What to do with short balls?

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by FedExpress117, Jan 6, 2010.

  1. FedExpress117

    FedExpress117 Rookie

    Oct 9, 2009
    I usually make the mistake of "hitting it hard" when I get a really short ball, but of course I feel that these short balls are my best chances to finish the point so I have to do something. I use a right handed Western grip so my topspin forces a high short ball eventually, but this is where I lose most of my points. Do I want to be thinking purely angle, no matter how slow the ball is? When I do this angle, obviously I'll have to use more topspin (or just not hit the ball as hard) to keep the ball in play, but this still has to be a "calm, smooth" shot for me right? Of course even if I hit a good angle shot I still feel like I have to put some pace on it so the opponent never even touches the ball. Is this where I think use more topspin to keep a powerful angle shot in play?
  2. Steady Eddy

    Steady Eddy Hall of Fame

    Jul 19, 2007
    I agree that it's a puzzle to know what to do with these. When I started in tennis, I was content to simply try to out steady my opponent, but the problem was the short balls. Often, they would force me to be at the net, and then I'd get passed or lobbed. I'd heard that the goal was to keep the ball deep, but really I found it was the short ones that gave me trouble. I asked my pro, and he told me, "Oh yeah, the short ball. Those give everyone trouble." That didn't help.:???:

    After giving it alot of thought I've found that I can't just return the short ball the way I can the deep ball. Since I'm going to be at the net, I can't play it safe like I normally like to. You've got to hit a crisp shot into one of the corners. If you can execute this you'll either get an easy volley or maybe an outright winner. But if you just push it back into the middle of the court, you'll be a sitting duck if your opponent is any good at all. I hit mine flat or with backspin, but if you'd prefer topspin, that's ok.
  3. fruitytennis1

    fruitytennis1 Professional

    Jul 23, 2009
    I wish i knew
    My new friend the drop shot
  4. Blake0

    Blake0 Hall of Fame

    Feb 17, 2009
    Anticipate the ball earlier. Try to get to the ball when it bounces, so you are set up when it reaches it's height. If you are set up and ready to swing when the ball is clearly a foot atleast over the net, go ahead and try for a winner. But if it drops to net level or lower, it's better to go for placement into a corner or pull them out wide. Also a slice is a good shot to use too.
  5. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

    Mar 31, 2008
    There are a lot of different kinds of short balls and some lend themselves more to one attack or another. It they are high and soft enough to be a sitter, it is good to smack them smartly to the open court, but still maintain a position at net to handle any reply they may muster.

    Lower soft short balls may be easier to slice deep or angle off short OR drop shot; But again be ready to finish at net.
  6. Bagumbawalla

    Bagumbawalla Hall of Fame

    Jun 24, 2006
    What you do with, or can do with a short ball depends on a variety of things-- how short, how much pace, how low (or high), the type of spin-- and, most importantly, your ability to do what you want with the ball once you get to it.

    If it is short- say just past the service line and in your strike zone or even a bit lower, and if you have a good topspin stroke, you should be able to hit a winner or, at least, put some pressure on the opponent by hitting wide or, possibly, deep to one of the corners.

    If it is really short, and low, possibly with some awkward spin, then, you just want to place the ball as best you can and try to cut off the possible angles of a return.

    By definition you should never try to do "too much"-- and definately play the ball smoothly and cleanly without any awkward forcing or unnatural motions that you may be inventing on the spur of the moment.

    Concentrate on the basics as you prepare to hit the ball and don't just hit it--- hit the ball with a definite purpose to a definate spot. If the ball lands where you intended, then you know you are doing the right things.

    Meanwhile practice-- there is nothing more discouraging than getting a difficult ball and thinking, "Now, what do I do with this?" So have someone hit (or toss) you some short balls and have a couple targets-- cones, towels, cans-- and alternate your placements from one to the other- until you feel it is so effortless you could do it under pressure in a tournament without a second thought.
  7. ManuGinobili

    ManuGinobili Hall of Fame

    Jun 4, 2009
    Your writing is pretty confusing lol so forgive me if I misinterpreted

    Wrong mentality... Only top pros can consistently create angled winners. Generally you hit with angle to put the opponent out of position, and set up for the kill or make him run some more, NOT to go for the winner right away. Furthermore pace and angle are a combination that drastically reduces margin of error.

    You didn't describe what happened.... We can't help by just spitting out idealism that will magically work right away. That's like telling a surgeon to operate on a patient but not where and what's wrong lol. So elaborate on what went wrong.

    I'll make a silly guess that on instances you hit an approach shot, you try to create a big angle. Angled balls open up the court, and create a bigger angle for your opponent to hit a passing shot than he/she would normally have. So if the opponent is fast and can get to that shot, you're in trouble.

    You want them to hit a passing shot way out of their comfort zone. Try these simple keys:

    - Deep: aim for the ball to land as close to the corner of the court as possible.
    - Spin: under spin or topspin, the more the merrier (do not sacrifice accuracy in order to spin wildly though)
    You want a ball that lands near the opponent's feet, with a wild bounce that their backhand (in most cases, since this is the side that's less "flexible" to different shots) cannot react to.

    Watch pros play for examples of this. Roddick and Nadal have very obvious long follow through on their slice. Some pros do a big push off the front leg for more spin. And they do not hit it hard.

    ... Or you can just smack it, lol. Only if it's an easy ball though.
  8. HunterST

    HunterST Hall of Fame

    Jun 12, 2009
    haha this is almost identical to the thread I made just a few hours before this one.
  9. fuzz nation

    fuzz nation G.O.A.T.

    Oct 20, 2006
    I love to press at the net, so a short ball is an invitation for me to move forward. I can slice fine off either wing and if I park the ball nice and deep on my way in, my opponent can't really blow the ball into much of an angle. A decent approach will leave that opponent pinned deep in their end with a low skidder to deal with. It often induces a mediocre reply if that player doesn't panic and go for a really low percentage miracle shot.

    If you're not going to net, you also have the opportunity to hit into more of an angle off a short ball. It's important to avoid the sucker shot where you go after the highlight reel winner right away. Keep your stroke routine and think of only getting your opponent on the run. Once you've got 'em out of position, the actual winner that you hit perhaps one or two shots later will simply be a routine, high percentage rally ball through the open court.

    Tell yourself "set up", not "put away" when you recognize that short ball.
  10. charliefedererer

    charliefedererer Legend

    Feb 13, 2009
    At first, as you practice, keep it simple:

    1. Ball lower than the net: be content to slice or drive it down the line deep and follow it into the net.

    2. Ball higher than the net: hit a winner to the open court. Your higher percentage shot is crosscourt if your oponent is neutrally positioned, but don't get too predictable unless you see he never gets to your cross court putaway anyway.

    (Hint: a ball machine is good to practice a few hundred of these each week. Tennis is not a "I learned it once" activity; it takes constant practice to stay sharp.)

Share This Page