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

Chalkdust

New User
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
Yeah, and also, even if you do find a way to volley against the wall, or find a practice partner willing to do volleys, you usually still only end up practicing 'control' volleys rather than 'put away' volleys. To practice put aways you need a basket of balls and someone willing to just feed.
 

ptuanminh

Hall of Fame
A common thing among people practicing a volley is: they hit winner to a friendly feed. if they make it, they feel great. if not, just move on to pick up the ball. In 10 mins, they probably hit 10 volleys. Its frustrating to the other person because they want to practice their groundstroke too.
 

BallBag

Semi-Pro
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.



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.
I'm doing a clinic once a week which has a lot more net play so I'm not totally stranded in the cycle. I also play a lot more dubs in the winter which helps.
 
Yeah, and also, even if you do find a way to volley against the wall, or find a practice partner willing to do volleys, you usually still only end up practicing 'control' volleys rather than 'put away' volleys. To practice put aways you need a basket of balls and someone willing to just feed.
You can practice putaways on either the wall or a practice partner.

Yes, the wall will always return the ball but you know from experience whether what you hit would have been a winner [or at least where you intended to hit with the desired amount of power and net clearance]. Is it ideal? No. But it does allow you to practice.

With the practice partner, agree to do, say, 3 GSs and 3 volleys cooperatively and then on the 4th you can try the winner. After a while, switch positions.
 
A common thing among people practicing a volley is: they hit winner to a friendly feed. if they make it, they feel great. if not, just move on to pick up the ball. In 10 mins, they probably hit 10 volleys. Its frustrating to the other person because they want to practice their groundstroke too.
So do various drills:

- feed + putaway volley
- feed + cooperative volley
- feed + cooperative volley + passing shot

etc.
 

Traffic

Hall of Fame
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.
Agreed.
It's not natural to spend 45min working on volleys. Yet they are what separates ok doubles players from really good doubles players. Realistically, I suppose in USTA, you can have one awesome net player and one really good baseliner and do very well.

The only way I improved my volleys was to actually work on them. And to do it correctly with footwork. I'd be dripping with sweat more from practicing volleys than groundstrokes.
 
Agreed.
It's not natural to spend 45min working on volleys. Yet they are what separates ok doubles players from really good doubles players. Realistically, I suppose in USTA, you can have one awesome net player and one really good baseliner and do very well.

The only way I improved my volleys was to actually work on them. And to do it correctly with footwork. I'd be dripping with sweat more from practicing volleys than groundstrokes.
What's this "hard work" thing of which you speak?
 

MathGeek

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
There is less opportunity to practice volleys in casual play and even in intentional practice.
 

J D

Rookie
If you're consistent enough to practice your volleys against a wall effectively, then you probably don't need that much work on your volleys. It's kind of a catch 22.
 

tonylg

Professional
If you're consistent enough to practice your volleys against a wall effectively, then you probably don't need that much work on your volleys. It's kind of a catch 22.
I volleyed against a wall twice this week. I'm just about to go and play now and will no doubt spend at least half an hour on volleys. It's no different to practicing groundies.
 

J D

Rookie
I was implying that, even more then groundstrokes, a player will spend most his or her your time chasing balls instead of volleying when using a wall unless he or she is already pretty good at it. I did not mean that it wasn’t productive practice for those that are already good, just mostly frustration for those that aren’t. Hence the word “effectively” in my first post.
 

tonylg

Professional
I've never found giving up a good way of improving something. Our greatest ever batsman (cricket) was a guy named Don Bradman. Google that name and words golf ball, water tank and stump to see what perseverance can do.
 

maleyoyo

Professional
Why can't you just come to the net?

J
It's not that simple.
Volley is not a stand alone shot as it needs other skills to make your trip to the net a successful one.
First you need to know when to come to net.
Then you need a decent approach shot to set up your volley.
You have to be quick enough to be in good position for the first volley.
When at net you are closer to the other player, so it requires superior reaction time.
Then there is a whole variety of volleys you need to do: FH, BH, half volley, dealing with high balls...
Not to mention the dreaded overheads.
Coming to the net is a whole different process which can be very intimidating for many rec players.
 
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
Volleying is harder for rec players:

-basically half the reaction time

-ball is not yet slowed down by bounce

-there is a decision component like in baseball, you can't let it bounce first but you have to decide whether is is a strike.
 

J011yroger

Talk Tennis Guru
It's not that simple.
Volley is not a stand alone shot as it needs other skills to make your trip to the net a successful one.
First you need to know when to come to net.
Then you need a decent approach shot to set up your volley.
You have to be quick enough to be in good position for the first volley.
When at net you are closer to the other player, so it requires superior reaction time.
Then there is a whole variety of volleys you need to do: FH, BH, half volley, dealing with high balls...
Not to mention the dreaded overheads.
Coming to the net is a whole different process which can be very intimidating for many rec players.
B.S.

J
 
I was implying that, even more then groundstrokes, a player will spend most his or her your time chasing balls instead of volleying when using a wall unless he or she is already pretty good at it. I did not mean that it wasn’t productive practice for those that are already good, just mostly frustration for those that aren’t. Hence the word “effectively” in my first post.
That's only if you try and do the drill continuously [GS, volley, GS, volley]. If you lack that control, do them in cycles [GS, volley, stop; GS, volley, stop].
 
It's not that simple.
Volley is not a stand alone shot as it needs other skills to make your trip to the net a successful one.
First you need to know when to come to net.
Then you need a decent approach shot to set up your volley.
You have to be quick enough to be in good position for the first volley.
When at net you are closer to the other player, so it requires superior reaction time.
Then there is a whole variety of volleys you need to do: FH, BH, half volley, dealing with high balls...
Not to mention the dreaded overheads.
Coming to the net is a whole different process which can be very intimidating for many rec players.
You only have to factor all of those things in if you're worried about winning the point. If your main concern is practicing volleys, you can dispense with a lot of those concerns and simply worry about the volley.

Of course, practicing them in a non-match scenario makes more sense to me to get the reps.
 

maleyoyo

Professional
You only have to factor all of those things in if you're worried about winning the point. If your main concern is practicing volleys, you can dispense with a lot of those concerns and simply worry about the volley.

Of course, practicing them in a non-match scenario makes more sense to me to get the reps.
Volleying itself is difficult to learn and the learning curve is steep. That's the reason why most players reach for a lower hanging fruit...baseline game. The volleys become "nice to have"
I personally think a slice is a prerequisite for a volley. If you can't slice the ball with one bounce, it is awfully hard to slice the ball mid-air. Guess what, the majority of rec players can't slice if their life depend on it.
 

tonylg

Professional
I don't understand the mentality of learning how to play half of a sport. Sure, for a team sport if you're only going to play one position, that may make sense. But I'd liken it to playing golf and only hitting the green, then picking the ball up and walking to the next tee.

I'd never really thought about it, but is there a correlation between the apathy on this site towards the degeneration of professional tennis into an endless series of baseline bashing and this lack of interest in developing a competent net game at a recreational level?

I honestly watch more old matches between players like Edberg, Sampras, Becker, Stich, etc than I do current tennis. Those guys had ALL the skills. In fact, the majority of modern tennis I watch would be doubles. @S&V-not_dead_yet .. I think you need to change your name. S&V is dead.
 
I don't understand the mentality of learning how to play half of a sport. Sure, for a team sport if you're only going to play one position, that may make sense. But I'd liken it to playing golf and only hitting the green, then picking the ball up and walking to the next tee.

I'd never really thought about it, but is there a correlation between the apathy on this site towards the degeneration of professional tennis into an endless series of baseline bashing and this lack of interest in developing a competent net game at a recreational level?

I honestly watch more old matches between players like Edberg, Sampras, Becker, Stich, etc than I do current tennis. Those guys had ALL the skills. In fact, the majority of modern tennis I watch would be doubles. @S&V-not_dead_yet .. I think you need to change your name. S&V is dead.
Every time I watch awesome highlights of the 1992 US Open final, I say to myself, ‘damn, they played real tennis back then.’ Pros don’t know how to close the net like they used to.
 

tonylg

Professional
Every time I watch awesome highlights of the 1992 US Open final, I say to myself, ‘damn, they played real tennis back then.’ Pros don’t know how to close the net like they used to.
Some probably do, but when all courts play the speed of clay and everyone plays with a poly strung butterfly catcher .. they just aren't successful.

 

tonylg

Professional
Some probably do, but when all courts play the speed of clay and everyone plays with a poly strung butterfly catcher .. they just aren't successful.
I'm watching the replay of the Dimi/Jok semi and think I need to amend the above statement.

Some do (and you know who they are), but if they want to be successful in the era of slow courts and poly strung butterfly catchers, they should leave those skills in the bag and just grind.
 

tonylg

Professional
French boys just won first set of Paris final. Don't tell me nobody is watching?

Sent from my Pixel XL using Tapatalk
 

McLovin

Legend
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.
Me & my friends do a modified version of this drill all the time. We do it cross-court, attempting to simulate a doubles point:
  • person at the net feeds a ball in cross-court from a couple of feet BEHIND the service line
  • person on the baseline returns the ball cross-court, simulating a return of serve
  • net person steps in & volleys deep cross court
  • returner hits another groundstroke cross-court
  • from here we basically play the point out cross-court. So:
    • returner can come in behind their 2nd groundstroke
    • net person can hit angle drop volley
    • returner can hit a lob
    • etc...
Its important to note that the net person is not charging into the net. They're doing a normal progression, moving forward, split-stepping, etc.

And again, all shots are cross-court, meaning there is an imaginary line running down the middle of the court.

We basically do a basket of balls w/ each at the net on the deuce side, then change to the ad side. Drill takes ~ 45-50min, depending on how quickly you pick up the balls :)
 

tonylg

Professional
Me & my friends do a modified version of this drill all the time. We do it cross-court, attempting to simulate a doubles point:
  • person at the net feeds a ball in cross-court from a couple of feet BEHIND the service line
  • person on the baseline returns the ball cross-court, simulating a return of serve
  • net person steps in & volleys deep cross court
  • returner hits another groundstroke cross-court
  • from here we basically play the point out cross-court. So:
    • returner can come in behind their 2nd groundstroke
    • net person can hit angle drop volley
    • returner can hit a lob
    • etc...
Its important to note that the net person is not charging into the net. They're doing a normal progression, moving forward, split-stepping, etc.

And again, all shots are cross-court, meaning there is an imaginary line running down the middle of the court.

We basically do a basket of balls w/ each at the net on the deuce side, then change to the ad side. Drill takes ~ 45-50min, depending on how quickly you pick up the balls :)
Spot on. I do this with my mates all the time, always aiming for the singles sideline.
 

dblsplayer

Rookie
Volleying itself is difficult to learn and the learning curve is steep.
Agree, to volley properly requires lessons/teaching for proper mechanics, footwork/movement, and drill, drill, drill. When to poach, come in, approach shots and other strategies are maximized after proper technique is developed. Less is more is concept slowly learned.
 
Agree, to volley properly requires lessons/teaching for proper mechanics, footwork/movement, and drill, drill, drill. When to poach, come in, approach shots and other strategies are maximized after proper technique is developed. Less is more is concept slowly learned.
Disagree with "requires". Like anything else, lessons/coaching/advice will certainly help and accelerate one's learning. But one can learn on one's own.
 

J011yroger

Talk Tennis Guru
Agree, to volley properly requires lessons/teaching for proper mechanics, footwork/movement, and drill, drill, drill. When to poach, come in, approach shots and other strategies are maximized after proper technique is developed. Less is more is concept slowly learned.
Serves and groundstrokes don't?

J
 

dblsplayer

Rookie
Serves and groundstrokes don't?

J
Umm, thought the thread was about doubles/volleys. But yes, of course, groundstrokes, serves, returns, overheads, strategy and everything else you can think of would be improved with lessons and instruction from a very good teaching pro. And yes, many can be “self taught” to a certain point and level. I’ve yet to see a self taught top junior, college player or pro, but who knows.
 
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Umm, thought the thread was about doubles/volleys. But yes, of course, groundstrokes, serves, returns, overheads, strategy and everything else you can think of would be improved with lessons and instruction from a very good teaching pro. And yes, many can be “self taught” to a certain point and level. I’ve yet to see a self taught top junior, college player or pro, but who knows.
True but the thread is titled "If more than 75% of rec tennis is doubles...": for the rec level, self-taught is normal and can be quite successful. Not to say it's desirable, just that it's common.
 

serveandvolE

New User
Here's some thoughts about serve and volleying at the rec level from someone coming back to tennis. I was a ranked junior back in the 80s and basically took ~35 years off returning back to the game last year. When I returned I felt like Rumpelstiltskin- everything about the game changed and I was scratching my head thinking wtf- big topspin round swings, poly strings, tension in the 40 and 50s, bigger and super light rackets and......no one serves and volleys anymore.

What I did and continue to (do to the bewilderment of my various team captains) is to continue to play with the same racket I was using in the 80s and continue to come in to the net even on a good number of 2nd serves. I quickly learned why many don't serve and volley now- everything is faster with more power and returns are tougher especially with the increased topspin. But I slowly started to address some of that. When I started back up I was in pretty poor shape and I would initially get smoked when serve and volleying. Now after playing almost daily and getting in better shape I feel more comfortable coming in on both serves. I self rated last year at 4.0 and I think I can, for the most part, hold my own against 4.5s having played and competed at 4.5 tournaments and having a 7+ UTR. I think the unfamiliarity of playing against someone who is always at the net attacking has helped with this more than it's hurt but not my overall game.

Here's some thoughts (good and bad) on the volley game as the twilight years approach:

1. Most people are surprised and thrown off a bit playing against one who constantly comes to net which definitely is an equilizer for not having the same level of groundstrokes as opponents (especially younger players)

2. Although coming to net takes a lot of movement, running, and activity- points are shorter which helps save energy

3. As vision gets worse with age, it's been harder to volley playing under lights - even more so than I can remember when I played juniors

4. It helps with being included in doubles games. The cliche "he's a singles player so he must not be that good at net so don't ask him to play doubles" doesn't exclude as much.

5. At least for me, my confidence in my groundstrokes totally diminishes when attacking so much.

6. If the volley is off I might as well pack it in!
 
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MisterP

Hall of Fame
I think a big part of the problem is people’s unrelenting commitment to never, ever change between grips. When I was still a 3.5 there were more guys than I could count who couldn’t hit a forehand volley with a continental grip if their lives counted on it.

They’re all using forehand grips to hit volleys, which works really well for balls midchest to shoulder height on the forehand side. Try that grip on a low forehand, or, god forbid, a backhand. Welcome to the bottom of the net, friendo.

Personally, I think there are people who enjoy volleying, and then there are the guys who believe they can only hit balls with a SW grip from a foot away from the net. Not saying people can’t improve - but if you’re in the “3.5 for life” crowd, you probably won’t.
 

TennisCJC

Legend
I started out playing mostly singles but even then was committed to coming to the net a lot. When I got older, I started playing mostly doubles and just threw caution to the wind and started playing S&V behind every serve. I played doubles using S&V until about my mid-50s when I started playing less S&V due to bad ankles and drop in speed. Now, in early 60s, I only mix in a few S&V but still come in behind any short ball. I like attacking 2nd serves and coming to the net behind my return. I'll use either a slice BH or a topspin FH to attack a 2nd serve.

I think if you want to learn to volley, you should 1. take a few lessons on technique and tactics, and 2. just f-ing go for it and start using it in matches. You may lose a few matches at first but you'll quickly develop the skills.

I take a fair number of small group doubles lessons - usually 4 players and a coach. We hit a lot of volleys in those 90 minute sessions.
 

TennisCJC

Legend
one tip: the number 1 weakness in volley technique is too big of a swing. Don't take the racket back at all and stop your follow through so you get the feeling of staying behind the ball. I see very good baseline players that take the racket head behind their shoulders and almost always late or making off center contact. The other error is players take a long follow thru trying to hit the ball hard or trying to put underspin on the shot. Your basic meat and potatoes volley should be very very compact - no take back and shorten the follow threw so strings are staying behind contact.
 

Dan Huben

Semi-Pro
From a student that has gone through a couple of coaches in the 4 years I’ve been playing. I took up the game seriously at 45. I want to be a 4.0 before I can’t move anymore. I prefer singles.

That said, it’s the quality of instruction. Even my current coach, that I am very fond of, struggles to instruct the volley in a way that doesn’t require a 1000 balls before something clicks. Groundstrokes are swings, and We’ve been swinging at balls for years. Volleys are “punches” but most instructors have never punched anything properly. It’s like telling someone to pronate and expecting them to feel it.

Also, volleys aren’t taught so that people want to practice or can practice without high level groundstrokes.

Coaches feed out of baskets. Ball after ball dumps into the net. “Shorten the swing” racket out front. Punch. (Into the net). It’s boring and it sucks (the feed drill)

Players try to practice with one person back and the other person at net. The backperson hits a groundstrokes about 20% of the time to where the person at net could volley and then they can only volley 20% of the time. Out of 100 balls, you will hit 4 volleys well like this. That’s 34 times to stop and pick up your 3 balls and feed.

I got better at volleys through a combo of these and also trying to keep a ball in the air with my hitting partner without a swing and without a bounce but it’s been a long focus.

My mind and coordination aren’t plastic like the kids so it does take me longer to feel the move and repeat it. the instruction is turn and punch didn’t resonate. Also when you lol at tv, the camera angle and years of practice makes it look like the pros chop every volley high to low and that semi smash stroke is the worst to ingrain


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
 
From a student that has gone through a couple of coaches in the 4 years I’ve been playing. I took up the game seriously at 45. I want to be a 4.0 before I can’t move anymore. I prefer singles.

That said, it’s the quality of instruction. Even my current coach, that I am very fond of, struggles to instruct the volley in a way that doesn’t require a 1000 balls before something clicks. Groundstrokes are swings, and We’ve been swinging at balls for years. Volleys are “punches” but most instructors have never punched anything properly. It’s like telling someone to pronate and expecting them to feel it.

Also, volleys aren’t taught so that people want to practice or can practice without high level groundstrokes.

Coaches feed out of baskets. Ball after ball dumps into the net. “Shorten the swing” racket out front. Punch. (Into the net). It’s boring and it sucks (the feed drill)

Players try to practice with one person back and the other person at net. The backperson hits a groundstrokes about 20% of the time to where the person at net could volley and then they can only volley 20% of the time. Out of 100 balls, you will hit 4 volleys well like this. That’s 34 times to stop and pick up your 3 balls and feed.

I got better at volleys through a combo of these and also trying to keep a ball in the air with my hitting partner without a swing and without a bounce but it’s been a long focus.

My mind and coordination aren’t plastic like the kids so it does take me longer to feel the move and repeat it. the instruction is turn and punch didn’t resonate. Also when you lol at tv, the camera angle and years of practice makes it look like the pros chop every volley high to low and that semi smash stroke is the worst to ingrain


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
In your situation, I recommend trying to keep a volley rally going with yourself against a wall. It’s like juggling, at first you’ll only be able to hit 1 or 2, then 3 or 4. But once you get just a little better control, you can keep it going indefinitely. Don’t worry so much about form - the wall drill is largely self-correcting.
 

tonylg

Professional
During the Mahut/Herbert v Cabal/Farah match today the commentator spoke in amazement that on the practice court the French boys warmed up by volleying rather than hitting groundstrokes. To me it just makes sense that you'd do this - get loose and feel a lot of balls on the strings before you start running .. but I guess that's a symptom of treating volleys as an afterthought.

The French lads won, for what it's worth.
 
Here's some thoughts about serve and volleying at the rec level from someone coming back to tennis. I was a ranked junior back in the 80s and basically took ~35 years off returning back to the game last year. When I returned I felt like Rumpelstiltskin- everything about the game changed and I was scratching my head thinking wtf- big topspin round swings, poly strings, tension in the 40 and 50s, bigger and super light rackets and......no one serves and volleys anymore.

What I did and continue to (do to the bewilderment of my various team captains) is to continue to play with the same racket I was using in the 80s and continue to come in to the net even on a good number of 2nd serves. I quickly learned why many don't serve and volley now- everything is faster with more power and returns are tougher especially with the increased topspin. But I slowly started to address some of that. When I started back up I was in pretty poor shape and I would initially get smoked when serve and volleying. Now after playing almost daily and getting in better shape I feel more comfortable coming in on both serves. I self rated last year at 4.0 and I think I can, for the most part, hold my own against 4.5s having played and competed at 4.5 tournaments and having a 7+ UTR. I think the unfamiliarity of playing against someone who is always at the net attacking has helped with this more than it's hurt but not my overall game.

Here's some thoughts (good and bad) on the volley game as the twilight years approach:

1. Most people are surprised and thrown off a bit playing against one who constantly comes to net which definitely is an equilizer for not having the same level of groundstrokes as opponents (especially younger players)

2. Although coming to net takes a lot of movement, running, and activity- points are shorter which helps save energy

3. As vision gets worse with age, it's been harder to volley playing under lights - even more so than I can remember when I played juniors

4. It helps with being included in doubles games. The cliche "he's a singles player so he must not be that good at net so don't ask him to play doubles" doesn't exclude as much.

5. At least for me, my confidence in my groundstrokes totally diminishes when attacking so much.

6. If the volley is off I might as well pack it in!
You said everything I was gonna say.

BTW: I think it's Rip Van Winkle, not Rumplestiltskin.
 
During the Mahut/Herbert v Cabal/Farah match today the commentator spoke in amazement that on the practice court the French boys warmed up by volleying rather than hitting groundstrokes.
Gilbert actually recommends warming up volleys before GSs and he was talking singles.
 

J011yroger

Talk Tennis Guru
From a student that has gone through a couple of coaches in the 4 years I’ve been playing. I took up the game seriously at 45. I want to be a 4.0 before I can’t move anymore. I prefer singles.

That said, it’s the quality of instruction. Even my current coach, that I am very fond of, struggles to instruct the volley in a way that doesn’t require a 1000 balls before something clicks. Groundstrokes are swings, and We’ve been swinging at balls for years. Volleys are “punches” but most instructors have never punched anything properly. It’s like telling someone to pronate and expecting them to feel it.

Also, volleys aren’t taught so that people want to practice or can practice without high level groundstrokes.

Coaches feed out of baskets. Ball after ball dumps into the net. “Shorten the swing” racket out front. Punch. (Into the net). It’s boring and it sucks (the feed drill)

Players try to practice with one person back and the other person at net. The backperson hits a groundstrokes about 20% of the time to where the person at net could volley and then they can only volley 20% of the time. Out of 100 balls, you will hit 4 volleys well like this. That’s 34 times to stop and pick up your 3 balls and feed.

I got better at volleys through a combo of these and also trying to keep a ball in the air with my hitting partner without a swing and without a bounce but it’s been a long focus.

My mind and coordination aren’t plastic like the kids so it does take me longer to feel the move and repeat it. the instruction is turn and punch didn’t resonate. Also when you lol at tv, the camera angle and years of practice makes it look like the pros chop every volley high to low and that semi smash stroke is the worst to ingrain


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
The Jolly Volley instruction method has so far 100% success rate from 2.0-5.0.

J
 
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