Tuesday, July 29th, 2014 at
Catch the Volley
You have heard it before, “don’t swing at your volley”!-or “punch the volley”-or “just block it” and so on and so on. If you are hoping I am going to tell you something different-sorry- but here are three tips that will help you if you have a tendency to swing too much.
First, catch your volley; I mean it literally, have someone hit or throw you balls at net and you should step and catch the ball with your forehand volley hand. You will get in the habit of just reaching forward. When you catch in practice make sure the hand and fingers are pointed up. In this drill you will notice that to catch a ball you do not bring your hand back behind your head and then reach forward, you simply reach forward-the same with the volley.
Another way to stop a swinging volley is to have someone feed you volleys while your opposite hand is holding on to your wrist of your volleying arm. Holding the wrist with the opposite hand will not allow any backswing motion. If you do this drill often enough you will train the arm not to swing but to simply reach, developing muscle memory.
The third tip- is not really possible- try it anyway. I had a coach who wanted me to see the ball hit the strings of my racquet on the volley through the back of the racquet. While almost impossible to do the point was well taken. I had to reach forward far enough so I could look through the back of the racquet head to try and see the ball hit the front.
There, three easy tips to improve your forehand volley. If you have a two hand backhand volley use the above tips to help with that also. On the two hand volley it’s the opposite hand that reaches for the shot, so you can try all the above just reaching with the opposite hand.
The key to not swinging on the one hand backhand volley is the use of the opposite hand holding the racquet up near the throat and letting go right before the step and hit. The opposite hand keeps the head of the racquet up and helps prevent a backswing.
Remember, all volleys are hit with a firm, locked wrist.
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Good Luck-Have Fun!!
Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014 at
Backhand Volley Cures
One of the more common problems for the rising tennis player is the backhand volley-here are some tips that will help.
If you read this site often enough you know I am a stickler for volleying using the Continental hand grip for both the forehand and backhand volley. ( ”v” formed between the thumb and index finger will be at one o’clock on the grip for right handed players when you use the top center of the grip as twelve o’clock, eleven for lefties) When playing at the net there is not enough time for grip changes, especially as your opponents improve and the shots are coming faster. The one grip system is the solution.
If you hit a one hand backhand volley remember that your opposite hand is the key for correct preparation. To help form the correct angle between the forearm and shaft of the racquet the opposite hand should cradle the throat of the racquet keeping the head of the racquet above the handle. The wrist is in a locked up position. Without the opposite hand on the throat your angle will fall, you may take the racquet back too far and you will not feel stable. The opposite hand comes off the throat right before impact.
The volley is attacked-make sure to step forward on your opposite leg. This forward step will have you hitting the ball early and create the correct shoulder rotation, without the step the odds of making a late hit are high since you will be back on your heels with your shoulders facing the net.
The volley is a slight high to low shot that will put backspin on the ball creating a low bounce for your opponent. To achieve this, the butt of the handle leads the hit and the wrist is always very firm and locked up. The head of the racquet should be line with the handle at impact.
There is nothing wrong with a two hand backhand volley. Many times I recommend it if the player is having a hard time getting the feel of the Continental grip, or the shot is continually too weak. Now, the opposite hand should be on top and touching the dominate hand. The grips for both hands can be Eastern. (“v” in the hands are at twelve o’clock) Just remember that you will also be hitting the forehand volley in the Eastern grip which will cause the face of the racquet to be closed more so the step and slight shoulder turn is mandatory or your volleys will end up in the net.
The opposite, or top hand, will now be reaching forward for the shot, make sure to keep those elbows away from your ribs so the forward extension is possible. There are two scenarios that will force you to let go of the opposite hand-one is when the oncoming shot is too wide and second is when the shot is coming directly at you.
With all traditional volleys the keys are: no backswing, cross over step, firm wrist and reach.
Good Luck-Have Fun!!
Friday, July 18th, 2014 at
Low Spin Technique
The two types of spin most used for control of tennis shots are topspin and backspin. The ball will jump forward with topspin and will stay low with backspin, let’s go over some of the finer points.
To put backspin on the ball you have to hit either a slice forehand or backhand. If you read my blogs enough you will know that I’m a huge fan of the Continental grip. This grip is needed to hit a multitude of shots, the serve, overhead, volley, drop shot and both forehand and backhand slice. So, you’re first priority is to get comfortable with the Continental grip.
Normal ground stroke drives are hit low to high creating topspin. Backspin is created by striking the ball with a high to low swing brushing down the back of the ball. The backspin will cause the ball to stay very low, forcing the opponent to hit up to you, which is quite convenient if you up at net. If you are facing a player who hits the forehand in the Western grip, backspin is a great strategy. It will be awkward for the player to snap the forehand when the ball is that low and the grip naturally closes the face of the racquet.
To hit the slice use the Continental grip, have the racquet head about shoulder high on the back swing, maintain a closed stance and shoulder turn through the entire shot, keep a firm wrist with the racquet face slightly open, brush down the back of the ball and completely follow through up and out, not over the shoulder. At the point of contact the knees must be bent, with the back leg a bit more bent than the front, this will allow you to stay upright and balanced.
The slice is great for changing things up during point rallies, hitting approach shots, chasing down wide shots and returning serve against power servers. The return is especially true in doubles when the opponents are serving and coming in. The slice will keep the return low around the service line, making the first volley more difficult.
Good Luck-Have Fun!!
Monday, July 14th, 2014 at
Coil for Power
Power in tennis shots comes from different areas, one of the most important is the coiling down to generate power as we come up.
Our ground strokes require a preparation that allows us to bend our knees when taking the racquet back. Whether discussing the Traditional forehand or backhand, or the more Modern style, knee bends are essential. The Traditional strokes, where our bodies are turned more sideways to the net and our stances are closed, have a knee bend in the rear leg, which will automatically bend the front leg a bit. This bending allows the player to come up, and through, the ball at contact resulting in more power. With the Modern style the body is more open to the net and so too is the stance. Notice in the picture how bent the right knee is while preparing for the forehand, the term “ loading “ is used instead of coiling, but we are talking the same thing here, lowering the body to generate an upward motion creating power.
Serving also requires a coiling action. We want to hit our serves at the apex of our reach. When this is accomplished two things occur, one, the trajectory downward is greater, giving us a better angle to hit the serve in, and two, there is a much larger arc in the swing which will generate more head speed, thus power. Remember L=L, or, if the serve is Long you probably hit it too Low. To be able to reach that apex the knees have to bend as the toss is being lifted. This coiling process allows us to push upward towards the toss and contact the ball at our maximum height. [See picture]
Let’s not forget the overhead either. We need to hit that shot high also, for the exact same reason as the serve. Ever wonder why your overhead is continually flying long? Go back to the L=L theory, they are being struck too low.
With both the serve and overhead remember to keep the head up through the entire stroke; this will insure longer eye contact and an extended reach.
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Good Luck- Have Fun!!