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Volley Better -- Mental Check List

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John Mills, USPTA

Your opponent is about to hit the ball from the far baseline. You are either at the net or on the way to the net. What should you be anticipating?

  • Anticipate that the next shot will be a lob. It is much easer moving forward than backwards. If it is a lob, you will be glad that you were not racing in or that you were too close to the net. Most players will give you some sort of clue that they are about to lob. They will be falling back or they might be dropping the racket head or they might be doing both things.

  • As soon as you can rule out the lob, start moving forward with small "baby" steps.

  • After you start moving forward, then determine whether it will be a forehand or a backhand volley. Once you are moving forward it is easier to accelerate forward. When most players stop, they tend to move sideways. By moving forward you can take away some of your opponent's ability to return the ball low and away from you. The forward motion gives you a better angle at the ball.

If you are playing doubles and you return the ball to the deep player, look for the lob first. If you attack the up player (nearest the net), forget about the lob and just start moving forward. Now you can determine if the next shot is a forehand or backhand.
 
The key is to let your mind have a mental checklist of what to do. Remember, rule out the lob first before moving in to cut off the volley.
 
Good luck on the Court!
 

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This column is copyrighted by John Mills, all rights reserved.

John Mills currently teaches tennis at the University of Houston, Clear Lake campus. John Mills' experience includes four years as head pro at the Windemere Racquet & Swim Club, where he was responsible for organization of all tennis activities at the club. John also played college tennis at the University of Houston and has spent 20 years teaching tennis at the Memorial Park Tennis Center, the Pasadena Racquet Club, and as the head pro at the Bay Area Racquet Club.


 

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