Here is an excellent drill for singles or doubles to help
you think aggressively at the net. I often use this drill
in my doubles clinic. When you advance to the net, either
from serve and volley or return serve and take the net,
you or your partner are not allowed to let the ball bounce.
If you let it bounce you lose the point! There are only
three exceptions in which it is okay to let the ball
- The ball hits the net and drops over;
- The ball is lobbed over your head;
- Your opponent has an overhead and is about to smash it
Other than these three situations, you cannot let the ball
bounce once you and your partner advance to the net. The
best way to practice this drill is under controlled
conditions with 5 players. One team stays in a one-up,
one-back formation while the other team takes the net
(either by serve-and-volley or return serve). Play the
first to reach 12 points wins, with the serving team
switching servers when one team reaches 6 points. After
that game is over, let the other team become the
aggressive net team for a 12-point game. The fifth player
watches to call any ball that bounces on the net team's
side. You need a fifth person because I know from
experience that most players do not know when they have
hit a ball on a bounce up at the net. The observer on the
sideline can help make the call. You can alternate the
fifth person in after every 12 point game, letting one of
the other players make the calls from the sideline.
How will this help your game?
Try this drill many times in your practices and you will be
surprised how fast your thinking changes and your volleys
improve. You must replace the old habit of letting the ball
come to you with the new habit of your moving to the ball.
- You will begin thinking in terms of going to the ball,
instead of waiting for the ball to come to you. Good
athletes learn to play the ball, instead of letting
the ball play them.
- Since you will be hitting the ball sooner it will
travel back to your opponents sooner, giving them less
reaction time. If you rush them they will not lob as
- You will begin to move closer to the net (about
halfway between the net and service line). If you do
not move closer and you stay too far away from the net
like most players do, you will be vulnerable to the
ball bouncing in front of you and losing the point.
- When you are closer to the net you can hit more dynamic
- You and your partner will be up at the net side by side,
instead of one up close and the other back on the service
line. Side by side you both will gain confidence from
each other. You're a team!