October, 2014 |

Archive for October, 2014

The Lob Volley

The Lob Volley

Here’s a shot that is not discussed very much, the lob volley. Let’s go over a couple of tips that will help you.

First of all it is not an easy shot, which explains why you don’t hear a lot about it, the shot is hard to practice and is a shot hit completely through feel, so you have to have been playing a while to be able to hit. Having said all that, start to work on it, when the time is right it is usually an outright winner.

The lob volley is 90% a doubles play and normally when your in a defensive position around the service line. In classic doubles when both opposing partners are trying to get to net being offensive is when the shot becomes available. The lob volley is an offensive shot hit from a defensive position that you will gently lift over the opponent’s heads with a bit of backspin on the ball. Phew!

How to hit the shot:

One- use the continemtal grip, which you should be in when you have moved in from the baseline.

tennis continental grip

Two-some degree of knowledge is needed knowing how to hit the slice backhand and forehand because the lob volley is basically a shortened backspin shot. When you attempt the shot use you volley knowledge of no backswing, the head is slightly above the handle so you can brush down the back of the ball just a bit, like cupping it and then a slight upward lift to finish the shot.

When both opponents are close to the net is when they are vunerable to the lob volley. The backspin will make that lob high enough to get over their heads but low enough th keep the ball in when you hit from the service line.

tennis pictures 2 076

To practice the shot either find a partner to feed you balls you can volley from the service line area, or if you access to a ball machine that would be better. You’ll need to hit a lot of balls to generate that feel, but it’s worth it.

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Tennis “Butts” are Big

Tennis “Butts” are Big

When discussing the proper way to hit strokes many things are covered, however never where the correct alignment of the butt of the racquet should be. In many cases if the butt is correct the rest may follow suit. So, let’s begin with the backside- the butt.

When hitting the traditional, closed stance forehand in either the eastern or continental grip, the butt should be facing your back hip.

The butt for the open stance, western grip forehand will be facing out at approximately a forty-five angle.

For both the one hand backhand topspin and slice the butt is not facing towards you but rather out, and again, about a forty-five angle.

The two hand backhand held in the conventional eastern grips will be facing toward the net going straight past your stomach.

When you have reached the coiling position on your serve the butt is behind your head and facing sideways.

The butt for the volley will be forward and slightly in front of the head of the racquet.

In all of the above examples, with the only exception being the traditional forehand, the butt will lead the stroke; not having the butt in the correct position at the start will lead to an errant shot.

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Tip Reminders

Tip Reminders

Here are some quick tips about the opposites that occur in tennis.

The first opposite is the shorter the ground stroke swing the longer the shot will go, generally out. When the swing is cut short there is very little topspin on the ball and the racquet face is still open causing a long floating shot. There are three main parts to any ground stroke, backswing, contact and follow through-in order of importance the follow through comes first. When the swing continues through and up after contact the ball stays on the face of the racquet longer creating topspin on the ball, which is the controlling factor on your shots. So, finish your swing over the shoulder.

Second opposite, if you stand up too soon on ground strokes the shot will go down into the net. You want the ball to contact the face of your racquet from the center, or sweet spot, to just above on the top half. This allows for the ball to cover more strings generating topspin, by standing up too soon you also pull up the head of the racquet so that your contact is made on the bottom half of the face resulting in net shots. So, maintain a slight knee bend until contact and then come up.

Another opposite occurs on serves and overheads, if the shots are too long you have hit the ball too low. On shots above the head the lower contact is made the farther the ball will travel. The racquet face will come over the ball when the arm is at full extension, if the arm is not extended the face of the racquet remains open at contact thus sending the shot out.

Two hand back hand opposite is the power comes from the opposite hand. If you are right handed and have a two hand back hand the left hand does most of the hitting, snapping up and finishing over the shoulder just like your forehand should be doing. Think of the shot as a left hand forehand.

All shots that are hit low to high should have a loose wrist so you can snap, or roll, the wrist up the backside of the ball for power and topspin. The opposite here is that all high to low shots ( slices and volleys ) are struck with an extremely firm wrist.

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My son, Ian, is the tennis director and head pro at the Scarsdale Golf Club in Hartsdale, NY. We had the opportunity to see his son Zachary, participate in a junior tennis clinic. As I was watching, I was reminded how important early preparation is for our strokes. Zach is only eleven; notice how his racquet is back and so well prepared.

Players that use a straight back preparation, on both, the forehand and backhand, should begin their motions right after the ball has been struck by the opponent. The golden rule is that by the time the oncoming shot bounces on your side of the court the racquet should be already back and poised. This will allow for a smooth swing without excess of motion.

Players using the loop backswing want to maintain a consistency that does not allow for a quick loop right before contact. In other words, begin your loop early enough that the racquet head is behind you and shoulder high when the ball is bouncing on your side of the court.

Tennis is a sport where the term “less is more” is truly appropriate. We want to cut down excess moving parts. It stands to reason that the more actions going on at the same time, the greater chance for error. Early racquet preparation leads to less errors; you will not be in a rush when making your swing.

Take this tip and apply to other strokes. Prepare early on overheads and expect every ball to be coming to you when playing doubles at the net. [Early mental preparation] When returning serve, keep the backswings more compact so you are not rushed against big servers.

Prepare early and you’ll see how much time you really have.

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Split Step

Split Step

Ever wonder why you can’t catch up to your opponent’s hard serve, or when coming to the net you have a hard time with the volley even though it’s only a few feet away? The answer is that you are probably not incorporating the split step before your shot. Both of these situations call for a controlled redirection of the opponent’s oncoming power.

Ground stroking from the baseline is more of a movement situation. Players are constantly moving to shots and recovering back to the center of the court in between shots, so the feet are in constant movement. When waiting for the opponent’s next shot the feet should be slightly hopping back and forth so you can react quickly to the next shot, if standing flat footed the reaction is slower, the difference between making or missing the shot.

The return of serve and the volley are different; you want to think compact and forward.

tennis volley

If you are facing someone who has a consistently hard serve, try backing up one foot from where you really want to be when returning the serve. When your opponent is reaching up for the serve, right before contact, try a forward split step. You will end up at the place you want to be and your weight will be forward allowing you to pick up the serve sooner. Moving forward will also compact the backswing. Hitting late on hard serves is generally caused by being back on your heels which can easily lead to a full backswing that is not needed. Remember, you want to turn the power coming at you around in your return, think forward and compact.

The volley is the same idea. When approaching the net, at the start of your opponent’s forward swing, not the backswing, split step. You will be stabile, forward and ready to cross over to hit a shot that is wide. If there is no split step the body weight is still moving forward so you cannot turn and hit any shot that is not coming directly at you. You already know that the volley is a reaching forward stroke, no backswing, the split step will stop any running through the shot and result in less motion, giving you more control to redirect the oncoming shot to where the opponent is not.

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