Putting short balls into the net

IA-SteveB

Hall of Fame
We all have shots that are a low percentage for us. The ball that I am having the most difficulty with at this time is a short shot that I have to run up to. More often than not, an embarrassing amount, I dump the ball into the mid to lower portion of the net. I can't for the life of me figure out what I am doing wrong, whether I am not getting low enough or using the wrong grip or what. It doesn't matter if it is a slice or a sitter, if I have to run forward I will put it into the net. Unfortunately, I don't get many opportunities to just practice shots since most of my time is match play. I wish I had some video to illustrate since that would be the true indicator. Just looking for tips on what to start with.
 
Depends on how far into the court you have to hit the short ball from and what height the ball is when you're making impact. If you are getting short balls that are already lower than net height, then your swing path trajectory should finish higher. If these short balls are just bad lobs by the opponent and you're making contact above the net height, then you're swinging too much down on the ball.
 

blablavla

Professional
We all have shots that are a low percentage for us. The ball that I am having the most difficulty with at this time is a short shot that I have to run up to. More often than not, an embarrassing amount, I dump the ball into the mid to lower portion of the net. I can't for the life of me figure out what I am doing wrong, whether I am not getting low enough or using the wrong grip or what. It doesn't matter if it is a slice or a sitter, if I have to run forward I will put it into the net. Unfortunately, I don't get many opportunities to just practice shots since most of my time is match play. I wish I had some video to illustrate since that would be the true indicator. Just looking for tips on what to start with.
from what you write, I assume that you have somewhat flat trajectory of normal shots.
what happens with those short balls, you accelerate to get there and by default you do transfer at least part of this forward energy to the ball.
this is why it is so important to focus more on giving them an arch and spin, when you are hitting top spin.
as much as some trainers will tell you that first forget about any powerful hitting, first learn to place these balls by mastering the arch and spin, and only then work on putting them away.
 

TagUrIt

Professional
I make no claims to be a pro, but I’ll offer something that I just learned and implemented into my game. We all get curious and have a tendency to want to see where our shot is going to go. I recently learned to literally read the writing on the ball and it has helped tremendously! I was hitting short balls long because I was so anxious to see where it was going to land. The court doesn’t move, the ball does and you know where you want your shot to go (if you don’t, you should :))

You can practice this shot btw. Start at the baseline and have someone feed you short balls. It’ll give you a chance to work on your footwork and shot recognition.
 

Mongolmike

Hall of Fame
Playing doubles, I'm at net, partner receiving serve. They returned serve, next shot was back at them, but shorter shot forcing them to come up. Probably 4-5 times that happened and they hit the ball into the middle or bottom of the net.
I'm no teaching pro or think I know enough to "correct" someone's strokes, so I didn't say anything. But what it looked like to me as they were rushing in, they were making contact on the run and contacting the ball about even with their knee or slightly in front of their knees (reaching forward to hit the ball) and trying to wrist the ball up and over the net.

Ideally, they should've started to move in after return of serve, but this person has solid strokes and tends to stay near the baseline. Their first instinct is not to move up. So considering that, when they did recognize a short ball and they had to move in, instead of hitting a "reaching forward on the move" sort of forehand, they needed to move in, plant, then block volley it back, or fh slice to get under the ball....yeah?

Guess what I'm suggesting is, are you trying to hit this ball as you are rushing forward? If you are scrambling, then maybe a more defensive shot where you are under control is best... kinda the thought "just get the ball back one more time and see what happens"
 

AlexSV

Rookie
If the ball is above the height of the net, you need to flatten out your stroke and hit through it.

If the ball is low, then you need to bend really low and drive up with your legs to get the ball over the net with pace. At the same time, keep the wrist loose and roll it to get enough spin to keep the ball in.
 

Born_to_slice

Professional
Multiple reasons are possible. For me, if I dump a short ball into net it's mostly because of trying to play it too tentatively, which breaks down my normal technique. Might be something as simple as depth perception and you're executing your shot from too close to the ball. In that case, focusing on the ball should help.
 

joohan

Hall of Fame
Easy fix - find an empty tennis court, bring a bucket of tennis balls, walk mid court (into the no-mans land), take a ball and extend your hand, let go of the ball(don’t bounce it, just release it from about hip-to-shoulder height) and try to put it away.

This forces you to bend your knees and increase your racquet head speed. Later you can toss the ball around the court, let it bounce 2x or even 3x so that you have to run to it and practice footwork, knees and RHS. I’ve been doing it for a long time since I travel for work a lot and don’t have time to look for a hitting partner. Perfect exercise to practice going for winners (you have to generate everything yourself) and handling pushers as well.
 

ontologist

New User
True but I guess the root of the problem is the racquet face in relation to the ball at contact, nothing else matters if that isn’t fixed
 

Dragy

Hall of Fame
There could be two types for this issue. If you said you couldn’t find a margin between putting those into the net and hitting them way out...
But you only mentioned the net. So go test/trick your mind: try deliberately to put the ball past baseline. Go for the fence if you must, though swing moderately, don’t go for max power.
Once you clear the net reliably, look if you need further adjustments to bring the ball down before the baseline.
 

chic

Rookie
I've definitely have had this problem, especially against guys who tap the serve in.

It took trying a couple things for me, the biggest was always getting into a (semi) closed stance while moving forward (I tend to hit most balls open stance).

Also I somewhat integrated the essential tennis video about stepping/running through the shot ball.

Lastly, I worked on drop feeding myself balls just deeper than the service line to really get a feel for the right spin, net height, and depth.
 

Fairhit

Semi-Pro
Something that helped me to really get those short balls the way I want is footwork, everyone has shared important advice but I think the most basic thing to correct is footwork, if you recognize the short ball on time and get to it fast enough you should take a fraction of a second to prepare and don't hit on the run, that's the real problem, I used to do it myself, when we don't stop and prepare we hit the ball with the force of the swing plus the running, just try to stop, prepare and hit, don't hit running forward.
 

IA-SteveB

Hall of Fame
Thanks for all of the tips. Most of the ones I have problems with are shorter sitters that are about net high by the time I rush forward. After replaying points in my mind, I think I am so busy rushing to the ball that I forget to actually prepare for a shot as noted in this thread. I will take the advice in this thread and actually do some practice work.
 
I struggle with these too but most of the time it's not prepping enough, so yes footwork and movement is big on these. Also need to have a plan, I usually swing too big or too flat on these just hoping it might go in with spin, but in reality just need to have a clear target and whip it over - not a blazing winner.
 

2nd Serve Ace

Hall of Fame
Don't stop to hit this shot! Keep your forward momentum while hitting the midcourt ground stoke and that while elevate it over the net.
 

Morch Us

Semi-Pro
It is just a common hurdle during the natural progression from 3.5 to 4.0.
The details you gave are not really enough to guess it... so if any of the below assumptions are wrong my guess could be wrong.
1. you already developed some good aggressive punishing shots on your forehand from baseline.
2. you love to engage in baseline battles, and have good depth on shots.
3. you "think" you developed good topspin, but you pretty much never on purpose, hit a good angle from baseline , which bounces before service line and immediately crosses the sideline.
5. You have the issue of hitting the net when the ball is lower than net level at contact (which happens more often). When the ball is short and higher than net level at contact (which does not happen that often), you make the winners, but your target is always deep baseline aggressive winner.

If all of the above are true, then you have tons of drive on the shot, and probably also have developed good topspin. But don't know how to change the amount of spin and drive depending on the opportunities presented. You just have one specific ratio of spin+drive which you use 100% of the time (except by accident). You have to aggressively brush the ball up on those balls and it is part of a progression. Just practice them more and you will get over the hurdle.


The ball that I am having the most difficulty with at this time is a short shot that I have to run up to. More often than not, an embarrassing amount, I dump the ball into the mid to lower portion of the net. I can't for the life of me figure out what I am doing wrong
 

Bender

G.O.A.T.
You're probably off balance and leaning forwards when making contact. Possibly being overzealous with the putaway, and then after a few shots dumped into the net, probably overthinking it too.

First, try getting there a bit earlier, setting up properly with a neutral stance, and then putting the ball away.

Once you get used to that, then try different footwork variations, such as a the hopping step.
 

golden chicken

Professional
Don't stop to hit this shot! Keep your forward momentum while hitting the midcourt ground stoke and that while elevate it over the net.
I came in here to write the opposite. DON'T run through the shot. When you hit a normal forehand you aren't moving your whole body through the hitting zone, especially if you are hitting with modern open or neutral stance mechanics. Running through the shot elongates your swing path through the ball so you are not getting that low to high swing you think you are.
 

Morch Us

Semi-Pro
Both of you are right.

You hurry/run into the position.
Slight pause/balance... so not really running through (but still keeping some of that forward momentum sometimes).
Then hit through the shot moving forward further ... so not really stopping to hit the shot as well.

Essentially run,pause,hit & move-forward.

Don't stop to hit this shot
came in here to write the opposite. DON'T run through the shot.
 

ChaelAZ

Legend
We all have shots that are a low percentage for us. The ball that I am having the most difficulty with at this time is a short shot that I have to run up to. More often than not, an embarrassing amount, I dump the ball into the mid to lower portion of the net. I can't for the life of me figure out what I am doing wrong, whether I am not getting low enough or using the wrong grip or what. It doesn't matter if it is a slice or a sitter, if I have to run forward I will put it into the net. Unfortunately, I don't get many opportunities to just practice shots since most of my time is match play. I wish I had some video to illustrate since that would be the true indicator. Just looking for tips on what to start with.

Well, in most matches I play this is one of the first things I test of opponents, and many 3.5/4.0 players I go against struggle, as do I at times. It really is two issue I see, and am guilty of, and those are footwork to get in position and over-hitting.
 
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