundstrokes back and forth for an hour. I have known many people that just want to "hit", and by this they mean hit groundstrokes.

Just a theory but this matches up with my experience as well that most people are not the best at volleying.
 

Heck

Rookie
This is a good question. I feel like it is because of how we practice. We view playing tennis as hitting groundstrokes back and forth. You would have to make a concerted effort to find someone that would be ok with hitting reflex volleys (or just volleys I guess) for an hour, but many many people will just hit groundstrokes back and forth for an hour. I have known many people that just want to "hit", and by this they mean hit groundstrokes.

Just a theory but this matches up with my experience as well that most people are not the best at volleying.
I agree. It's hard to even get the guys to hit crosscourt. I have only a few players from my teams that are willing to practice with drills and spend time on other shots than just baseline rally balls.
Then they wonder why they lose in doubles.
 
While I'm not sure I agree with the magnitude of the issue (I think I know more than 5 people with better volleys than groundstrokes, almost all women though...and not really that they have great volleys but just get their racquet on everything near them so are more effective than at baseline), I agree in general volley skills are poor considering the amount of doubles league matches available vs. singles (myself included).

I can think of a few reasons:
1 - We practice groundstrokes more - in most clinics and drills more time is spent on groundstrokes. Also, if you go and hit with someone, how much time do you spend on volleys (either volley to volley at the net or volley to baseliner)?
2- When we do practice volleys, they tend to be cooperative. For example, warming up volley to volley or volley to baseline, you're trying to keep it going, not drill it at the other person or angle it away.
3 - My volleys in practice are usually a lot better than in a match - something to do with nerves/adrenaline. This doesn't happen as much on groundstrokes because there's more time to control my reaction to the ball coming my way.
4 - A lot of singles players play doubles because there's more league opportunities for it (mixed, combo, combo mixed, tri-level). Conversely, doubles players don't usually play singles if they don't want to. So if you figure half of the people playing doubles are singles-focused, they probably don't have great volleys or net positioning because that's not what they're most interested in improving.
5 - Influence of what's on TV - what's the ratio of air time on tennis channel for singles vs. doubles? People see lots of singles, which are predominantly baseline exchanges, so that's what they go and practice (per #1 above). I for one would like to see more doubles coverage, including mixed and college-level play.
 
I learned competitive tennis backwards. I was crashing the net on every point in high school by necessity if I wanted to win matches because I lacked a functional groundstroke on one wing.

Parts of my net game - offensive volleys, forward closing speed, overhead footwork, got way ahead of my groundstrokes. But I was using self-taught volley techniques at the time (Eastern forehand volley grip and 2hb volley) that I abandoned several years later after getting nagged by teaching pros watching me play.
 

FiReFTW

Legend
Because almost nobody practices volleys alot, forget up to 5.5, even on the pro tour.. sure those people volley alot better than any of us, they are pros afterall, but compared to that high level standard, such as old school players and people like Federer, Nadal etc... most pro ATP and WTA players volleys are sh*t, Federer even mentioned it once, that nobody practices volleys alot anymore, and he always practiced alot of volleys as other shots, not only baseline shots.
 

J011yroger

Talk Tennis Guru
How many of those USTA players are showing up to play with Nicolas Mahut autographed tennis bags and rushing home to watch Horacio Zeballos on tv?
I'm confused at your comment.

I'm saying professional doubles players work on and have excellent volleys while rec players don't.

Are you saying it's because rec players are fans of the singles game even though they play doubles, or are you just word vomiting because you want to hear yourself talk?

J
 

Dartagnan64

Legend
There are several "doubles" skills that many rec doubles players seem hopeless at. Volleys, Half volleys, Overheads, Serves down the T, Hitting low over the net, dipping groundstrokes. When they go out for a "hit", they just hit standard groundstrokes. Rarely serve. Never practice volleys. It's like a golfer going the driving range and only hitting a 7 iron.

My wife and I have progressed quite a lot in our doubles play but we have a practice routine that emphasizes doubles play:
1) some CC mini tennis to get a bit warmed up
2) CC baseline strokes both sides for 5-10 min
3) volley practice 5-10 min
4) overhead/lob practice 5-10 min
5) 1 set singles play
6) 1 set one on one doubles play (half court cross court play)

We do this 3-4x per week. Really has helped hone the doubles skills as we are working on CC groundstrokes, volleys, overheads, lobs, serves.
 

tonylg

Professional
A lot of USTA players don't watch the pros at all, yet their net games still suck
Do they practice at the net?

I hit for about 90 minutes last night with a mate. We started off as we typically do, both up at the net gently volleying to each other. Then some cross court groundstroke drills. After that, some killer drills where it's approach off a short ball and volley into a designated corner. Once at net the other will feed more balls, plus overheads. Serve and return as a bit of a rest, then a few breakers to finish. Our breakers are played to 21 - one point for ball hit out, 2 for into net or double fault, 3 for a clean winner or 5 if you end the point with a volley.

The two different groups next to us just hit from the baseline. Nothing else, which I think is "normal".
 
In my 30s and 40s, I got into the habit of playing baseline games to 11 a lot with my friends. My ability to win baseline games improved, but my net game atrophied.
 

tonylg

Professional
The other thing I generally see is people only practicing volley with their noses hanging over the net. Often this is with coaches. Any idiot can make a volley from there. You practice volleys from on or just inside the service line if you want to actually get good at it.
 

Mongolmike

Hall of Fame
The other thing I generally see is people only practicing volley with their noses hanging over the net. Often this is with coaches. Any idiot can make a volley from there. You practice volleys from on or just inside the service line if you want to actually get good at it.
When I drag out my ball machine, I hit more volleys than groundstrokes, including short bounces or balls at my ankles while standing on the service line. They are shots I sometimes face in matches, so why not?
 
Why do the majority of USTA players have such weak volleys compared to the rest of their game?

I probably know 5 people who's volley is the best part of their game, from 3.0-5.5+.

J
Because most shots are not volleys; duh! :D

Yes they are technically playing doubles but really it's singles with 4 people on the court.

And people spend most of their time practicing what they're already comfortable with: their GSs.
 

winchestervatennis

Hall of Fame
Why do the majority of USTA players have such weak volleys compared to the rest of their game?

I probably know 5 people who's volley is the best part of their game, from 3.0-5.5+.

J
Great topic and I’ll agree with your assessment. I also agree with someone else that suggested this one up one back “doubles” has something to do with it.
I’ve got a theory. I’m 37 so i was taught tennis in the early to mid 90s before poly strings made every a beast from the baseline. I was taught to to get to the net to end a point. And that was in... (pause for effect) SINGLES! Chip and charge from both wings and be prepared for a first volley around the singles line. So the guy I learned from stressed learning to volley effectively. Fast forward to 2019 and yeah i play a grinder style game from the baseline, but i can volley proficiently and have no problem finishing points at net. That’s singles. On the doubles court I’ve rarely felt that any opponent is a superior net player than me - credit given to my pro when i was 13 spending all that clinic time at the net.
I wont say volley is the best part of my game, but it’s clearly not the worst.
All that said, I’m flipped from the caption inasmuch that i play 75% singles.
How about you @J011yroger ? I assume you’re similar to me. Same age, play more singles than dubs, but do better than holding your own in 2v2? Just imagine how much better you’ll be at dubs when thats what you play 75% of the time!
 

J011yroger

Talk Tennis Guru
Great topic and I’ll agree with your assessment. I also agree with someone else that suggested this one up one back “doubles” has something to do with it.
I’ve got a theory. I’m 37 so i was taught tennis in the early to mid 90s before poly strings made every a beast from the baseline. I was taught to to get to the net to end a point. And that was in... (pause for effect) SINGLES! Chip and charge from both wings and be prepared for a first volley around the singles line. So the guy I learned from stressed learning to volley effectively. Fast forward to 2019 and yeah i play a grinder style game from the baseline, but i can volley proficiently and have no problem finishing points at net. That’s singles. On the doubles court I’ve rarely felt that any opponent is a superior net player than me - credit given to my pro when i was 13 spending all that clinic time at the net.
I wont say volley is the best part of my game, but it’s clearly not the worst.
All that said, I’m flipped from the caption inasmuch that i play 75% singles.
How about you @J011yroger ? I assume you’re similar to me. Same age, play more singles than dubs, but do better than holding your own in 2v2? Just imagine how much better you’ll be at dubs when thats what you play 75% of the time!
I'm the same age as you, grew up playing 50/50 singles and doubles, was a steady flat hitting counterpuncher. I blew out my shoulder when I was 17, and didn't play for 6 years. After college I started running distance and working out to stay fit and gradually got range of motion back in my shoulder from training in the gym. I started hitting around and playing a little to see if maybe I could actually play again. I couldn't hit more than a lollipop spin serve so I just played for fun and mostly hit groundstrokes because I liked it. I had grown a few inches since 17 so I figured I should probably put this new body to work with a power/topspin game. I had very serious wrist and back injuries which set me back but once I realized that my shoulder was fully healed and that I could serve big for a full match I worked hard on my volleys and doubles.

Volleying was something that never came naturally to me so it was perpetually a struggle, but I had a lot of good coaching and I was incredibly stubborn.

Now I'm about as good at singles and doubles, I probably play 5 or more doubles matches for every singles match I play. I'm competent at net but it's certainly not my best attribute.

J
 

winchestervatennis

Hall of Fame
I'm the same age as you, grew up playing 50/50 singles and doubles, was a steady flat hitting counterpuncher. I blew out my shoulder when I was 17, and didn't play for 6 years. After college I started running distance and working out to stay fit and gradually got range of motion back in my shoulder from training in the gym. I started hitting around and playing a little to see if maybe I could actually play again. I couldn't hit more than a lollipop spin serve so I just played for fun and mostly hit groundstrokes because I liked it. I had grown a few inches since 17 so I figured I should probably put this new body to work with a power/topspin game. I had very serious wrist and back injuries which set me back but once I realized that my shoulder was fully healed and that I could serve big for a full match I worked hard on my volleys and doubles.

Volleying was something that never came naturally to me so it was perpetually a struggle, but I had a lot of good coaching and I was incredibly stubborn.

Now I'm about as good at singles and doubles, I probably play 5 or more doubles matches for every singles match I play. I'm competent at net but it's certainly not my best attribute.

J
Fairy nuff. Something tells me you’re slightly above “competent at net,” but play it cool, matey.
 

Cindysphinx

G.O.A.T.
I would say my volleys are the stronger part of my game. That’s because I started in my 40s, so there were lots of opponents who could hit harder for longer. But at that level, coming to net wins you a lot of points just because opponents aren’t used to hitting passes. So I came in.

Trouble is, my groundstrokes are still not great, so my volleys are only better by comparison. Where this really hurts me is in mixed. My groundstrokes aren’t good enough to stay back, but my volleys aren’t good enough against many guy’s topspin.
 

graycrait

Hall of Fame
Why do the majority of USTA players have such weak volleys compared to the rest of their game?
They don't want to commit to training at least 10 hrs of training to 1 hr of point play. I get this all the time. Other seniors ask me why I play better than last year or last month. I take lessons, I have a ball machine, I try and hit with good younger players when I can, I hit 100s of serves every week.

Most rec players I see think winning is the be and end all at their level. Winning a point/game/match against a 3-4.0 is meaningless. Might as well be playing with sponge balls and 25" 8oz rackets.
 

tonylg

Professional
I grew up in 1970s Australia where part of every coaching session was not this ball feeding you see today, but a pro and two assistants teeing off on everything while one kid volleyed at the net.

Be lazy the next one would get fired at your chest. Parents gasp at that now, but it produced the likes of Cash, Rafter, Woodforde, Woodbridge and others.
 

MisterP

Hall of Fame
No, you’re right. Most of us have trash volleys. Just watch any 3.5 player during the volley warmups (if they even bother) - standing two feet from the net dinking the ball or slapping it into the next court.

The people with competent volleys warm up inside the service line and slowly come forward, but not more than 4 or 5 feet from the net. And they attempt to hit the ball up the middle back to the person.
 

graycrait

Hall of Fame
Be lazy the next one would get fired at your chest. Parents gasp at that now, but it produced the likes of Cash, Rafter, Woodforde, Woodbridge and others.
This kid got my phone number this summer. He wants to get better at tennis. I say OK. I don't charge for these kids. I had to give him a decent racket. We are working on volleys. I hit a casual ball right at him. It hits him you know where, he falls on the ground in the fetal position. I feel sort of bad but I didn't hit the ball that hard. I tell him he has to have his racket in the ready position very quickly.

A couple of weeks later I crank a ball directly at him and he doesn't have his racket in the ready position. I didn't mean to do it but I send him to the ground where he is almost sick. I roll my eyes and walk to the net to talk nicely too him, explaining that he has got to get in the ready position quicker.

I started freestyle wrestling when I was 7 yrs old. I had already been "playing" tennis for two years at 7.

Get that racket out front! I'm not overly sensitive to life's bumps and bruises.

If you are a net hugger then I like the target. I'll curl a shot below the net or hit you in the belly button - I can't help it. If you wear a red or bright shirt it is even worse. It is easier for me to hit a real target than some imaginary target in a wide open court.
 
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No, you’re right. Most of us have trash volleys. Just watch any 3.5 player during the volley warmups (if they even bother) - standing two feet from the net dinking the ball or slapping it into the next court.
Exactly. This is my litmus test for whether my opponent will be a threat at the net. It's highly accurate.

The other is when I feed them lobs: if they stand close to the net and let every lob go that requires them to move more than 5', I know they aren't coming to the net much.

The people with competent volleys warm up inside the service line and slowly come forward, but not more than 4 or 5 feet from the net. And they attempt to hit the ball up the middle back to the person.
And this is the opposite litmus test: someone who does this I know will be a threat at the net.
 

tonylg

Professional
This kid got my phone number this summer. He wants to get better at tennis. I say OK. I don't charge for these kids. I had to give him a decent racket. We are working on volleys. I hit a casual ball right at him. It hits him you know where, he falls on the ground in the fetal position. I feel sort of bad but I didn't hit the ball that hard. I tell him he has to have his racket in the ready position very quickly.

A couple of weeks later I crank a ball directly at him and he doesn't have his racket in the ready position. I didn't mean to do it but I send him to the ground where he is almost sick. I roll my eyes and walk to the net to talk nicely too him, explaining that he has got to get in the ready position quicker.

I started freestyle wrestling when I was 7 yrs old. I had already been "playing" tennis for two years at 7.

Get that racket out front! I'm not overly sensitive to life's bumps and bruises.

If you are a net hugger then I like the target. I'll curl a shot below the net or hit you in the belly button - I can't help it. If you wear a red or bright shirt it is even worse. It is easier for me to hit a real target than some imaginary target in a wide open court.
That made me laugh. I got hit by my coaches so many times. Apart from learning to keep your racquet up, you also learn that getting hit is your fault (and that you generally don't die).
 

graycrait

Hall of Fame
you also learn that getting hit is your fault (and that you generally don't die).
I have personally known no person to have been killed by getting hit by a tennis ball. I suspect if one googled it there are some that have been killed by a baseball or whatever they call a ball played in cricket.

A couple of weeks ago a 70 yr old friend of mine wanted to hit some balls off my ball machine which can crank a flat shot at 95mph. He got set up at the net and I turned the knobs up to screw with him. He stepped right into a ball that hit about 2" above the net right into his abdomen. It left a mark! I felt kind of bad after I wiped my tears off my face from laughing.
 

tonylg

Professional
Quite a lot of fatalities from cricket balls, actually. One very high level died after being struck quite recently.
 

Shaolin

G.O.A.T.
Because when people warm up they hit 500 groundies then about 8 volleys, 3 overheads and call it good.

I'm guilty of this myself.
 

mcs1970

Hall of Fame
I'm saying professional doubles players work on and have excellent volleys while rec players don't.


J
They are still pros. Volleying is about quick movement, anticipation, reaction time, and great hands. Most rec players might have a couple of those, if that.

Also the light on your feet, quick movement side to side requires a different level of exertion on your quads than does just stop and start running. If you don’t train for that specifically, you will get tired fast. A badminton player’s movements more mimic a volleyer than a fit baseline tennis player’s.
 
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mcs1970

Hall of Fame
I have personally known no person to have been killed by getting hit by a tennis ball. I suspect if one googled it there are some that have been killed by a baseball or whatever they call a ball played in cricket.

A couple of weeks ago a 70 yr old friend of mine wanted to hit some balls off my ball machine which can crank a flat shot at 95mph. He got set up at the net and I turned the knobs up to screw with him. He stepped right into a ball that hit about 2" above the net right into his abdomen. It left a mark! I felt kind of bad after I wiped my tears off my face from laughing.
You found that funny? Pulling some jackass type prank on another 70 year old. What’s wrong with you?
 

ChaelAZ

Legend
It is a glarring deficiency at 3.5, but 4.0 I see it as a 50/50 issue. What I see is, there are half the guys who have improved volleys, but still half who carry over those 3.5 volleys. And then, of the half who have the improved volleys, it is still only half the time. Moving to 4.5 I would say more like 75/25. Volley work as a whole requires better footwork and control, so by that most us lower rec folks will struggle. But I know guys who never...like, ever...practice volleys. Unless you count match warm up as volley practice.

For me, I have become marginally better technical with practice, but more important is just being comfortable and confident volleying from practice. AKA, I can apply my marginal technique with better success than in the past.
 
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n8dawg6

Legend
from the 3.5 hack perspective a lot of ppl are afraid of overheads, which translates into fear of getting lobbed. so they play back and/or just dont do much poaching. also the poach shot you usually get is to the high backhand and most ppl hit that in the net or the fence. people also camp in the alley which effectively takes them out of the point. which never ceases to amaze me, you can force 3x as many errors as alley winners by pushing the center. but you have to be willing to stretch for a volley. im rambling
 

OnTheLine

Hall of Fame
From the vast middle of 3.5/4.0 league tennis .....

It baffles me that volleys can be so bad and that the player will also not compensate position wise to make up for that poor skill. If your volley stinks why are you so far back from the net? You are exposing both your weakness AND giving your opponent an oh so easy target?

From watching ladies:
Why aren't you turning to volley? Even a little?
Why are you using a fh grip?
What in the heck is with a 2H backhand AND 2H forehand volley? Why why why?
Why are you hitting every volley flat .... oh yeah, because of that grip?
Why are you moving backwards instead of forwards?
Why are you moving backwards after hitting a decent volley instead of closing in?

I have greatly improved my volleys ... in large part due to a team clinic coach who was all about the volley ... of a 2 hour clinic, 75% or more was volley volley OH volley

Overheads .... same thing ...
A huge percentage try to hit this shot facing straight to the net .... and surprised when it goes either directly into the net or directly to the back fence. In fact, with that positioning, they should be surprised if it ever finds the court.

In my cohort I have better volleys/OHs than most ... because I have worked at them

The same cannot be said for my ability to lob.
 

BallBag

Semi-Pro
Volleys are just hard to work on logistically. Cant volley at the wall, most of the guys I hit with don't really want to spend much time practicing it and I don't come in during matches because I will probably have to walk back disappointed. So its really a chicken and egg situation. If I had a decent net game I could use it more during matches and I could practice it more because the other guy would have to spend most of the time getting my shanks from the neighboring court.
 

Dartagnan64

Legend
Most rec players I see think winning is the be and end all at their level. Winning a point/game/match against a 3-4.0 is meaningless. Might as well be playing with sponge balls and 25" 8oz rackets.
In the grand scheme of things, everything we do that doesn't advance mother earth and mankind is meaningless and frivolity. I don't think we need to invoke deep meaning to people's motivations to play tennis. Whether you play to win a 3.0 match or work 30 hrs a week on your tennis skills to improve your game, it's still just a hobby.

Some rec players I come across are all about stroking their egos and winning at all costs against their peers. Most guys I play with however are more about the competition and comradery. Just trying to do your best and have some good times and beers. And that's perfectly meaningful to us.

But I do agree that no one really gets much better this way. Improvement comes mostly from ingraining good habits by practicing them.
 

Dartagnan64

Legend
The same cannot be said for my ability to lob.
Need to find someone who wants to work on their overheads. My lob has improved immensely by helping my wife work on her overhead. I make it a game. Two nice easy lobs and on the third I try to get it over her and land in. She tries to hit the overheads at me once then starts trying to hit them away from me. Teaches me to read overheads and hit defensive lobs and she learns to hit them down the middle and to the side.
 
Volleys are just hard to work on logistically. Cant volley at the wall,
Sure you can. The easiest way is to alternate between GSs and volleys. That will give you some reset time. Yes, it's not as good as rallying with a partner since you know roughly where it's going before you have to volley. To compensate slightly, I crank up the power and practice reflex volleys also.

You could also hit all volleys; the key is finding the right distance/power. You can also deliberately hit short and practice half volleys.

most of the guys I hit with don't really want to spend much time practicing it and I don't come in during matches because I will probably have to walk back disappointed. So its really a chicken and egg situation. If I had a decent net game I could use it more during matches and I could practice it more because the other guy would have to spend most of the time getting my shanks from the neighboring court.
So you have to find a way to break the cycle: find someone who is willing to practice. If they aren't super consistent from the BL, just have them feed.

There are many ways up the mountain.
 
Need to find someone who wants to work on their overheads. My lob has improved immensely by helping my wife work on her overhead. I make it a game. Two nice easy lobs and on the third I try to get it over her and land in. She tries to hit the overheads at me once then starts trying to hit them away from me. Teaches me to read overheads and hit defensive lobs and she learns to hit them down the middle and to the side.
A classic drill is for the net person to hit 3 volleys, each one closer than the last, and then an OH which forces them back. Rinse and repeat.
 
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