Friday, December 23, 2016

Tennis Tutorial: Approach shots and volley drills and strategy

This is a strategy and drill based on percentage play for covering the net. This will work in most situations.

Slide One
Excuse the less than perfect artwork. But I will present
a drill and strategy to increase your tennis effectiveness. The idea of approach
shots is influenced by Bill Tilden's How to Play Better Tennis. You need depth, pace, and direction on every approach shot. The first idea is to hit your approach shot within 6 feet of the baseline. If your court has the blue lines that are the baseline of the orange ball court, then aim past that with your approach shot. The blue lines are 9 feet from the baseline. That is the depth part of depth, pace, and direction.What you can also see in the diagram is that You are making your foe run all the way across the court, and hit his shot on the move. So that is the direction part of the equation. You could also approach at a sharp angle instead of the deep shot as long as your opponent is running across the court. Hitting the angle to the same corner where Foe already is won't get the job done.The pace part is to hit the ball as hard and flat as you can.

Slide two
So your faceless foe has run down your approach shot and oh shit!! He's a lefty. You have hit into his strength. The most universally played passing shot is the down the line shot. This is easier to set up for as you can prepare earlier with your footwork. you can set up for the shot before you get to it. Whereas to hit the cross court shot you have to run past where the ball bounces to have a more open stance. Most players, even pros leave the line wide open when approaching the net. You are not yet in a position to go for the kill volley. You must try to get in before the service line and volley deep back behind your foe where the original approach shot was.This is not so much for making the opponent move or to put them in a difficult spot but so that you can continue towards correct positioning at the net. And to set you up to win the largest percentage of your net approaches.

Slide three
As you can see your faceless foe is now a righty! He must be ambidextrous. This deep volley will certainly not be a winner but they are unlikely to stay home and attack it unless they know your game in which case put the burden of the passing shot on him each time. So they will probably either hit a floater that you can spike  into oblivion. But they are more than likely will try to go up the line again. In which case you will be ready to hit the winning cross court drop volley. However, you must be ready to cover a cross court passing shot. But not the sharply angled cross court shot. You can conceded those points for the greater amount of errors they will make attempting it.  Be ready to cover the down the line shot!! And move forward slightly towards the center.

Slide four
I have hidden you to avoid confusion. You're invisible. Your faceless foe is a lefty again. But he is going down you are ready to finish him off with the winning shot. I recommend hitting a cross court drop shot. As short as possible, but don't net it since you have margin if your previous volley pushed him back.

Slide five
Your faceless foe has given up in despair. He has thrown his racquet in futile disgust. Unless you are playing Nadal the point is over. You can always carve the drop shot better and keep this strategy going because it will certainly be more effective in the final set.

For teaching pros looking to turn this into a drill. Simply stand to the side of the court where you want the approach shots and volleys. Be behind the service line. And feed them an approach shot, volley, and closing volley.

You can do this on the other side. So backhand and forehand sides. You can have them chip and charge (slice) or topspin. Although the pace part of depth pace, and direction would indicate a generally flat shot hit hard.

Keep in mind that this is percentage tennis with the aim to win the majority of your points of net.
If you hit the first volley cross court you are not able to cover the net. they can hit cross court behind you. And they can burn you down the line. Also in a best of five set match your opponent may run these volleys down in the first and second sets but start to burn out in the 3rd, 4th, and 5th sets. If you are still getting burned you are putting pressure on this above average opponent who would normally destroy you. And there is a successful strategy against any player.

But keep in mind you can't hit all these shots without the control that comes from years of practicing under good supervision.For anyone who would want such practice email me at to see if we can arrange something.

Also the ideas of this drill are influenced by Bill Tilden's book How To Play Better Tennis. I highly recommend reading this book it will make anyone a better tennis player. How to Play Better Tennis

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