Why Don't Women Serve and Volley?

#1
I guess I get (not really) why men don't serve and volley very much anymore, but why not women? The article below suggests that it's very effective and hardly ever used by women. I think men should serve and volley more as well.

Sometimes conventional wisdom in sports is wrong, sometimes there's more to the story. So which is it?

https://fivethirtyeight.com/feature...rks-but-womens-tennis-players-arent-using-it/
 
#3
Women are weaker on serve than on return.

If you look at average ground stroke speed WTA is like 6-7 mph slower than atp, but serve is like 20 mph slower. Because of this there are way more breaks in the WTA. Women are a little weaker in the ground strokes too but they can still hit them pretty big while most serves are pretty weak with a few exceptions (Williams, goerges, Osaka, sabalenka).
 

IowaGuy

Hall of Fame
#4
Women are weaker on serve than on return.

If you look at average ground stroke speed WTA is like 6-7 mph slower than atp, but serve is like 20 mph slower. Because of this there are way more breaks in the WTA. Women are a little weaker in the ground strokes too but they can still hit them pretty big while most serves are pretty weak with a few exceptions (Williams, goerges, Osaka, sabalenka).
Wouldn't this have still been the case in the 1980's when Martina was kicking butt including against Graf?
 
#5
Say hello to the elephant in the living room!!

A huge component of this discussion has to do with an indictment of the current coaching culture. Some folks (including former WTA and ATP pros) make a strong case claiming that too many big-shot coaches have abandoned the long-term goal of developing players with complete skill sets. Instead they go for the shortcut to success by training their kids to hit big strokes and serves that turn them into local winners in a big hurry. These coaches churn out "winners" and more folks in the area sign up their kids. Lather - rinse - repeat.

But that training approach leaves the attacking portion of the game, including S&V play, as an afterthought. When kids don't learn that stuff early on, it's tough to reinvent themselves later on and many just stick with what they know.

Each time I see a WTA match where two bangers just hammer away from the baseline, I chalk it up as another exercise in stupidity. Time and again we've seen contenders go out against the best like Serena, Sharapova, Azarenka, etc. (when they were at their peak) and those hopeful challengers did nothing more than try to outgun those big hitters from the baseline - no Plan B. No mystery as to who dominated, right?

Now that there aren't those few dominant baseliners anymore, we routinely see these upsets around the WTA at every tourney. It seems to boil down to not much more than another case of who got hot for this or that tourney. Good for you, here's your trophy. But nobody can stay hot for long and stay successful in a mode of play that's too much of a 50-50 proposition too often.

Hard for me to believe that this strategy of more-of-the-same has endured for this long. Aggie Radwanska took up residence in the top ten for a long time and even cracked the top five for a long stretch with all sorts of variety in her game, but none of the baseline power or big serving we saw among her peers. The one who is giving me a lot of belief is Ashleigh Barty. She's not a pure serve and volleyer, but she can do that and also attack a short ball as well as anybody around the WTA. Her "sudden" success is no surprise to me at all, but I'm still waiting for a generation to wake up and get the memo.
 

MathGeek

Hall of Fame
#6
I guess I get (not really) why men don't serve and volley very much anymore, but why not women? The article below suggests that it's very effective and hardly ever used by women. I think men should serve and volley more as well.

Sometimes conventional wisdom in sports is wrong, sometimes there's more to the story. So which is it?

https://fivethirtyeight.com/feature...rks-but-womens-tennis-players-arent-using-it/

Have you seen D Collins in the AO? Lots of serving and volleying skill there. Not sure how long it will last for her, but she is exciting to watch and has had a good run.

Regarding amateur ladies in rec leagues, almost all of them are limited in mobility. Being shorter (than most men), they tend to be easy to lob against, and they just don't like having to chase down the lobs. Transitioning from the baseline to the net is also a more difficult process for most rec ladies.
 
#7
Women are weaker on serve than on return.

If you look at average ground stroke speed WTA is like 6-7 mph slower than atp, but serve is like 20 mph slower. Because of this there are way more breaks in the WTA. Women are a little weaker in the ground strokes too but they can still hit them pretty big while most serves are pretty weak with a few exceptions (Williams, goerges, Osaka, sabalenka).
Martina Navratilova offered her opinion during a match - maybe last year - concerning the state of things around the WTA. She make a pretty strong case that too many of the ladies in the game neglect their serves and focus on their returns and strokes. I found it rather easy to agree with her - she specifically pointed out how so few of the women can reliably hold serve. Too often they're only using their serves to start a rally and not control the opening action of their points. Hard to disagree with her.
 
#8
Wouldn't this have still been the case in the 1980's when Martina was kicking butt including against Graf?
To some extent but you couldn't really rip ground strokes with those rackets like you can do now. When Martina was at her best many still wood rackets. By the late 80s when most went graphite she wasn't as dominant anymore.
 

IowaGuy

Hall of Fame
#9
To some extent but you couldn't really rip ground strokes with those rackets like you can do now. When Martina was at her best many still wood rackets. By the late 80s when most went graphite she wasn't as dominant anymore.
Graf never played Martina with a wood racket, and Martina was 9-9 lifetime against Graf (who ripped groundstrokes pretty well).
 
#11
Women are weaker on serve than on return.

If you look at average ground stroke speed WTA is like 6-7 mph slower than atp, but serve is like 20 mph slower. Because of this there are way more breaks in the WTA. Women are a little weaker in the ground strokes too but they can still hit them pretty big while most serves are pretty weak with a few exceptions (Williams, goerges, Osaka, sabalenka).
Slower serves are typical with serve and volley to give the server time to get in. There's some exceptions of course, but it's about placement rather than pace - that way the server can take control over the return.

I would guess that it has more to do with the expanded skill set that is needed to serve and volley, as well as the belief that the best way to win is to make fewer unforced errors. They are just too conservative in their thinking. I really don't know that answer.
 
#12
Have you seen D Collins in the AO? Lots of serving and volleying skill there. Not sure how long it will last for her, but she is exciting to watch and has had a good run.

Regarding amateur ladies in rec leagues, almost all of them are limited in mobility. Being shorter (than most men), they tend to be easy to lob against, and they just don't like having to chase down the lobs. Transitioning from the baseline to the net is also a more difficult process for most rec ladies.
I have not watched here but will. Maybe it's time for a change?
 
#13
Say hello to the elephant in the living room!!

A huge component of this discussion has to do with an indictment of the current coaching culture. Some folks (including former WTA and ATP pros) make a strong case claiming that too many big-shot coaches have abandoned the long-term goal of developing players with complete skill sets. Instead they go for the shortcut to success by training their kids to hit big strokes and serves that turn them into local winners in a big hurry. These coaches churn out "winners" and more folks in the area sign up their kids. Lather - rinse - repeat.

But that training approach leaves the attacking portion of the game, including S&V play, as an afterthought. When kids don't learn that stuff early on, it's tough to reinvent themselves later on and many just stick with what they know.

Each time I see a WTA match where two bangers just hammer away from the baseline, I chalk it up as another exercise in stupidity. Time and again we've seen contenders go out against the best like Serena, Sharapova, Azarenka, etc. (when they were at their peak) and those hopeful challengers did nothing more than try to outgun those big hitters from the baseline - no Plan B. No mystery as to who dominated, right?

Now that there aren't those few dominant baseliners anymore, we routinely see these upsets around the WTA at every tourney. It seems to boil down to not much more than another case of who got hot for this or that tourney. Good for you, here's your trophy. But nobody can stay hot for long and stay successful in a mode of play that's too much of a 50-50 proposition too often.

Hard for me to believe that this strategy of more-of-the-same has endured for this long. Aggie Radwanska took up residence in the top ten for a long time and even cracked the top five for a long stretch with all sorts of variety in her game, but none of the baseline power or big serving we saw among her peers. The one who is giving me a lot of belief is Ashleigh Barty. She's not a pure serve and volleyer, but she can do that and also attack a short ball as well as anybody around the WTA. Her "sudden" success is no surprise to me at all, but I'm still waiting for a generation to wake up and get the memo.

It's certainly something that has to start early, but I'd think with certain kind of players who have an aggressive mentality that it would work. Hell half of them are afraid to hit a swinging volley let alone come to the net.
 
#14
S&V is just one tactic, so I am not sure why people hang their definition of a complete game on it. Plenty of players close at the net weather on the serve or in the piont isn't an issue to me.
 
#15
S&V is just one tactic, so I am not sure why people hang their definition of a complete game on it. Plenty of players close at the net weather on the serve or in the piont isn't an issue to me.
Serve and volley isn't coming to the net to finish off a wounded duck, or closing out a point when you're opponent is in serious trouble. It's an intentional tactic to assume control over a point from the beginning, and as the article pointed out it works 75% of the time, but was only used in 1% of the points. You'd think with a success rate like that women would try it more often. I'm not sure there's a tactic with a better success rate than that for any player.
 

MathGeek

Hall of Fame
#16
Serve and volley isn't coming to the net to finish off a wounded duck, or closing out a point when you're opponent is in serious trouble. It's an intentional tactic to assume control over a point from the beginning, and as the article pointed out it works 75% of the time, but was only used in 1% of the points. You'd think with a success rate like that women would try it more often. I'm not sure there's a tactic with a better success rate than that for any player.
Sure, but coming to the net requires a good approach shot to be a high percentage play. Pros are great lobbers and pretty good passers on the whole, so you need to come in on approach shots that present some level of difficulty. For S&V, the serve _is_ the approach shot. A combination of placement, pace, speed, and surprise are all required. Few women hit serves well enough to be reliable approach shots, especially when combined with diminished burst speed and height to execute the net game after the serve.
 
#17
Maybe they all watched Djokovic rise to prominence and modelled their games after him.

it's not just in the women's game and it's not just coaching. What can you do when technology favors big groundstrokes? Put 65 sq in rackets in everyone's hands and you'll see S&V return.
 

Wise one

Professional
#18
I guess I get (not really) why men don't serve and volley very much anymore, but why not women? The article below suggests that it's very effective and hardly ever used by women. I think men should serve and volley more as well.

Sometimes conventional wisdom in sports is wrong, sometimes there's more to the story. So which is it?

https://fivethirtyeight.com/feature...rks-but-womens-tennis-players-arent-using-it/
Half of the teaching pros are morons, the other half are idiots.
 
#19
Sure, but coming to the net requires a good approach shot to be a high percentage play. Pros are great lobbers and pretty good passers on the whole, so you need to come in on approach shots that present some level of difficulty. For S&V, the serve _is_ the approach shot. A combination of placement, pace, speed, and surprise are all required. Few women hit serves well enough to be reliable approach shots, especially when combined with diminished burst speed and height to execute the net game after the serve.
I think you are on to something, but I'd just counter that there's no reason that a women can't learn to place a serve as well as a man, and even if they don't have the athletic ability that men do they are serving to athletes that also don't have that kind of ability. So, relatively speaking I would think they have at least as much potential to do this as men. I just think maybe there's a tradition in women's tennis toward risk aversion ala Chris Evert. Maybe they have all been taught to just hit the safe ground strokes and let your opponent make the mistake.
 
#20
Maybe they all watched Djokovic rise to prominence and modelled their games after him.

it's not just in the women's game and it's not just coaching. What can you do when technology favors big groundstrokes? Put 65 sq in rackets in everyone's hands and you'll see S&V return.
That's clearly got something to do with it. But just power ground strokes won't do it against a good serve volley player. The harder the ball is hit the more power the volleyer has to work with and the more likely the ball will be up in the volley strike zone. And, powering the ball by them is not a winning strategy usually either. That's a low percentage strategy against a serve and volleyer.

The defense against serve and volley is to take something off the return and get it at their feet or over their heads. So, maybe it's the new strings that allow for more spin that makes the difference. That top spin ball that dips to the feet is the one that's the hardest to get, and not that hard to hit, and if they do get it they can't do much with it. That low spiny return shot is a lot easier to hit with today's equipment.
 
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sureshs

Bionic Poster
#21
Serve and volley requires CONFIDENCE in your serve, not just the ability to somehow get a serve in, which is what happens in the WTA.

You also need to be tall to take big steps forward and have a wide wing span at the net, which most women don't have.

In spite of his serve and wingspan, The Doctor has not managed one Slam or Masters in his career, so it shows how difficult it is.
 
#24
Serve and volley requires CONFIDENCE in your serve, not just the ability to somehow get a serve in, which is what happens in the WTA.

You also need to be tall to take big steps forward and have a wide wing span at the net, which most women don't have.

In spite of his serve and wingspan, The Doctor has not managed one Slam or Masters in his career, so it shows how difficult it is.

I'd say that Ivo is kind of a special case serve and volley player, of a type that doesn't exist on the women's side. I don't think you need to be a freak of nature athlete to make it work. Mischa Zverev for example has demonstrated that it's still viable, and he's kind of average ability at the tour level.
 

sureshs

Bionic Poster
#25
I'd say that Ivo is kind of a special case serve and volley player, of a type that doesn't exist on the women's side. I don't think you need to be a freak of nature athlete to make it work. Mischa Zverev for example has demonstrated that it's still viable, and he's kind of average ability at the tour level.
He is a lefty though
 

IowaGuy

Hall of Fame
#26
In spite of his serve and wingspan, The Doctor has not managed one Slam or Masters in his career, so it shows how difficult it is.
That has more to do with the fact that Karlovic wins less than 10% of his return games.

Not in the same return of service league as S&V greats such as Sampras, Edberg, and Philippoussis who could also win games when they weren't serving...
 

time_fly

Professional
#28
I would guess that it has more to do with the expanded skill set that is needed to serve and volley,
I think this is it. Ladies tend to peak athletically earlier then men and there are a lot of very young ladies in the WTA. They haven’t had the same amount of time to round out their games, and as others have pointed out, banging out big ground strokes is the quickest path to early success.
 
#29
I'd say that Ivo is kind of a special case serve and volley player, of a type that doesn't exist on the women's side. I don't think you need to be a freak of nature athlete to make it work. Mischa Zverev for example has demonstrated that it's still viable, and he's kind of average ability at the tour level.
Yeah. Ivo isn't that good of a volley player but his serve is so good most returns are either not coming back or just being easy sitters. Going to the net is just the easiest way for him to kill shoulder high 50 mph returns because his baseline game is bad.
 
#30
It's all a matter of practice from a young age. Very few S&V exponents in singles even among men. In the past, both men and women were trained from a young age to S&V because that style won a lot of matches. It's not a question of skillset or some inherent issue with women not being able to serve fast or hit overheads. It's not necessary to have blistering pace on serve to play S&V. You can have kick serves too that would work fine. You can see women in doubles and mixed doubles. Their serves, overheads, volleys...are all just fine.
 
#31
It's all a matter of practice from a young age. Very few S&V exponents in singles even among men. In the past, both men and women were trained from a young age to S&V because that style won a lot of matches. It's not a question of skillset or some inherent issue with women not being able to serve fast or hit overheads. It's not necessary to have blistering pace on serve to play S&V. You can have kick serves too that would work fine. You can see women in doubles and mixed doubles. Their serves, overheads, volleys...are all just fine.
This. Just a matter of practice and skill development. The game is meant for S&V.
 

atp2015

Hall of Fame
#32
Women on average are shorter and it's just unfair competition for them to have the same net clearance. It really shows up in serves and it's not as effective. Some are too tall for mobility.
It's mostly because the net clearance is stacked against them for serve and volley game. It's incredible how the world is far from fair to women - including the tennis courts.
 
#33
Women on average are shorter and it's just unfair competition for them to have the same net clearance. It really shows up in serves and it's not as effective. Some are too tall for mobility.
It's mostly because the net clearance is stacked against them for serve and volley game. It's incredible how the world is far from fair to women - including the tennis courts.
But they’re playing other women, so isn’t it balanced?.. I mean, how do 12 year old kids play on the same courts and it seems fair?.. It’s all coaching.

One coach my kids had for a few years was overjoyed to teach them serve and volley, so that’s what was learned. Tried another coach later and when the kid was approaching the net after every serve, the coach was: “hey, hey, don’t go to the net after you serve!” Am. Not. Kidding.
 
#34
Maybe they all watched Djokovic rise to prominence and modelled their games after him.

it's not just in the women's game and it's not just coaching. What can you do when technology favors big groundstrokes? Put 65 sq in rackets in everyone's hands and you'll see S&V return.
Ha!! You may be onto something with the Djokovic model - plenty of evidence to support that theory.

I had a fun talk with a guy from Mexico a few years ago - we were watching a match at the little ATP grass court tourney in Newport, RI and got to tossing around observations and ideas. This gent coached a college team in Mexico City and we got to talking about the styles of play that come with the different surfaces - his home courts were clay. We also got talking about the general issue our OP brought up here and I was making a case for a new generation of WTA players needing to take up a more attacking style.

My pal didn't see that as a very good option for the ladies because he held the view that their movement to the net wasn't as quick as the guys - too easy for baseliners to pass attacking opponents. He wasn't trying to be macho or sexist or anything - he seemed to be basing his opinion on his own experiences with coaching both the guys and the ladies.

I thought that over for a while, but I eventually decided that it doesn't even matter whether or not the guys are generally a little faster. The ladies aren't competing against them aside from the occasional mixed doubles. They're competing against each other. I've seen lots of matches up close through recent years among either strong high school players or college killers at that "next level" and they've been revealing for me. In every circumstance, regardless of gender, the player with the half-decent all-court skills has an advantage over a pure baseliner. The all-courter doesn't always win, but that player can do more to trouble an opponent from more areas of the court.

I have to say that I also wonder sometimes whether the modernization of ground strokes would have happened even if we still used wood frames. I figure that it probably would have happened, just because there have been so many advances in things like the understanding of human mechanics and the development of athletic potential in tennis and so many other sports.
 

atp2015

Hall of Fame
#35
But they’re playing other women, so isn’t it balanced?.. I mean, how do 12 year old kids play on the same courts and it seems fair?.. It’s all coaching.

One coach my kids had for a few years was overjoyed to teach them serve and volley, so that’s what was learned. Tried another coach later and when the kid was approaching the net after every serve, the coach was: “hey, hey, don’t go to the net after you serve!” Am. Not. Kidding.
agree with you, it's balanced. But it hinders serve and volley if they have to use the same net height as taller folks on average. 5 inch height difference is significant when tennis is a game of inches.
 
#36
If you look at the data in the original article, which is from Wimbledon, there's a sharp decline in the serve and volley numbers right around 2007. Why did women stop serving and volleying around that time? A lot of the reasons discussed in this thread relating to technological changes in the game should have produced a change earlier. Was it the Williams sisters? They rose to prominence before this. Was there a few serve and volley players that retired around this time that skewed the data?

I can't think of a reason it dropped off at this time as opposed to some other time? I wonder if this tracks with the decline in serve and volley on the mens side?
 
#37
The other interesting thing to note from the article is that while the number of serve and volley points declined, the percentage of points won has stayed pretty much the same
 
#38
If you look at the data in the original article, which is from Wimbledon, there's a sharp decline in the serve and volley numbers right around 2007. Why did women stop serving and volleying around that time? A lot of the reasons discussed in this thread relating to technological changes in the game should have produced a change earlier. Was it the Williams sisters? They rose to prominence before this. Was there a few serve and volley players that retired around this time that skewed the data?

I can't think of a reason it dropped off at this time as opposed to some other time? I wonder if this tracks with the decline in serve and volley on the mens side?
Mauresmo won Wimbledon 2006 and did a lot of S&V there. Lost early in 2007. According to this wikipedia entry Henin (not known for her volleys) skewed the stats for 2006.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amélie_Mauresmo#2006:_Two_Grand_Slam_titles,_back_to_No._1

"Mauresmo was the top seed at Wimbledon. She defeated Anastasia Myskina in a quarterfinal and Maria Sharapova in a semifinal, and then came back from one set down to defeat Henin in the final 2-6, 6-3, 6-4. The victory was Mauresmo's second Grand Slam singles title and the first on grass. She was also the first Frenchwoman since Suzanne Lenglen to win Wimbledon.The two finalists played an amazing serve and volley style of play in the final coming to the net many times.The Wimbledon final was notable because it was the first and the only time in the decade neither Williams sister's qualified for the Final. "
 
#39
If you look at the data in the original article, which is from Wimbledon, there's a sharp decline in the serve and volley numbers right around 2007. Why did women stop serving and volleying around that time? A lot of the reasons discussed in this thread relating to technological changes in the game should have produced a change earlier. Was it the Williams sisters? They rose to prominence before this. Was there a few serve and volley players that retired around this time that skewed the data?

I can't think of a reason it dropped off at this time as opposed to some other time? I wonder if this tracks with the decline in serve and volley on the mens side?

First of all, as it says, only Wimbledon is tracking. Apart from some of the older generation retiring, Wimbledon courts have got much slower.

Then it says that it's understandable for men, but not for women. As justification it says that women win 76% of the points where they go to the net as opposed to 48% at the baseline. However, they then admit that the 76% success is based on less than 1% of all total points played. Less than 1% !! Maybe if the split for S&V vs baseline shots was close to 50/50 in terms of attempts, the percentages of success would favor baseline shots much, much more. Let's be honest...if there was a surefire magic formula for success some coach/player combo would have exploited it by now.

Overall, S&V itself is no longer in vogue in both men's and women's tennis. The reasons are the same. More slower surfaces, balls sitting up more, more players who learn topspin from a young age than shots that keep the ball down. Can't blame them because they see what is the best way to gain success and move up in the rankings. If they want S&V to come back again, change the courts and change the racket technology.
 

atp2015

Hall of Fame
#41
If they want S&V to come back again, change the courts and change the racket technology.
The real reason for SnV to disappear is the development of physical fitness and ground shots. volley is no match for topspin shots from both wings. players are in much better physical shape to employ power baseline game.
If SnV is a winning strategy everyone would jump on it - it's a competitive world.
 
#42
The real reason for SnV to disappear is the development of physical fitness and ground shots. volley is no match for topspin shots from both wings. players are in much better physical shape to employ power baseline game.
If SnV is a winning strategy everyone would jump on it - it's a competitive world.
You're going in another direction, which is not what the so called study is saying.

The study, and I've pointed out some of the shortcomings in how they've reached their conclusions, is comparing similarly fit athletes and asking why don't they come to the net more when they win 28% more of the points. I'm pointing out part of the reason why that study is not accurate.

Now as to why S&V is not successful, I'm not sure fitness is a big reason. The question again is why are similar fit players not employing that strategy. They are not comparing a rec level player against a fit pro. IMO, volleys would not be returned easily if the surfaces were faster. Ground strokes would not be better if the racquet technology was similar to the 70s. So unless Tennis changes some of those things, there is no real incentive to play a S&V style, because it would end up in more losses than wins.
 
#44
I think it's mainly about comfort zone: the BL is where they feel most comfortable and thus don't see the imperative to take on the risk of getting passed.

Also, maybe they feel that their net game is not as good as their opponent's ground game so why put yourself at a disadvantage?
 

TagUrIt

Professional
#46
It’s not a common practice, but I’ve seen it utilized in WTA matches. Some of those ladies have laser accurate serves and come in for the volley. To say they don’t have the service speed of the men is a ridiculous statement. We all know that physically men are stronger, but that doesn’t negate the 100-115+ mph serves I’ve seen some of the ladies produce.
 
#47
It’s not a common practice, but I’ve seen it utilized in WTA matches. Some of those ladies have laser accurate serves and come in for the volley. To say they don’t have the service speed of the men is a ridiculous statement. We all know that physically men are stronger, but that doesn’t negate the 100-115+ mph serves I’ve seen some of the ladies produce.
Maybe it's a risk/reward thing: if Serena knows she's going to win 72% of points when serving, why bother introducing extra risk of getting passed?

The question then becomes, why doesn't Serena's opponent S&V if she knows she's going to lose 55% of the points if she stays back?
 
#48
Don’t know about the pros, but at the amateur levels from about 4.0 to 5.0, men of a certain age always talk about how much easier it is on their bodies to play S&V, and how they can win points more easily, and that they should do it more often. So then I ask, why don’t you?.. And they usually say, I don’t know. And kind of shrug.
I have two theories.
One is that after Agassi and Nadal, most folks figured that a winning strategy is baseline play, so they got used to it — starting from a young age. For the pros, a lot of junior tournament play reinforces that, when getting lobbed is common, feels crappy, and the crappy feelings from being lobbed or passed outweigh disproportionately the good feelings from putting away volleys or overheads. Some studies suggest a strong bias to loss aversion, by as much as 6:1, so the number of positive experiences from S&V would have to outweigh the negative ones by a large margin... more than, say, 70% of points won. But 70% of points won would almost certainly translate into a won match! So, what kid has the patience to get lobbed several points in a row and go several games or a whole set to see that outcome? Besides, getting good at volleying may we’ll take longer than getting good at groundstrokes... So you end up with nobody practicing it, nobody getting good at it, and nobody winning with it. It’s a spiral.
Another theory is a bit more transcendental... Let’s just leave it at that.
 
#49
Say hello to the elephant in the living room!!

A huge component of this discussion has to do with an indictment of the current coaching culture. Some folks (including former WTA and ATP pros) make a strong case claiming that too many big-shot coaches have abandoned the long-term goal of developing players with complete skill sets. Instead they go for the shortcut to success by training their kids to hit big strokes and serves that turn them into local winners in a big hurry. These coaches churn out "winners" and more folks in the area sign up their kids. Lather - rinse - repeat.

But that training approach leaves the attacking portion of the game, including S&V play, as an afterthought. When kids don't learn that stuff early on, it's tough to reinvent themselves later on and many just stick with what they know.
The problem is, as hard as it is for top adult pros to win at the net* these days, it's even harder for kids. They are shorter and have less reach, putting them at a big disadvantage. Without good volleys and overheads, it's very easy for the baseliner to win the point against the net rusher. All of a sudden, your kid is losing to worse players that he surely would have beaten from the baseline.

If you are a coach, good luck explaining to the kids' parents how this is a good idea that will pay off in the long term.

*Before someone brings up the success rate at net for modern players, one has to see the circumstances in which they approach the net. Usually it's when the point is already won and all that's required is an easy putaway volley. Very few players approach the net with any kind of risk
 
#50
The problem is, as hard as it is for top adult pros to win at the net* these days, it's even harder for kids. They are shorter and have less reach, putting them at a big disadvantage. Without good volleys and overheads, it's very easy for the baseliner to win the point against the net rusher. All of a sudden, your kid is losing to worse players that he surely would have beaten from the baseline.

If you are a coach, good luck explaining to the kids' parents how this is a good idea that will pay off in the long term.

*Before someone brings up the success rate at net for modern players, one has to see the circumstances in which they approach the net. Usually it's when the point is already won and all that's required is an easy putaway volley. Very few players approach the net with any kind of risk
Long term or short term, it's easier for me to make sense of teaching the whole game - including attacking the net - so that a kid is more capable from more areas of the court. Put two kids with about the same baseline strength and consistency in a match against each other and the one who can also attack with some competence will definitely have an edge over the other one who doesn't.

I just don't think I see the situation for the kids in the same light as you do. Sure, a decent baseliner will beat an opponent without good volleys and overheads, but that player has no business going to the net if he/she can't function up there. I just don't assume that all kids can't function at the net. I've seen several who do just fine. They were taught early on. Kids don't know what they need to learn to be decent players, but many coaches do and too often I think those coaches neglect the skills for attacking the net. That's just my take.
 
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