Struggling with Moonballers...

pico

Semi-Pro
Hi all. I would put myself at a 3.5. I am developing an all-round game. My serve is not a weapon but it is getting better and more consistent. Lately I have been playing two guys that have a very similar style of game. They tend to just block my shots so that the ball has a moonball trajectory and they are good with this - really good! Here are some things I have tried on them:
1) Variation of shots and angles
2) More net play
3) More power on shots
I have a very aggressive mindset and so don't like to hang long in rallies (typically want to finish it under 10 shots). So maybe I should be more patient and slug it out? I am open to other ideas as well. I know this subject has been talked about before on here.
 

Kevo

Legend
My best advice is to try different things, as you have, and pay close attention to any weaknesses shown by the opponents on the various shots. Also, work on your overhead. If they moonball enough sometimes you can slam those shots. I once played a moonballer many years ago who was quite good at defensive lobs. I remember one point I hit four overheads. 2 of those I thought would be clear winners, but somehow he scrambled and got his racquet on them. In any case I hit a ton of overheads in that match to win it. The best thing to have when playing a really good defensive player is patience.

So look for weaknesses and attack them. Have plenty of patience and be willing to play 3 hours if that's what it takes. Also, don't forget the option to hit right at someone. Lots of players will struggle with pace directed right at them. That's usually a very comfortable shot to hit for aggressive players, so you can go a bit harder without making mistakes like you might going for more angles. And, instead of being aggressive with your shots, try to be more aggressive with court position. Be ready to move in and out as needed to try to take time away from your opponent so you can get something shorter and easier to put away. Moonballers are great at giving themselves time to recover so you want to try to take that away from them when possible.
 

ChaelAZ

Legend
1) Variation of shots and angles
2) More net play
These are good to try and find ways to break them down.

3) More power on shots
I have a very aggressive mindset...
These can cause more issues than pay dividens. The absolute antithesis to moonballing is being overly agressive, and what moonballers are looking to have folks do. You can be agressive, but power isn't the cure all. I love Paul Anncoe's quote about "controlled agression".

So maybe I should be more patient and slug it out?
Yeah, this is what I found is key for me. I know you mentioned not wating to get in long rallies, and I am the same, but you have to find ways to keep the ball going until you get something you can be more offensive on, somewhere in being agressive neutral balls to get to that point. Dpending on the moonballer, I have found many move side to side much better that back to front, so trying to vary depth and angles as you mentioned in point one is a good starting point.

And then, active feet is always something we all struggle with when pace slows, so be mindful there.
 
Instead of trying to hit shots back hard all the time, I tell myself that these moonballers can't hurt me so what's the hurry to end the point. I get into a few rallies with them and wait for the right shot to attack. And don't avoid these players. The more you play them the better you get at dealing with these type of players. There are quite a few pushers/moonballers on my ladder. Over the years I have gotten better/more comfortable at hitting high balls thanks to them.
 

pico

Semi-Pro
These are all great responses. So refreshing to see ppl give positive and helpful responses!
 

tennis4me

Hall of Fame
You should watch some of the ITF-level women matches. There are quite a few players with this style of play. They don't do it all the time as USTA moonballers, but as defense. It's educational to watch how their opponents handle those balls. In summary, the opponent usually either hit them on the rise and crush the balls, or hit (not quite on the rise, but still high up) with a lot of top spin to empty court (since most of the time when the moonballers do this, they're pulled out wide). There are other responses at that level, of course - some take it up on the air and do swinging volley, etc.

None of these two responses are easy to do. No shortcut, you need to practice hitting those shots.
 

ChaelAZ

Legend
You should watch some of the ITF-level women matches. There are quite a few players with this style of play.

Women's college gets a lot of those rallies too. Was just watching this yesterday and has some moonball rallies. Interesting to see where and how they decide to attack. Oh and GOATy underahand serve as well as breaking a net post. Singles starts around the middle and should start there.

 

tennis4me

Hall of Fame
Women's college gets a lot of those rallies too. Was just watching this yesterday and has some moonball rallies. Interesting to see where and how they decide to attack. Oh and GOATy underahand serve as well as breaking a net post. Singles starts around the middle and should start there.

Yes, forgot to mention leaning on the net posts to break the post has been used to play against moonballers. Wait, it was used by the moonballer herself. :-D

Definitely we'll see this at college level as well as even in ITF level the players still do this. At the Pro WTA level it's much less and players at this level knows how to finish off those type of balls.
 

FiReFTW

Legend
Women's college gets a lot of those rallies too. Was just watching this yesterday and has some moonball rallies. Interesting to see where and how they decide to attack. Oh and GOATy underahand serve as well as breaking a net post. Singles starts around the middle and should start there.

And keep in mind, these two girls have an official UTR rating of 11, which is equal to NTRP 5.5 men, tho ladies are slightly weaker generally compared UTR to UTR.. but we are talking about very high level tennis players here and these balls are still effective at times.

So these balls or opponents are not as easy to beat as some people here claim sometimes, they just say... well its easy to beat them, but its not that easy.
 

FiReFTW

Legend
Instead of trying to hit shots back hard all the time, I tell myself that these moonballers can't hurt me so what's the hurry to end the point. I get into a few rallies with them and wait for the right shot to attack. And don't avoid these players. The more you play them the better you get at dealing with these type of players. There are quite a few pushers/moonballers on my ladder. Over the years I have gotten better/more comfortable at hitting high balls thanks to them.
Yes thinking you should finish these balls non stop and hit winners is wrong and will make you lose.

You should play your game and if you like to be aggressive be so, but not overly, be patient and wait for the right ball.

Ive been told from high level players that they struggle against these players too and its not so easy as some think, and they said some of the best options to play them are:

1.Don't try to crush balls, be patient
2.Hit heavy deep spin and move them around with it, this should make them be late and cough shorter balls which you can aproach on
3.Use spin volley when possible to take balls from the air and aproach
4.Try to get to the net as soon as possible (but doesn't mean madly, but search for that ball that you can come in after and don't be afraid too)
5.Finish those balls once you hit good aproaches either with volleys or overheads
6.Hit with variety, mix it up, deep heavy spin, slices, more power less spin.. so they have very different balls, this should make them hit shorter aswell since they don't have the same ball to get in rhytm
7.Use short slices and dropshots to force them to net where most of these player don't enjoy being
 

Born_to_slice

Hall of Fame
You have to be patient with these types of players. If you're not able to put away their defensive shots with positive % of winners, you have to construct the point somehow. You have to think how to make it uncomfortable for them. Play a moonball or a neutral rally shot back at them, play a low slice, sharp low bouncing TS, change pace, depth and move them side to side. Try to think how to apply pressure, not ending the point before you build it up.
 
Do what you feel confident doing. Don’t try to hit shots you can’t really make consistently just because “that’s the way to beat moonballers.” Keep good form on your shots and keep moving your opponent around even if it’s only a few feet here and there. Keep your cool on balls you know you should put away. Go away and practice the shots you think you need to improve for next time.
 

undecided

Semi-Pro
I find 2 approaches work and you have to use both to keep the moonballer in check.
1. Hit a LOT Of topspin to their backhand. Doesn't have to be hard it just has to have a lot of spin
2. Mix it up with coming in and volleying away the response you get from #1.
 

dman72

Hall of Fame
Once you get past these guys, you will be 4.0 most likely and you can avoid playing them for the most part, and you will want to because beyond 3.5 play, they are a waste of your time.

You described them as "blocking back", we aren't talking people cranking topspin here, so calm down "you must just suck"ers. I played a bunch of these guys at 3.5 2 years ago, beat them all although some were close and I had some frustrating set losses. They are the worst on hard tru because even slow moonballers require patience on that surface. On hard courts I find it's easier to get balls past these guys.

First tactic I would try is: moonball back. See how long they can last when you play their game. Of course, if they are more fit than you, that might not work. I was always as fit or more fit than the 3.5 moonballer I played. When they see you aren't going to make a mistake after the first 20 shot rally, they may change their plan. I had my first real breakthrough against a notorious moonballer in my club league years back doing just that. One set took over an hour and he eventually physically broke down. .
Second is to come to net and volley or overhead. If you can't execute overheads and volleys, you are in trouble.
Third, go straight junk..hit drop shots, then moonballs, sidespinning slice, etc. Then pass them or lob them.

What the poster before me said about keeping your cool is crucial. Keep your head down and hit the ball the way you are capable of hitting it to a good spot.

Most importantly, look at the big picture. You will get better, they will not. The 3.5 guy who has resigned to moonballing is someone no one wants to play. They get on USTA teams because they can frustrate people and win some matches, but I"ve never asked for a guys info to play outside of USTA who moonballs, where as guys who actually try to execute something offensive, I have.
 

FiReFTW

Legend
Once you get past these guys, you will be 4.0 most likely and you can avoid playing them for the most part, and you will want to because beyond 3.5 play, they are a waste of your time.

You described them as "blocking back", we aren't talking people cranking topspin here, so calm down "you must just suck"ers. I played a bunch of these guys at 3.5 2 years ago, beat them all although some were close and I had some frustrating set losses. They are the worst on hard tru because even slow moonballers require patience on that surface. On hard courts I find it's easier to get balls past these guys.

First tactic I would try is: moonball back. See how long they can last when you play their game. Of course, if they are more fit than you, that might not work. I was always as fit or more fit than the 3.5 moonballer I played. When they see you aren't going to make a mistake after the first 20 shot rally, they may change their plan. I had my first real breakthrough against a notorious moonballer in my club league years back doing just that. One set took over an hour and he eventually physically broke down. .
Second is to come to net and volley or overhead. If you can't execute overheads and volleys, you are in trouble.
Third, go straight junk..hit drop shots, then moonballs, sidespinning slice, etc. Then pass them or lob them.

What the poster before me said about keeping your cool is crucial. Keep your head down and hit the ball the way you are capable of hitting it to a good spot.

Most importantly, look at the big picture. You will get better, they will not. The 3.5 guy who has resigned to moonballing is someone no one wants to play. They get on USTA teams because they can frustrate people and win some matches, but I"ve never asked for a guys info to play outside of USTA who moonballs, where as guys who actually try to execute something offensive, I have.
A guy just posted d1 college girls (UTR11 or 5.5ntrp) vids that have heavy moonballing going on, and here comes another smartass saying on 4.0 there are no moonballs lmao... this forum is something else..
 

zaph

Professional
It is not impossible to blast these guys off the court at 3.5 level, I play at your level and have bagelled them. The problem is they have done the reverse to me. Attempting to hit winners off every ball is a recipe for wildly fluctuating scores. It is fun though.

If you have dismissed winner hitting madness and you really should. The way to deal with them is patience and the good old rally ball. They are basically giving you control of the rally, so you have to do something with that. Move them about, find where they don't like the ball and wait till they cough up an easy short ball. I won't lie, you'ill f**k up putting those away as well, at least at first but practice makes prefect.

The other option is good old serve volley, take the net as sound as possible and take their moonballs out of the air. However that is easier said than done and once again takes practice.
 

Morch Us

Professional
That could be a problem.
I have a very aggressive mindset and so don't like to hang long in rallies
Wrong mentality. I will explain below.
maybe I should be more patient and slug it out?
Again. Wrong mentality. The right approach is to "create the right ball". But "waiting" is still better than the first approach (over aggressive, trying to get to offense without the right ball).
be patient and wait for the right ball
In general, the moonlighters challenge opponents lack of ability to create proper patterns. Against most other folks, just keeping the ball deep "mindlessly" or to their weaker side is good enough to extract errors. But here the moon-baller feed off the deep ball (another variation of how pushers feed off the deep ball as well). There by you not getting enough "chances" by waiting. Or have to wait too long.... and eventually either plays out to the moonballers patterns unknowingly. "Waiting" may sometime work, and you may get wins agains them at times. But to have a consistent win ratio, you have to develop the ability to "create" weak balls, by proper patterns. There are too many possible patterns, which I had already discussed in another thread.

But the general idea is a) don't be afraid to create a bigger moonball back b) create angles from short balls instead of mindlessly hitting deep c) keep it low to generate overheads d) take their strength away by not allowing them to hang around where they want. You can be creative with your patterns based on your strength using the above base ideas.
 
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Hi all. I would put myself at a 3.5. I am developing an all-round game. My serve is not a weapon but it is getting better and more consistent. Lately I have been playing two guys that have a very similar style of game. They tend to just block my shots so that the ball has a moonball trajectory and they are good with this - really good! Here are some things I have tried on them:
1) Variation of shots and angles
2) More net play
3) More power on shots
And how have these strategies worked?

I have a very aggressive mindset and so don't like to hang long in rallies (typically want to finish it under 10 shots).
If your opponent figures this out, guess what he's going to do?

Unless you have some injury or weakness that doesn't allow for long rallies, dispense with the shot target and concentrate on playing high % tennis. Otherwise, you'll be donating points to Mr. MB.

So maybe I should be more patient and slug it out? I am open to other ideas as well. I know this subject has been talked about before on here.
"Slugging it out" might not be wise either if you are less consistent than they are.

Here are some things to try:
- Hit aggressive shots to big targets: how do they move?
- Hit deliberate short shots or even droppers: do they like coming to the net or will they only approach as a last resort?
- Hit no-pace: "just blocking" the ball works great when the ball has a lot of pace; not so well when it has very little
- Hit slice to make them get low: does the quality of their MB decline?
- Move inside the court and hit a swinging volley if you're further away or an OH if you're closer. This strategy is very execution-dependent: if you don't own either shot, obviously don't try this strategy. But it doesn't even have to be a swinging volley: it could just be a regular volley. Get to the net and see what he does: still MB or does he panic and try a low % passing shot?
- S&V/C&C: put immediate pressure on him rather than allowing him to get into a groove

All of these strategies will yield information about how they respond to certain situations. You may find they don't like one or more of them.
 

Shroud

G.O.A.T.
I am an on the rise guy and have little patience for rallies. Lots of those moonballers like to give themselves time to get back in position and years of that gives them a certain "rhythm" that they like. Hit the moonball, grab some water, text the wife, etc. You have to mess up the rhythm. One of the best ways is to hit on the rise taking time away from them. It increases your own difficulty but its actually fairly easy with practice. Don't try to hit winners but do hit some aggressive shots preferably away from them.

Here is an example of the type of practice and shot I mean. Its not a perfect vid but I promise you those moonballers are not seeing balls come back this quickly (not pace just time). So if you can practice these shots on both sides it will help especially given your lack of patience.

 

Bender

G.O.A.T.
I am an on the rise guy and have little patience for rallies. Lots of those moonballers like to give themselves time to get back in position and years of that gives them a certain "rhythm" that they like. Hit the moonball, grab some water, text the wife, etc. You have to mess up the rhythm. One of the best ways is to hit on the rise taking time away from them. It increases your own difficulty but its actually fairly easy with practice. Don't try to hit winners but do hit some aggressive shots preferably away from them.

Here is an example of the type of practice and shot I mean. Its not a perfect vid but I promise you those moonballers are not seeing balls come back this quickly (not pace just time). So if you can practice these shots on both sides it will help especially given your lack of patience.

Same here, I'm an on the rise guy (although mostly on the BH side). So long as the bounce-hit rhythm for me is there, my left arm does as much work as it's supposed to (2HBH here), and I don't second-guess myself, I can smack a flat BH anywhere on court with pretty decent accuracy. I had one in a doubles game on Monday where someone moonball lobbed my partner who was at net on the AD side, and I just shuffled across and drove a flat backhand up the middle on the rise (it was practically a half-volley).

Forehand I have a lot more issues guestimating the amount of space I need between myself and the ball, so for now I take a step or two back and just hit a heavy topspin forehand from behind the baseline.

If you have a knifing slice, that'll also be good to use against them. You can't moonball if you can't get under the ball.
 

34n

Semi-Pro
I am an on the rise guy and have little patience for rallies. Lots of those moonballers like to give themselves time to get back in position and years of that gives them a certain "rhythm" that they like. Hit the moonball, grab some water, text the wife, etc. You have to mess up the rhythm. One of the best ways is to hit on the rise taking time away from them. It increases your own difficulty but its actually fairly easy with practice. Don't try to hit winners but do hit some aggressive shots preferably away from them.

Here is an example of the type of practice and shot I mean. Its not a perfect vid but I promise you those moonballers are not seeing balls come back this quickly (not pace just time). So if you can practice these shots on both sides it will help especially given your lack of patience.

I counted 3 errors out of 7 shots. What is the rational of taking moonballs at the point of maximum velocity?
 

Shroud

G.O.A.T.
I counted 3 errors out of 7 shots. What is the rational of taking moonballs at the point of maximum velocity?
Lack of patience, lack of fitness, lack of rally desire, lack of normalcy, no one does it, not playing into their gamestyle, etc. Also if you notice, those were bhs. You really want to hit a one hander at head height??

I did mention that its not a perfect vid....
 

34n

Semi-Pro
Lack of patience, lack of fitness, lack of rally desire, lack of normalcy, no one does it, not playing into their gamestyle, etc. Also if you notice, those were bhs. You really want to hit a one hander at head height??

I did mention that its not a perfect vid....
I don’t doubt that you can do better.
I am arguing against this approach in general.
Moonball is a shot thar accelerates all the way towards the bounce. Taking it as a half volley is the toughest possible way. Not only it reaches max. speed it also changes direction at this point.
Better approach is a step forward and taking it in the air on descent at waist height. Or falling back and take it on descent after the bounce or taking it high near apogee where it has no speed at all.
The textbook tactics is falling back immediately and hitting back a better moonball, more spin and height. If you see it successful you can move forward in anticipation of weaker return.

One thing you cant do with a moonball is wasting time staying close to the base line.
 
I don’t doubt that you can do better.
I am arguing against this approach in general.
Moonball is a shot thar accelerates all the way towards the bounce. Taking it as a half volley is the toughest possible way. Not only it reaches max. speed it also changes direction at this point.
Better approach is a step forward and taking it in the air on descent at waist height. Or falling back and take it on descent after the bounce or taking it high near apogee where it has no speed at all.
The textbook tactics is falling back immediately and hitting back a better moonball, more spin and height. If you see it successful you can move forward in anticipation of weaker return.

One thing you cant do with a moonball is wasting time staying close to the base line.
Then it becomes a war of attrition. If I'm playing someone who is good at MBing and I don't practice it, the odds are in his favor.

Yes, hitting the ball at the point of max acceleration is more difficult than letting it bounce, reach its apex, and decline. And yet we hit OHs on-the-fly. Obviously the max acceleration wasn't as important as the offense we can generate by taking it out of the air rather than letting it bounce.

Letting it bounce allows the MBer to reset the point. Do I want to allow my opponent to do that? The answer will determine my response.

I'm not saying to always hit a swinging volley but it's a nice tool to have.

Another counter is to hit the MB but then come into the net, either immediately so he can see or delayed as a surprise tactic. Just be prepared to hit a lot of OHs initially.
 

dman72

Hall of Fame
A guy just posted d1 college girls (UTR11 or 5.5ntrp) vids that have heavy moonballing going on, and here comes another smartass saying on 4.0 there are no moonballs lmao... this forum is something else..
You didn't even read the entire post genius. "You described them as "blocking back", we aren't talking people cranking topspin here, so calm down "you must just suck"ers. "

Right on cue, here you are telling someone they suck.
 

34n

Semi-Pro
And yet we hit OHs on-the-fly. Obviously the max acceleration wasn't as important as the offense we can generate by taking it out of the air rather than letting it bounce.

Letting it bounce allows the MBer to reset the point. Do I want to allow my opponent to do that? The answer will determine my response.
I see what you are saying. However taking a moonball in the air close to baseline is a defensive shot. If you let a good moonball deep inside your court you are on defensive and in need of resetting the point, not your opponent. Your opponent have had already enough time to recover from whatever damage by your previous shots.
Moonball is the ONLY shot in tennis that arrives to the bounce at its highest speed. All other shots steadily slow down towards the bounce.
When you see it coming it seems slow. When it arrives it is fast all of the sudden. Deceptive.
It gives perception that you have enough time, and can wait and do nothing special, while in reality you are under attack.
The mooballer is begging you to take offensive shot right away and make an error or mishit.
Moonballs are attackable only close to the apogee but the attack has to be prepared
 
The mooballer is begging you to take offensive shot right away and make an error or mishit.
This is the key: if I make too many errors then I shouldn't be hitting the offensive shot [but I should be practicing it].

However, if I'm winning the majority of points by attacking, then I should.

Moonballs are attackable only close to the apogee but the attack has to be prepared
One can attack a MB with an OH, swinging volley, or regular volley. Whether one does depends on the ability to execute.
 

mcs1970

Hall of Fame
You are getting a lot of advice to be patient, but at your level my suggestion would be to be overly aggressive. Think attack anytime you see a moonball. If you make tons of mistakes initially that’s fine but start getting used to the thought that ball in the air is the rally moving in your favor.

Once you are extremely confident about your overheads you can dial back and be more judicious. But get to that point first that you are not being patient just because you don’t have a good overhead game in the first place.
 

Morch Us

Professional
If the error count is high on moonball return, it is not usually because it is the toughest shot to handle, it is just because it is tough to get over aggressive with it. So keeping that in mind, if you are not attempting a one shot finish, taking the moonball on the rise can be and should be practiced.

So having a mindset of, it is easy, I am going to finish it may cause self-destruction. But that does not mean you have to wait and go along with it.

And of course there are times when you find yourself not in proper footwork or position to take the ball on the rise, and then the key is to judge it early accept that you are on defense now and hit a higher moonball back. But that should not be your ONLY response. If you want to be pro-active, you want to be able to direct rallies to the way you want, by taking initiative, especially when you find yourself in position using your feet with purpose and intensity.

Depth of the moonball shot also matters. Infact moonball is probably the only shot where you might want to take it on the rise, even when it is too deep, even if you are in defense (a defensive on the rise shot). If you let a moonball bounce right on the baseline, and then try to let it bounce and take it from further back, you may just see it rising further and going over the fence, and even if it does not, you may not have any chance other than to feed an overhead practice to the opponent. In this case a "defensive" on the rise or a defensive swing volley make sense to stay in the point and to stay neural.

What I am saying is, it is not "all or nothing". There is a middle ground.

A lot of the moon balls landing 6 feet inside the baseline could be taken as overheads or slice volleys as well. But it is challenging for your footwork. So depending on footwork skills, you can apply different attacking strategies or patterns. But make sure to be "pro-active" to those patterns, than just staying back and watching the show.

What we just talked about is reacting to a moonball, and getting out of it back to your comfort zone. There is a whole different topic about, how did you even get to that situation. Meaning, how not to provide shots to hit good moonballs, essentially.

at your level my suggestion would be to be overly aggressive
Taking it as a half volley is the toughest possible way.
 
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Dan Huben

Semi-Pro
What works for me is noticing that they are only redirecting power

Short low push slices with a net charge.
Medium to half speed shots to make them hit hard
Block volley from the baseline (not wussing it)
Hit on the rise and recover until you can pressure.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
 

34n

Semi-Pro
This is the key: if I make too many errors then I shouldn't be hitting the offensive shot [but I should be practicing it].

However, if I'm winning the majority of points by attacking, then I should.
Correct. Attacking shots should be practiced both in technical and tactical way.
Tactically one practice in recognising situations when to attack and how to prepare an attack.
Deep moonball in particular should not be attacked. Instead there is a sequence of three actions to prepare an attack if you see a mooball coming.
Fall back - respond with a better moonball - move forward and expect attackable return. This pattern should be practiced.
 

Morch Us

Professional
Both does not have to be tied together. You can respect a deep moonball and can hit a defensive shot on the rise. You don't have to fall back. Infact like I mentioned above, a well hit moonball landing on baseline, you are forced to hit it on the rise, even a defensive shot (because otherwise you may have to run outside the fence to hit it back).

Not everyone is playing on US Open central court. So it is not unusual for a moonball to continue rising even when it reaches fence (or above).

It is not a one solution for all. There are times you have to fall back, there are times you don't ... irrespective of whether you are on defense or not.

Deep moonball in particular should not be attacked.
Fall back
 

Morch Us

Professional
It is probably hard to see in ATP tour. But watch some of the matches of the new Canadian star "Andreescu". She is good at starting a moonball and also in defending it (or ending it with purposeful 3 shot patterns) when she is faced with it. She does also apply on the rise as well as fall back defending approaches, since she is equally skilled in both.
 

Dragy

Hall of Fame
+1 for on-the-rise with neutralizing mindset. It's doable, it brakes the rhythm, it saves you your optimal court positioning. It's worth practicing.
Re-lob definitely works if you are not pushed to the back fence, so against mid-depth moonballs.
 

mcs1970

Hall of Fame
@Morch Us

I don’t disagree with anything you have said. All I'm saying is at lower levels neither moonballs nor overheads are much good. Take advantage to become more confident in your ability to hit good overheads under game pressure if your opponent is using moonballs as a predominant strategy. You'll make tons of mistakes initially. So what? In a team sport being unselfish is not a virtue if you're doing it because you don't want to handle the pressure, and are passing up good shots. In Tennis, patience is not a virtue if you're doing it mainly because you don't have a strong base to attack weaker shots.

Strategy, judiciousness, smart play should all be there. Fully agree with what you're saying. All I'm saying is that you can build that up as you go.
 

xFullCourtTenniSx

Hall of Fame
There are 4 things you need to develop (in no particular order)

1) A solid approach shot. If you are making contact halfway inside no-man's land, be able to CONSISTENTLY play that ball aggressively off of any height. If some heights are bothering you, read the short ball earlier so you can get into position faster and catch it at a comfortable height, but you still want to be able to play off of multiple heights. You shouldn't miss any of these balls but you should be able place the ball and control the depth. The go-to should be down the line and deep (not necessarily powerful, cleanly hit with a smooth, comfortable swing is plenty). If you close into the net slowly, you should lean towards using slice (don't feel like you need to hit a ton of underspin, just get a feel for the ball and do your best to keep it low after the bounce). Topspin and flat approach shots have a better chance of finishing the point outright, but give the passer more options and takes away time for you to close in on the net.

2) Net game, especially overheads. Most of the winners you hit and the errors that you force should come from volleys. IT IS CRITICAL TO IMPROVE YOUR OVERHEADS AND OVERHEAD FOOTWORK. The reason it is critical to improve your overheads is because (since they're already lobbing frequently) the lob will be one of their most trusted passing shots. Beyond that, if your footwork for setting up for overheads is better, you can close more aggressively on the net. If your overhead footwork is mediocre, you can't move too far inside the service line or you'll get beaten by a lob. This is problematic as this leaves you open to low passes and wide passes as well as greatly reducing your ability to end points with a volley. If you can get halfway inside the service box during your split step and move towards the net as you intercept the passing shot, you have a very good chance to finish with that volley.

3) A solid rally ball. Never miss into the net, and never miss wide when going down the line. Always miss long or wide crosscourt (but never wide when hitting from the center of the court). Always aim to take the net out of play (by always aiming several feet above it), and use plenty of topspin to keep it inside the lines, but aim several feet past the service line. Hell, if slice works better for you, and you can hit 50 of them in a row halfway between the service line and baseline, go for it. You are never looking to win points off of this shot, you are looking to stay in points as long as necessary with this shot (which is until you get that short ball you can use to transition to the net). If they make an error or fail to reach the ball before coughing up a short ball, then that's great for you. Aim most of your shots to the side that is less likely to hurt you and/or the side that is more likely to cough up a short ball. The name of the game is "I can hit more balls in the court past the service line than you can". That's all tennis has every really been. Doesn't matter how you do it, just that you do it. The strategy and tactics to achieve that fall into place based on your play style, skill set, and opponent.

4) The mentality to fight for each point and stay out there as long as it takes to get the job done. It is a competition of physical, mental, and technical capabilities. More than anything tennis comes down to a mental battle. It's a battle with yourself to keep moving well and to choose the right shot over the quick, easy, cheap shot. And as much as you might be hurting out there, remind yourself that your opponent is out there struggling with you. Trust your shots and accept that misses will happen, our goal is to minimize mistakes, not remove them altogether. Expect every ball to come back and be ready for it. Expect every ball to drop/curve in unless it's 2 feet wide.


Luxury parts of your game to develop

1) The serve, more specifically - the spin serves. Spin serves are more consistent, leading to higher first serve percentages. Higher first serve percentages puts more pressure on the returner. Not only that, they expand the area your opponent has to defend AFTER the return. A good slice and kick out wide can pull the returner an extra 5 feet away from the middle of the court, meaning your first shot has the entire court to work with. Even if they hit a good deep shot, if you can just redirect it to the open court, their next shot is likely going to be weak, and you can attack it if you don't win the point off your first shot outright (again, it's not about power, but placement, make them run). Flat serves should only be used as a surprise changeup (of course, with an emphasis on placement). On first serves, you should aim for more aggressive placements (short and wide) to force them farther out of position. On second serves, settle for the 3x3 square foot zone at the corner (or the body serve).

2) Hitting on the rise. It should be every player's goal to try and shift the tempo of the rallies into one they are comfortable with (and if possible, one that is uncomfortable for the opponent). Some people use this as an excuse to be lazy for their footwork though. Instead of moving to set up a good shot on the rise, they simply don't move and swat at the ball as it comes up. This is nothing more than a defensive shot, and a low percentage one. Hitting on the rise isn't so much about timing, but footwork and preparation. Timing is involved, but it's relatively simple if your feet are in position and your racket is ready to go early. Hitting on the rise will allow you to keep playing safe rally balls while still pressuring your opponent by taking time away from them.

3) Drive volley and sneak (volley) attacks. This is basically the hitting on the rise variant of approach shots. If you see your opponent in trouble, you can move in before they hit the ball and take the ball out of the air. Again, this should be treated as an approach shot (don't miss it, and just place it deep and off to the side, while avoiding the sidelines). This is genuinely the scariest thing to face as a moonballer. It means you have to go for a little more when you're on the run or they'll (likely) put the ball away with 1 shot.

4) Drop shot/short slice + passing shot. Honestly, the drop shot is just overall not a great shot unless you're already well inside the court. If you try to play it in the middle of a rally from behind the baseline, you'll give away so many free points. If you play it from a position you should be playing it from, you could've just as easily used a normal approach shot. A far better option would be to use a short slice. The goal is to try and get it to bounce twice a few feet before the baseline. It's easier to execute and still does plenty to mess with your opponent's positioning. If you can do a short backhand slice crosscourt, then throw a deep looper to the other side on the next shot, you'll get your opponent moving a lot while hitting tough shots. If you throw the short slice and see them prepare to hit a slice, quickly move a step inside the baseline and halfway into the ad side of the court. The next ball is going to come in slow and weak, allowing you to set up for either a crosscourt forehand (potentially with angle if they drop it short) or move around the ball quickly to take the ball up the line with an inside in forehand (or inside out behind them). The passing shot is so you can punish them if they opt to try and approach off of your slice. If you did a good job of keeping it low, they can't put a lot on the approach and you will have a legitimate look at the pass (don't cheat too far to your backhand corner if they are the type to try and come to the net).

5) Fitness. In all honesty, fitness is a luxury. You don't NEED it to win against a moonballer unless you're REALLY out of shape. As long as your footwork is light and you aren't trying to move a mountain with every groundstroke you hit, you can last a lot longer on the court than you expect, especially if you fully utilize the 20 seconds you have between serves, 90 seconds on changeovers, and 2 minutes between sets. Being more fit strengthens your mental strength because you know you put in the work and can likely outlast your opponent. Not only that, it'll make your movement better and if done right can put a little extra racket head speed on your swings. A moonballer won't hurt you and they won't force you to sprint too often. You will still be moving plenty, but you should be moving lightly and quickly, which takes less energy than hard stops and change of directions.


The one and only strategy video you really need (it all falls into place if you just treat moonballs as their rally balls and focus on keeping your rally balls deep and aim them in the direction dictated in this video):

And for overheads:
 

FiReFTW

Legend
There are 4 things you need to develop (in no particular order)

1) A solid approach shot. If you are making contact halfway inside no-man's land, be able to CONSISTENTLY play that ball aggressively off of any height. If some heights are bothering you, read the short ball earlier so you can get into position faster and catch it at a comfortable height, but you still want to be able to play off of multiple heights. You shouldn't miss any of these balls but you should be able place the ball and control the depth. The go-to should be down the line and deep (not necessarily powerful, cleanly hit with a smooth, comfortable swing is plenty). If you close into the net slowly, you should lean towards using slice (don't feel like you need to hit a ton of underspin, just get a feel for the ball and do your best to keep it low after the bounce). Topspin and flat approach shots have a better chance of finishing the point outright, but give the passer more options and takes away time for you to close in on the net.

2) Net game, especially overheads. Most of the winners you hit and the errors that you force should come from volleys. IT IS CRITICAL TO IMPROVE YOUR OVERHEADS AND OVERHEAD FOOTWORK. The reason it is critical to improve your overheads is because (since they're already lobbing frequently) the lob will be one of their most trusted passing shots. Beyond that, if your footwork for setting up for overheads is better, you can close more aggressively on the net. If your overhead footwork is mediocre, you can't move too far inside the service line or you'll get beaten by a lob. This is problematic as this leaves you open to low passes and wide passes as well as greatly reducing your ability to end points with a volley. If you can get halfway inside the service box during your split step and move towards the net as you intercept the passing shot, you have a very good chance to finish with that volley.

3) A solid rally ball. Never miss into the net, and never miss wide when going down the line. Always miss long or wide crosscourt (but never wide when hitting from the center of the court). Always aim to take the net out of play (by always aiming several feet above it), and use plenty of topspin to keep it inside the lines, but aim several feet past the service line. Hell, if slice works better for you, and you can hit 50 of them in a row halfway between the service line and baseline, go for it. You are never looking to win points off of this shot, you are looking to stay in points as long as necessary with this shot (which is until you get that short ball you can use to transition to the net). If they make an error or fail to reach the ball before coughing up a short ball, then that's great for you. Aim most of your shots to the side that is less likely to hurt you and/or the side that is more likely to cough up a short ball. The name of the game is "I can hit more balls in the court past the service line than you can". That's all tennis has every really been. Doesn't matter how you do it, just that you do it. The strategy and tactics to achieve that fall into place based on your play style, skill set, and opponent.

4) The mentality to fight for each point and stay out there as long as it takes to get the job done. It is a competition of physical, mental, and technical capabilities. More than anything tennis comes down to a mental battle. It's a battle with yourself to keep moving well and to choose the right shot over the quick, easy, cheap shot. And as much as you might be hurting out there, remind yourself that your opponent is out there struggling with you. Trust your shots and accept that misses will happen, our goal is to minimize mistakes, not remove them altogether. Expect every ball to come back and be ready for it. Expect every ball to drop/curve in unless it's 2 feet wide.


Luxury parts of your game to develop

1) The serve, more specifically - the spin serves. Spin serves are more consistent, leading to higher first serve percentages. Higher first serve percentages puts more pressure on the returner. Not only that, they expand the area your opponent has to defend AFTER the return. A good slice and kick out wide can pull the returner an extra 5 feet away from the middle of the court, meaning your first shot has the entire court to work with. Even if they hit a good deep shot, if you can just redirect it to the open court, their next shot is likely going to be weak, and you can attack it if you don't win the point off your first shot outright (again, it's not about power, but placement, make them run). Flat serves should only be used as a surprise changeup (of course, with an emphasis on placement). On first serves, you should aim for more aggressive placements (short and wide) to force them farther out of position. On second serves, settle for the 3x3 square foot zone at the corner (or the body serve).

2) Hitting on the rise. It should be every player's goal to try and shift the tempo of the rallies into one they are comfortable with (and if possible, one that is uncomfortable for the opponent). Some people use this as an excuse to be lazy for their footwork though. Instead of moving to set up a good shot on the rise, they simply don't move and swat at the ball as it comes up. This is nothing more than a defensive shot, and a low percentage one. Hitting on the rise isn't so much about timing, but footwork and preparation. Timing is involved, but it's relatively simple if your feet are in position and your racket is ready to go early. Hitting on the rise will allow you to keep playing safe rally balls while still pressuring your opponent by taking time away from them.

3) Drive volley and sneak (volley) attacks. This is basically the hitting on the rise variant of approach shots. If you see your opponent in trouble, you can move in before they hit the ball and take the ball out of the air. Again, this should be treated as an approach shot (don't miss it, and just place it deep and off to the side, while avoiding the sidelines). This is genuinely the scariest thing to face as a moonballer. It means you have to go for a little more when you're on the run or they'll (likely) put the ball away with 1 shot.

4) Drop shot/short slice + passing shot. Honestly, the drop shot is just overall not a great shot unless you're already well inside the court. If you try to play it in the middle of a rally from behind the baseline, you'll give away so many free points. If you play it from a position you should be playing it from, you could've just as easily used a normal approach shot. A far better option would be to use a short slice. The goal is to try and get it to bounce twice a few feet before the baseline. It's easier to execute and still does plenty to mess with your opponent's positioning. If you can do a short backhand slice crosscourt, then throw a deep looper to the other side on the next shot, you'll get your opponent moving a lot while hitting tough shots. If you throw the short slice and see them prepare to hit a slice, quickly move a step inside the baseline and halfway into the ad side of the court. The next ball is going to come in slow and weak, allowing you to set up for either a crosscourt forehand (potentially with angle if they drop it short) or move around the ball quickly to take the ball up the line with an inside in forehand (or inside out behind them). The passing shot is so you can punish them if they opt to try and approach off of your slice. If you did a good job of keeping it low, they can't put a lot on the approach and you will have a legitimate look at the pass (don't cheat too far to your backhand corner if they are the type to try and come to the net).

5) Fitness. In all honesty, fitness is a luxury. You don't NEED it to win against a moonballer unless you're REALLY out of shape. As long as your footwork is light and you aren't trying to move a mountain with every groundstroke you hit, you can last a lot longer on the court than you expect, especially if you fully utilize the 20 seconds you have between serves, 90 seconds on changeovers, and 2 minutes between sets. Being more fit strengthens your mental strength because you know you put in the work and can likely outlast your opponent. Not only that, it'll make your movement better and if done right can put a little extra racket head speed on your swings. A moonballer won't hurt you and they won't force you to sprint too often. You will still be moving plenty, but you should be moving lightly and quickly, which takes less energy than hard stops and change of directions.


The one and only strategy video you really need (it all falls into place if you just treat moonballs as their rally balls and focus on keeping your rally balls deep and aim them in the direction dictated in this video):

And for overheads:
So basically you should be federer :p
 
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Morch Us

Professional
I see what you are saying. Essentially if you don't have the right tools, just take your chances so that you don't over pressurize yourself and have a better overall result in match.

Just like when you know that your opponent is a level higher than you, sometimes it is better to just take your chances and play low-percentage tennis (you may get lucky), because playing your high percentage tennis is still leading to a sure loss.

if you're doing it mainly because you don't have a strong base to attack weaker shots.
 

mcs1970

Hall of Fame
I see what you are saying. Essentially if you don't have the right tools, just take your chances so that you don't over pressurize yourself and have a better overall result in match.

Just like when you know that your opponent is a level higher than you, sometimes it is better to just take your chances and play low-percentage tennis (you may get lucky), because playing your high percentage tennis is still leading to a sure loss.
No. That’s not what I am saying. A few dads have posted here how kids who were taught control over power during their formative years plateaued when the kids with power learned control later. Similarly I am saying develop an aggressive mindset on moonballs so that you always think attack first. Develop the skills for that in game situations. Later learn to be a bit more judicious. Don’t learn patience first. Else you will be missing opportunities to put even weak balls away because you are not confident in your overheads or because you are too conditioned to think patience first.

As for the 2nd part again no. Learn to play high percentage tennis even if you get drubbed. Else there is no carryover when you play lower players you should beat.

All I am saying is whether it is overheads or strokes, until you get to a point where you are not bypassing opportunities to attack and seize control of that point, play a more low percentage style. Once you develop the tools and confidence that you can attack whenever needed then start discriminating a bit more. Also this is assuming OP is relatively young. If you are much older maybe control is all you are after.
 

Morch Us

Professional
I have personally seen a lot of kids who played really high level at younger age and was not growing up-to the expectations of their coach/parents later. And also just the reverse as well, some kids who were average as juniors developed into really good college players exceeding expectations. And yes, this happens often, in ALL playing styles. Dads just view things in a specific way, but that is just part of the process of growing up. Yes I agree many kids are better taught aggressiveness earlier. One of the big reason is they just don't have the mental toughness developed yet, and working on their strokes and one or two stroke finishes are better at that age, most of the time. It also encourages them to be brave without thinking too much about consequences. Once in a while you do see some kids who have exceptional intellectual abilities at young ages though. It is just too complicated, and a lot of variables come into play. And yes just because you are #1 in junior tennis does not mean that much when you come to college tennis or professional tennis.

Either way, I was never recommending to be overly defensive, even for adults. (just was not recommending to be overly aggressive).

A few dads have posted here how kids who were taught control over power during their formative years plateaued when the kids with power learned control later.
I was assuming he is an adult recreational player.
assuming OP is relatively young
 
Last edited:

ptuanminh

Hall of Fame
Learn to hit the ball in the air (swing volley, overhead, volley, semi-volley...) Moonballs are best practice for these types of shots.
 

JohnYandell

Hall of Fame
S and V,
Most moonballers play deep and that opens the front of the court. Drop shot gets them out of comfort zone and opens up lob and or easy passes.
 
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