Topspin approach shots. Yea or nay?

HunterST

Hall of Fame
#1
Off of a short ball, do you think topspin approach shots are a good idea? The high bounce and pace seem to be giving your opponent ideal conditions to hit a passing shot.

I'm trying to get away from just going for winners off of short balls, so what do you think is the best tactical move?
 

zalive

Hall of Fame
#2
Why should bounce be high? Learn to hit topspin approach balls with lower trajectory and net clearance.

But generally, when approach shot is going to the corner, since you open a huge space for the passing shot, you want to make sure it has enough pace on it for your opponent not to have the best situation to hit whatever he wishes. You want him to be late on the ball.
 
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#3
Maybe is topspin quite handy to keep the ball in when you play a hard topspin approach??
And when you keep the ball low, there will be no high contactpoint.. Maybe watch some tennis on tv, then you will see it.


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#4
Depends on how high the ball is when you get to it. If the ball is net height or higher, it should be an easy one to angle off for a putaway. If the ball is lower than knee height, it’s a lot tougher to hit it hard enough for the putaway without increasing the chance you’ll hit it long. In that case, a slice approach is a better choice.
 

HunterST

Hall of Fame
#5
Depends on how high the ball is when you get to it. If the ball is net height or higher, it should be an easy one to angle off for a putaway. If the ball is lower than knee height, it’s a lot tougher to hit it hard enough for the putaway without increasing the chance you’ll hit it long. In that case, a slice approach is a better choice.
Good points, but I'm trying to stop thinking of them as "put aways." My goal is to start treating more short balls as approach shots and, if they happen to be winners, then that's great. So what's the best shot assuming that the opponent gets to the ball? Topspin DTL to their forehand? Maybe go TS cross court to their backhand?
 
#6
Good points, but I'm trying to stop thinking of them as "put aways." My goal is to start treating more short balls as approach shots and, if they happen to be winners, then that's great. So what's the best shot assuming that the opponent gets to the ball? Topspin DTL to their forehand? Maybe go TS cross court to their backhand?
Approach crosscourt is always a good idea.. to get passed..


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ChaelAZ

Hall of Fame
#7
I tend to go flat with little TS to keep the ball low for a winner, or worst case make them pop it up for the putaway at the net.
 
#8
Off of a short ball, do you think topspin approach shots are a good idea? The high bounce and pace seem to be giving your opponent ideal conditions to hit a passing shot.

I'm trying to get away from just going for winners off of short balls, so what do you think is the best tactical move?
it depends...

scenario1: they hit a short low slice to draw you in, because you're a beast at the baseline
presuming you don't retreat back to the baseline , and accept the challenge, they are probably in position to comfortably get your next shot... i'd hit a slice deep approach shot, ideally with some sidespin, knowing they will get it, but also knowing a) they will be rushed hitting on the rise b) have to hit up on a low ball skidding ball - hopefully making your volley/oh easy

scenario2: you hit a forcing shot, that drives them off the court, but they manage to get a low slowish short defensive slice back, and you're there in plenty of time to setup
i'd hit a topspin shot to take away time... dtl to go behind them, cc, ideally short cc, increase the angle, and just make them run more

there's also the question, of:
* what specific shots can you execute?
* what strengths/weakness does your opp have?
<others>
 
#9
it depends...

scenario1: they hit a short low slice to draw you in, because you're a beast at the baseline
presuming you don't retreat back to the baseline , and accept the challenge, they are probably in position to comfortably get your next shot... i'd hit a slice deep approach shot, ideally with some sidespin, knowing they will get it, but also knowing a) they will be rushed hitting on the rise b) have to hit up on a low ball skidding ball - hopefully making your volley/oh easy

scenario2: you hit a forcing shot, that drives them off the court, but they manage to get a low slowish short defensive slice back, and you're there in plenty of time to setup
i'd hit a topspin shot to take away time... dtl to go behind them, cc, ideally short cc, increase the angle, and just make them run more

there's also the question, of:
* what specific shots can you execute?
* what strengths/weakness does your opp have?
<others>
Also, don't underestimate the value of hitting it down the middle: it takes angles away from the opponent and makes him generate his own. If he's a flat ball hitter, he won't be as capable of this as a heavy TSer.
 
#13
Absolutely, there are certainly times to hit slice approaches. But the most important thing is that you make your opponent move to hit the pass. You can use the topspin to push them behind the baseline which gives you more time to close the net and create an easier volley.

 
#14
Off of a short ball, do you think topspin approach shots are a good idea? The high bounce and pace seem to be giving your opponent ideal conditions to hit a passing shot.

I'm trying to get away from just going for winners off of short balls, so what do you think is the best tactical move?
Absolutely not. Hit a hard deep slice!
 
#15
Good points, but I'm trying to stop thinking of them as "put aways." My goal is to start treating more short balls as approach shots and, if they happen to be winners, then that's great. So what's the best shot assuming that the opponent gets to the ball? Topspin DTL to their forehand? Maybe go TS cross court to their backhand?
I think it IS a good idea to think of them as putaways. If you downgrade from putaway to approach shot, I think you're moving backwards. Go for the putaway, and if your opponent manages to barely get a racquet on the ball. That should be a really easy one to finish off.
 
#16
I think it IS a good idea to think of them as putaways. If you downgrade from putaway to approach shot, I think you're moving backwards. Go for the putaway, and if your opponent manages to barely get a racquet on the ball. That should be a really easy one to finish off.
Uh.....nope. The idea is to get a weak reply or lob. You may get passed, but the odds are with you.
 
#17
Uh.....nope. The idea is to get a weak reply or lob. You may get passed, but the odds are with you.
Let's see if we're on the same page. The dilemma is whether to go for an outright winner, or hit an approach shot. With the approach shot you're more or less conceding that he'll get to hit, it's that you slice it so the ball has a low bounce, forcing him to hit up.

Well, if you go for the winner, and somehow he barely gets to it, that's going to be a weak reply anyhow. So if you have the ability to hit winners off of short balls, that seems a better idea than trying an approach shot.
 
#18
I think it IS a good idea to think of them as putaways. If you downgrade from putaway to approach shot, I think you're moving backwards. Go for the putaway, and if your opponent manages to barely get a racquet on the ball. That should be a really easy one to finish off.
The problem with thinking "putaway" is your targeting: you may aim much closer to the lines than your accuracy allows and end up hitting out.
 

FiReFTW

Hall of Fame
#19
You should think about aproaching the net when u hit a good topspin shot that drives them to sprint to the ball and u see they will be stretched and cant hit a good shot back.
 

zalive

Hall of Fame
#21
Also, don't underestimate the value of hitting it down the middle: it takes angles away from the opponent and makes him generate his own. If he's a flat ball hitter, he won't be as capable of this as a heavy TSer.
Place it nice and deep preferrably in their body, give them little time to hit.

Let's see if we're on the same page. The dilemma is whether to go for an outright winner, or hit an approach shot. With the approach shot you're more or less conceding that he'll get to hit, it's that you slice it so the ball has a low bounce, forcing him to hit up.

Well, if you go for the winner, and somehow he barely gets to it, that's going to be a weak reply anyhow. So if you have the ability to hit winners off of short balls, that seems a better idea than trying an approach shot.
Doesn't going for winners on short balls generate more UEs?
 
#22
If the ball is close to the net and low to the ground, then you should consider slicing it and/or hitting it crosscourt to give your serve more room to hit it harder.
 

zalive

Hall of Fame
#23
If the ball is close to the net and low to the ground, then you should consider slicing it and/or hitting it crosscourt to give your serve more room to hit it harder.
My choice was push it deep to the corner, DTL was more common choice because of shorter distance. Just need to push it using your speed from the run and aim low over the net, those usually went into straight winners. This was my specialy back in the day when I was younger, had healthier knees and was generally quicker, I could practically do it no matter how short the ball was - once you set your targetting devices it works like a charm.

One more thing to the OP: approach shot needs to be deep, no matter where it's heading, no matter what pace is on it, no matter topspin, flat or backspin. Exceptions are drop shot and angled approach shots.

One of my hitting partners gave me lot of headache by playing DTL sliced low approach shots to my BH side. No pace, low contact, hard to lob, hard to hit, have to run to them and not much time to prepare, great stuff. I'd gladly hit such myself however I don't slice well with my FH.
 
#24
An approach is generally suppose to give you the advantage. Topspin allows you to hit aggressively and bring that ball back into the court. It also can allow you to hit acute angles to make the opponent hit on the run outstretched.
I played a D1 17yr junior prospect a month ago. My normal drive approaches weren't good enough to push him back and he was hitting well on the run, so I was winning maybe 50% of my approaches and diving and stretching too! Working way too hard for the effort. He was so fast, I even lost a point because I thought I hit a winning volley and dropped my racquet, only for him to lunge and hit a winner past me, while I looked like a fool! LOL
So to mix it up, I started approaching on topspin cross court angles approaches in the mix, so he'd either lob or try to pass near the trams, which lowered his %. It allowed him to hit some spectacular cross court winners but my net wins went up to 60+%. Managed to stretch it to 7-5 in the 3rd.
 

FiReFTW

Hall of Fame
#25
An approach is generally suppose to give you the advantage. Topspin allows you to hit aggressively and bring that ball back into the court. It also can allow you to hit acute angles to make the opponent hit on the run outstretched.
I played a D1 17yr junior prospect a month ago. My normal drive approaches weren't good enough to push him back and he was hitting well on the run, so I was winning maybe 50% of my approaches and diving and stretching too! Working way too hard for the effort. He was so fast, I even lost a point because I thought I hit a winning volley and dropped my racquet, only for him to lunge and hit a winner past me, while I looked like a fool! LOL
So to mix it up, I started approaching on topspin cross court angles approaches in the mix, so he'd either lob or try to pass near the trams, which lowered his %. It allowed him to hit some spectacular cross court winners but my net wins went up to 60+%. Managed to stretch it to 7-5 in the 3rd.
I would add it also depends on opponent, some find the slice very hard so its a very good aproach shot, while others find it easy, for example Nadal eats up slices for breakfast and hits passing shots from slices all day long, with such a type of player you need to more look at hitting aggressive shots that make him run and really stretch, otherwise you are in trouble.
 
#26
Let's see if we're on the same page. The dilemma is whether to go for an outright winner, or hit an approach shot. With the approach shot you're more or less conceding that he'll get to hit, it's that you slice it so the ball has a low bounce, forcing him to hit up.

Well, if you go for the winner, and somehow he barely gets to it, that's going to be a weak reply anyhow. So if you have the ability to hit winners off of short balls, that seems a better idea than trying an approach shot.
It depends on the height of the ball when you get to it. If you can reach it when it’s high enough, then you can go for the winner. If the ball is below knee height and dropping, it’s more difficult to try to hit a winner vs hitting a deep approach shot.
 
#27
Off of a short ball, do you think topspin approach shots are a good idea? The high bounce and pace seem to be giving your opponent ideal conditions to hit a passing shot.

I'm trying to get away from just going for winners off of short balls, so what do you think is the best tactical move?
The slice was the first shot I learned, so I still have a soft spot and use it all the time as an approach shot.

The thing for me is that when I hit an approach shot, I'm assuming that the other guy will get to it and that the ball is coming back. So I want more time to get set up at the net and I want my shot to be outside my opponent's strike zone to ensure a weaker reply more often. A slice travels a little less quickly than a topspin drive, so I can get better positioned for a stronger volley... check. The low-skidding bounce of a slice can also stay under my opponent's strike zone - as long as I'm not having a go with Rafa... check.

Yes, a topspin approach shot can put an opponent into scramble mode when you have a big area of open court to go for and the short ball you're hitting has bounced up where you can comfortably drive it instead having to hit it with too much loopy topspin. But I'll admit that even this short ball that's sitting up is really easy for me to "cut" down into an opponent's feet when I'm playing doubles and looking to force the other guys to hit up to my team. Even if they don't have to scramble, there's not much they can do against that cutter down on their shoes.

Unless you're going for a winner where you're essentially hitting a routine topspin rally ball through a yawning chunk of open court the size of a barn, the slice can be an ideal approach. You can leave your opponent very defensive with this shot, even when you hit it right at them. But it's a different animal that does demand some practice.

The depth of your approach shots can sometimes be the #1 priority - it basically forces your opponent to hit from further away. If your topspin approach is easier to place deep in your opponent's end more often, then it could be your best option. I'm comfortable with hitting a nice biting slice with really good placement, so that's why it's my go-to approach.
 
#28
Let's see if we're on the same page. The dilemma is whether to go for an outright winner, or hit an approach shot. With the approach shot you're more or less conceding that he'll get to hit, it's that you slice it so the ball has a low bounce, forcing him to hit up.

Well, if you go for the winner, and somehow he barely gets to it, that's going to be a weak reply anyhow. So if you have the ability to hit winners off of short balls, that seems a better idea than trying an approach shot.
I see many, many players try to hit winners from short balls, or crosscourt topspin approach shots, and see many, many errors and lost points. Once you get near the service line, you should hit the ball so that it stays in front of you, with slice.
 
#30
I think it depends on your net game and how it comes into your strategy.

If you only tend to come in to cut off weaker replies then topspin all day. It's basically an aggressive forcing shot rather than approach shot, the traditional approach shot is almost non-existent on the ATP and WTA tour.

If you like coming in often and so need the time to get into a strong position then slice it. Harder to do on fh side. Easier to do on fast courts.

Let's see if we're on the same page. The dilemma is whether to go for an outright winner, or hit an approach shot. With the approach shot you're more or less conceding that he'll get to hit, it's that you slice it so the ball has a low bounce, forcing him to hit up.

Well, if you go for the winner, and somehow he barely gets to it, that's going to be a weak reply anyhow. So if you have the ability to hit winners off of short balls, that seems a better idea than trying an approach shot.
There is a middle ground. Hit a decent forcing shot and cut off the weak reply at the net. Topspin is perfect for angles and taking time away so your opponent has to it it on the run.
 
#31
I'm a big fan of slice. DTL ideally. But angled slice drops really quickly. So slicing Cross Court is ok. Only thing is if the bounce blow net height you really want to try and get a lot of sidespin. Of course slice with a lot of side into the corner is approach shot Heaven.

But at least at my 4.0 level I find for those low shots slicing with a lot of side into the middle of the court is more effective. A lot of people eyes light up and they think they can tee off on it. Not many can.

In fact I had a funny one where the guy had a good forehand but just wasn't seeing the sidespin at all. Kept trying to hit harder and eventually got one stuck in the throat of the racquet.
 
#35
Depends:

- On an approach shot, the most important thing is to get it in...if you have to shovel it down the middle, or hit a less than optimum topspin shot, don't worry about it...you just made your opponent hit one more ball, which is what tennis is all about.

- As above, don't try to go for two much re pace. If you just block or chip the ball and make your opponent run three steps(the age old rule..), and follow the ball, you'll generally win the point.

- If you are comfortable hitting topspin, and less so hitting slice, whomp a big topspin approach...the worst thing you can do on an approach shot (or any shot) is apply some last second Einsteinian time-space logic...watch the ball, hit it hard, and don't think...

Off of a short ball, do you think topspin approach shots are a good idea? The high bounce and pace seem to be giving your opponent ideal conditions to hit a passing shot.

I'm trying to get away from just going for winners off of short balls, so what do you think is the best tactical move?
 
#37
Here's something to consider:

If your slice approach sits up and your opponent is hitting the ball near or just inside the baseline, it may become ineffective at a certain level. If your topspin lands in the same place, but forces your opponent back 3-4 feet or more behind the baseline, that may be more effective.

It all depends on the level of play and your opponent's abilities, of course.

I once played someone who was a great baseline retriever and who had solid volleys, but I accidentally discovered that if I hit a little bit short he wouldn't get up to the ball quickly and instead, he'd take a step into no-man's land and roll the ball back and if I was able to hit the next ball deep, he really had trouble backpedaling to deal with it. He was a very good player from sideline to sideline, but once I started moving him in and out, he seemed to falter.

With that in mind, any shot that causes your opponent to hit an uncomfortable shot can be an approach shot.
 
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#38
I once played someone who was a great baseline retriever and who had solid volleys, but I accidentally discovered that if I hit a little bit short he wouldn't get up to the ball quickly and instead, he'd take a step into no-man's land and roll the ball back and if I was able to hit the next ball deep, he really had trouble backpedaling to deal with it. He was a very good player from sideline to sideline, but once I started moving him in and out, he seemed to falter.
That's the same thing that Brad Gilbert discovered about Aaron Krickstein: AK had a fearsome FH but Gilbert found that if he hit it short with slice, AK's fearsome FH became normal.

I once accidentally discovered the same thing, being down 3-6 0-2: I started hitting short and angled and he started missing lines by 2' fairly consistently.

That's why having a "never give up" attitude can pay off, big time.
 
#39
I love to hit CC topspin FHs until I get a short ball and then hit a topspin DTL FH as an approach shot. The topspin approach is a little lower trajectory so it gets to the opponents baseline faster.
 
#40
That's the same thing that Brad Gilbert discovered about Aaron Krickstein: AK had a fearsome FH but Gilbert found that if he hit it short with slice, AK's fearsome FH became normal.

.
I believe this applies all the way down to 3.0
Everyone can hit the basic shot they have hit 50,000 times. Baseline rally. Everything changes when it's 3 steps away
 
#41
I love to hit CC topspin FHs until I get a short ball and then hit a topspin DTL FH as an approach shot. The topspin approach is a little lower trajectory so it gets to the opponents baseline faster.
I will do this quite frequently. My tactic is to hit the DTL topspin approach with a super brushy stroke so that it bounces inside the service line and then is set to bounce again at the baseline. That produces a pretty low shot for the opponent to try to pass with.

The reason I do this is I often don't know whether the short ball will sit up for me to go for a winner or require an approach shot strategy. So i come in with my SW FH grip. If its high enough I hit hard and deep topspin drive. If its low or I get there late i hit the flippy approach shot that gets to the baseline low.

Now if I'm approaching off my BH, I always hit that with slice as I'm always in conti grip on that wing.
 
#42
I will do this quite frequently. My tactic is to hit the DTL topspin approach with a super brushy stroke so that it bounces inside the service line and then is set to bounce again at the baseline. That produces a pretty low shot for the opponent to try to pass with.

The reason I do this is I often don't know whether the short ball will sit up for me to go for a winner or require an approach shot strategy. So i come in with my SW FH grip. If its high enough I hit hard and deep topspin drive. If its low or I get there late i hit the flippy approach shot that gets to the baseline low.

Now if I'm approaching off my BH, I always hit that with slice as I'm always in conti grip on that wing.
If it is high, I try to hit it crisply and inject some pace but my thought process isn't "hit a winner". Sometimes the winners happen though. If it is low, I will either try to get it up and down with topspin by brushing a bit more or if it is really low, I will use underspin DTL ball and just aim to get it deep. I don't ever try to make it land short with topspin as I think that's too risky - ball will sit up and give them too much time. Only time I use a shorter approach is if I can hit down on a high back and get a lot of underspin to keep it really low.
 
#43
If your opponent is far away from your target corner, then high-kicking topspin will give you the advantage in that your opponent will have a harder time reaching the ball (due to the Pythagorean Theorem). I've seen Federer use this approach to good effect.
 
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