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Player to Player: Volleying During Doubles Matches

July 27, 2012 12:23 PM
Have a question? Receive advice from your fellow tennis players!
Real Tennis Players - Like You! - Asking For and Offering Advice on the Sport They Love  
 
Player to Player is USTA.com’s regular feature in which everyday tennis players are given a forum to ask advice on the sport they love – and their fellow players will dish out advice. We’ll post a number of the best responses we receive to our question of the week.
 
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Player to Player:
This week's question from Justin:
 
I have been trying to generate more topspin on my shots instead of hitting flat balls all the time. Can someone recommend what kind of string to use on my racquet to help?
 
Please share your thoughts by e-mailing Player@usta.com, and include your name and hometown.
 
Got a question of your own? Send that along, too!
 
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READ OTHER PLAYERS' ADVICE
Last week's question from Nguyen:
(Please note: There is no need to send additional responses to this question.)
 
I've been having some trouble at the net. For singles, I can volley pretty well, but when it comes to doubles, I fall short. Literally. I miss a lot of volleys because the balls are either at my chest or directly in my face. I try to step into the rare volley I avoid, but they're also really fast compared to most singles points. How can I avoid being forced into a weak shot because they've hit a shot at my body, and how do I react smoothly when I get out of that situation so I can hit an aggressive shot?
 
 
Player Responses:
 
From Eric, Northern California:
 
Increasing the quickness of your hands depends on both the "Reflex Volley Drills" that all top doubles players grow up doing and on mentally overcoming your fear response to a ball coming right at you.
 
Your statement that you are missing the volleys that are "at your chest or head" highlights this need.
 
Quickness with your hands at net all starts, however, with your feet.
 
You need a ready position that is different from your habits at the baseline. There you can afford the time to turn your body with a back step. Net play with a fast hitting opponent does not afford you that luxury.
 
Prime the forward step by leaning as you bounce forward prior to the hit. Keep your hands and racquet up like a boxer fighting against a head hunting opponent. "Put up your Dukes" for your protection in parrying those head shots.
 
The arms and hands are never stiff in extension as tension short circuits your speed and skill. The face of the racquet moves forward to meet the ball with only a highly abbreviated back swing.
 
A Continental grip is what top volley net players use. It tilts the face of their racquet to the backhand side of the face. That ready position allows you to easily block away balls at your head or chest.
A forehand turn causes the crowded, scary feeling that you mentioned on balls hit hard right at you.
 
There is not always time to actually step into each volley. That comes with playing the net in doubles. You need to get used to this concept of "Get it, before it gets you." All humans have a "fight or flight" reaction that must be trained.
 
As an every day drill use a large number of practice balls and volley fast back at your partner and keep it going, bouncing back to ready position until you are exhausted by the fast repetitions coming right at you.
 
That backhand protection shot will soon become second nature. You will soon overcome the fear!
 
From Andrew:
 
This is all about reaction time and anticipation. Make sure that when balls are hit to your partner, your eyes are focused on the opposite side of the court. Your reaction time must be at its quickest, and when you are turning your head to watch your partner hit the ball it slows reaction time down considerably. If you're at net, keep an eye on the opposing player at the net and react accordingly.
 
Assume EVERY ball is going to be hit to you. You are comfortable volleying in singles because you know you have to get the ball. Have the same mentality.
 
From Kenny:
 
When you are serving or returning don't get stuck in between the service line and bas line, sometimes called no man's land. Watch the ball and stay in ready position. Try and not swing at your vollies, cover your alley and watch for the lob.
 
 
Click here for USTA.com's Player to Player Archive.
 

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