Here are some tips to help you recognize what type of shot is coming toward and how to respond.
When warming up for a match with your opponent the first thing to notice, especially on his or her forehand stroke is what grip is being used. If the opponent is in the Continental grip expect shots to have some topspin, not to an exaggerated degree, and maybe some backspin shots because that is the grip a slice forehand causing backspin is used resulting in a low bounce. If the Eastern grip is used expect the same topspin shots as the Continental fairly consistently with little slice shots. When you see the Western grip topspin will be more prevalent with a higher arc crossing the net, deeper landings near the baseline in your court and a higher bounce off the court. The slice shot will probably never happen.
Now, all I just described in the previous paragraph is based on intermediate range players. The more advanced the opponent the more you will see him or her changing grips to hit the type of shot dictated by the type of shot that is coming in the point.
Backhands, while having different spins, will not have the exaggerated topspin as a western forehand.
One simple thing to watch on the opponent’s backswing that will give you an advantage in knowing what is probably coming is where it is behind in relation to the height of the ball. To hit topspin the racquet head will be below the ball when beginning the forward swing. If you see the head staying above the ball and coming forward expect a slice or backspin.
I am asked how to counteract the high bouncing topspin shot near the baseline a lot, here are a couple of tips. There are basically four options- One, try to hit the ball on the rise so the bounce does not have enough time to kick up too high. Remember to shorten your backswing, bend your knees and completely follow through. Second, if the ball is bouncing right at the baseline treat it as if it is a half volley and pick it up on the short hop. You will need to bend the knees with no backswing, stay down until the stroke is completed and follow through. Third, if you are confident in your volley move in and don’t let it bounce and take it in the air. Fourth and most popular in the intermediate range is to back up and try to let it come down. If that is the only option to stay in the point-do it, but I recommend you work on the three previous options. When you back up too much court space is being given up on your side of the court giving the opponent opportunities to hit angles you cannot reach or drop shots because you are too far back.
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