Tag Archives: tennis coach

SMT Daily Tip #7: Benefits of the Swinging Volley

(Note that these are not my videos, but videos that I found)

The swinging volley is a very aggressive shot where you are hitting the ball out of the air with a normal groundstroke. Players commonly use this shot to capitalize on high-floating returns. The benefits that you can reap from using the swinging volley is cutting time away from your opponent. Being able to hit this shot will ,without a doubt, give you an offensive advantage over your opponent.

However, why can’t you just put the high-floating ball away with a volley? Of course you can, and that is up to you. If you think that hitting a volley will surely put the ball away and is a safer route, then go for it. Though, the potent upside of the swinging volley compared to the regular punch volley is that it is much easier to put the ball away due to the high pace you would be imparting on the ball since you are practically hitting a groundstroke.

Also, being able to hit a swinging volley is an indicator of good technique; it demonstrates that you are able to drive through the ball well. In fact, practicing swinging volleys is commonly used for developing groundstroke technique and power.

The swinging volley is definitely a specialty shot that should be a part of your arsenal. Being able to hit the shot will give you more confidence in your offensive game and you will find yourself being able to absolutely dominate the high balls that pushers often hit to you. Although the swinging volley is a great tool and is flashy, it should be used wisely. If you can certainly put the ball away with a volley then do that instead. If you are confident enough that you can hit the swinging volley, then by all means do it, for it is a message to your opponent that floating balls back is not the answer to winning against you.

Employ the swinging volley today and notice a notable improvement in your offensive game. Hope you found this information helpful and feel free to ask any questions regarding your game!

Advertisements

The Importance of Having a Transition and Net Game [Tennis Tactics and Efficiency]

Kei Nishikori

Many people tend to overlook volleys, deeming them not as important as groundstrokes. While that may be true, without a transitional net game, becoming successful on the tour or even in college is very difficult. Take UCLA’s Gage Brymer for example. Ranked one nationally and being a three time Ojai CIF champion, he was a phenom in the juniors. Many people expected him to play somewhere at the top of the line-up (Single’s 1 to 3) for UCLA because of his tremendous results in the juniors. However, he ended playing the number 4 or 5 spot. Why was this the case? If you watch Brymer’s matches when he was a junior and especially in college, notice how he rarely ever transitions to the net. His match with Mkrtchian (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qb6mFdhkHic) is a prime example of his reluctance to approach. In many instances throughout the match, he would hit a damaging shot that would force a weak return capable of being easily volleyed away, but what does he do? He remains at the baseline, and you can even tell that he gives it a thought before he makes the decision. Mkrtchian ends up winning this match. While part of the reason may be because Brymer’s baseline game was not at its usual level that day, Mkrtchian was the one who utilized his transitional net game to great effect. His groundstrokes are not as good as Brymer’s, but what places Mkrtchian at #2 or #3 singles is his ability to attack the net and seize good opportunities, efficiently ending points.

 

On the pro tour, it is inevitable that to be successful, players must have a transition game. Having that kind of efficiency not only expends less energy, but it also makes you more unpredictable. Without a doubt, the top four (Djokovic, Nadal, Federer, and Murray) are the most efficient players on tour. If they know one of their shots will yield a weak shot, they know immediately to begin transitioning up the court to take full advantage. A notable player who has improved this aspect of his game is Kei Nishikori. He has made a tremendous stride on the rankings, beginning at #20 in 2014 and ending the year in the top 5.

 

In his match against Tomic at Brisbane 2015, Kei Nishikori demonstrates clearly his improved efficiency by attacking the net and seizing the moment whenever the opportunity arises. Check out these timed videos to see how he transitions effectively.

 

https://youtu.be/fSVgdMjmVGQ?t=144 (Kei Nishikori yields a weak return with his serve, takes full advantage of it by hitting a forehand approach, and puts away the next ball with an easy volley)

https://youtu.be/fSVgdMjmVGQ?t=224 (Nishikori serves to Tomic’s backhand, sees that Tomic floats the ball back, Nishikori quickly sees the opportunity and comes in puts away the ball with a volley)

https://youtu.be/fSVgdMjmVGQ?t=334 (Nishikori throws down a big serve, Tomic as a result is stretched and can only put his racket out to float the ball back, Nishikori is quick to act on this and sets up a swinging volley followed with a volley winner)

https://youtu.be/fSVgdMjmVGQ?t=436 (Serve stretches Tomic outside. Nishikori knows that if Tomic were to get the serve back, his next shot will be even more damaging. Tomic does get the serve back so Nishikori is ready with a  backhand approach. He knows that the backhand approach will force a very weak return and so he will proceed to the net to end the point with a volley, and in this case it is an elegant drop volley.)

 

Nishikori, despite not having the biggest serve on tour, still has a very efficient serving game. He knows what does damage and is very well aware of how to best capitalize on weak shots. This is what all pros essentially know how to do and is what separates the level of tennis from college/juniors. Albeit having a great baseline game is heavily advocated, many tennis players tend to overlook how important having a transition game actually is, let alone possessing decent volleys.

Breakdown of Marcos Baghdatis Forehand (Modern Technique)

NOVAK DJOKOVIC’S VERSATILE FOREHAND

 

Being able to control topspin and trajectory on the forehand is crucial in today’s game. A great forehand is a versatile forehand!

The amount of spin on the ball is determined by the amount of upward motion you apply with your racket to the ball.

 

 

Which player will impart more spin? The player with the buttcap pointing diagonally upwards to the ball. The straighter the buttcap is to the ball, the flatter the shot will be.

Though, people argue that it is a hassle to constantly think how diagonally they have to point the buttcap so here’s an easier alternative: the type of follow through.

Djokovic is a prime example. He uses three follow-throughs on his forehands: by the shoulder, over the shoulder, and the reverse follow-through. He is probably the player on tour who employs three different follow-throughs on his forehand during a match the most.

By the shoulder

Djokovic’s by the shoulder follow through is normally used for more aggressive flat trajectory shots. He will often use this forehand on sitters, high balls, and balls he deems worth punishing.

Over the shoulder

Djokovic’s over the shoulder follow-through is typically used for a safer and more-spin net clearance shot. He tends to use this follow-through a lot when grinding out points. You will often see him go cross-court with this forehand. He can also create good angles with this shot.

 

Reverse

Djokovic’s reverse follow-through is often used when he is late with the ball and/or when he is going for a lot of spin. This shot is very effective in creating sharp angles/heavy bouncing balls and is a very safe shot. However, this should not be your standard forehand rally ball because this shot is not as penetrating and will tend to give short balls to your opponent.

Each of these follow-throughs produces different effects on the ball. The ability to use all three will give you a variety of options with your forehand, allowing you to better construct points. Djokovic has improved a lot in this aspect of the forehand which is one of the things that has greatly attributed to his success in recent years.

Check out Djokovic’s matches:

Keys to the Inside Out/In Forehand

These are the three 3 big things you must be able to master to have an amazing inside-out/in forehand:

  1. Footwork – The ability to quickly run around your backhand to hit your forehand; this is known as the inside forehand. Where you choose to aim it determines whether it is an inside-out (directing the ball diagonally/down the line) or an inside-in (aiming the ball cross court/closer corner). Many people just side-shuffle around their backhand if the ball is at a comfortable distance, but if you the ball is out of that range, your first step should be a backwards cross-step and then side shuffle. The cross step covers more initial ground.
  2. The coiling of your shoulders and hips – It is crucial that for the inside-out forehand that you turn your shoulders completely to where your it is right below your chin. This allows you to load up efficient power into your shot.
  3. How you uncoil – This is very important; if you do not know how to uncoil correctly on your forehand yet, please check out my article or quick video on the modern forehand technique (https://simplemoderntennis.wordpress.com/the-modern-forehand/) (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qe3AEBgPJ0g) .

When hitting an inside-out forehand once you are uncoiled and ready to hit the shot, you must uncoil and transfer your energy to the direction you want the ball to go – in this case, inside-out.

Same goes for inside-in forehands – you must uncoil and transfer your energy to that direction you want the ball to go to.

The reason why you transfer your weight to your desired direction is because your racket will follow your body’s movement. Uncoiling puts you into the butt-cap position where the butt-cap of the racket is pointing at the ball.  That means focusing that energy towards your target will make your butt-cap point towards that direction as well.

Check out a video of Federer displaying these three keys: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TongA3DfjgM

Marc’s Forehand Technique Day 5

Hey guys! This is Marc’s final session of the 8 hour package. He came to me with a very old school forehand – his grip was continental! But ever since we have worked together to transform his forehand into the modern forehand. Today we focused on weight transfer of the legs and really made our last effort on trying to work on his contact to be more closed. In addition, we tried to emphasize the footwork and hit inside-out forehands.

It’s been a great 8-hour package with Marc!

Marc’s Forehand Technique Day 4

Hey guys, this is the fourth lesson on Marc’s forehand. Today we really focused on his contact point issue. He often times would open up his racket face at contact which causes the ball to go long. So today we both tried to close his racket face more at contact.