Featuring Roger Federer in ProStrokes 2.0
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Quick Tips for the Four Toughest Shots in Tennis
There are four shots in the game that strike fear into the hearts of the recreational tennis player. Though they’re awkward to execute, with a few tips and a “just get it back” approach you’ll be able to handle them and often surprise your opponents by returning a shot they thought they’d hit for a winner.
A half-volley, or pick-up, is that annoying shot you have to play when a ball bounces right at your feet. You can’t move forward fast enough to hit it out of the air, and it bounces too close to you to hit a proper groundstroke. It’s literally half a volley and half a groundstroke.
Justine Henin gets down low to the ball then, with no backswing and an extremely short stroke, she executes this half-volley to perfection.
Usually we get caught having to play a half-volley when we approach the net and our opponent drops the ball at our feet. Sometimes, however, we have to hit a half-volley when we’re standing inside our own baseline and our opponent hits a deep groundstroke right at us.
Your goal when hitting the half-volley is to just get the ball back in play. Use an extremely short backswing or no backswing at all, keep a firm wrist, and bend at the knees and lower yourself to the level of the ball. Your racquet should be out in front of you.
As soon as the ball hits the ground, keep your racquet face square or just slightly open. The feeling is that of gently lifting the ball over the net. Your stroke should be more of a push than a swing. Stay low and use a slight, and I repeat slight, upward motion.
A good exercise to practice the half-volley is to say the words “boom boom” to yourself as fast as you can when hitting the shot. This will give you a feel for the rhythm involved and will improve your timing.
Don’t try to hit a winner off a half-volley, just get it back and then move into the net for you next shot or back behind the baseline so you won’t have to hit another one.
The Backhand Overhead
For most of us the backhand overhead can be the toughest shot in the game.
Former World # 1, Kim Clijsters, makes this shot look easy but for most of us, the backhand overhead can be the toughest shot in the game. It’s another of those "just get it back" shots so don’t try to do anything fancy or aggressive with it. Just put the ball back in play and go from there.
When your opponent lofts a short lob over your backhand shoulder, if you react quickly enough, many times you can run around it and hit your regular overhead. However, if you must play the ball on your backhand side, I suggest turning the shot into a volley.
Immediately turn your body, use a short backswing and just strive to make solid contact. Punch it back deep and get into position for your next shot.
With the ball right at him, Pat Rafter takes a quick step to the right and makes the backhand volley look easy.
Right At You
How often have you been at the net and your opponent blasts the ball right at you? This happens quite frequently, particularly in doubles, and is in fact an excellent strategy that often handcuffs the net player.
So, how do you avoid that “deer in the headlights syndrome” when you’re an easy target for your opponent's body shot? Ideally, when a ball is coming right at your body, try to move to one side and play either a comfortable forehand or backhand volley.
Often, however, you don’t have the time to move. In that case, keep your wrist firm and play a backhand volley. That’s really the only way you can physically get the racquet in front of your body without severely (and dangerously) contorting your arm. Keep your wrist firm and just let the ball hit the strings.
The Backfire or Over the Shoulder Shot
A topspin lob goes over your head and you know right away you’re in trouble. You can’t take the ball in the air, and getting behind it to hit a controlled stroke is just not in the cards. You’re going to have to hit the shot in front of your body with your back to the net. Now what?
You can hit any kind of shot with a backfire but for most of us the goal is just to get the ball back with a high lob and stay in the point.
llie Nastase, one of the most talented players ever to grip a racquet, made famous a shot he called the Bucharest Backfire for just this situation. Line yourself up so that when the ball bounces, it’s over your left shoulder (if you are righthanded; for lefties, it’s the opposite shoulder). Then swing your arm and flick your wrist up into the ball over your left shoulder. A continental grip is the best for this shot as it gives you a bit more flexibility in your wrist.
You can hit any kind of shot with a backfire, from a high defensive lob to a low offensive drive that just clears the net. It all depends on how athletic and aggressive you want to be on the court. For most of us, however, the goal here is just to get the ball back with a high lob and stay in the point.
Though these four shots may never be your biggest weapons but they don’t need to be major weaknesses. By using simple technique and a just get it back approach, you can return these difficult balls and stay alive while you wait for your opportunity to take control of the point.
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The Lob Volley
ATP and WTA coach, Heath Waters, along with touring pro, Lindsey Lee-Waters, demonstrate the effectiveness of the lob volley. Drawing your opponent into the net and then lobbing a volley over his or her head is a basic tactic used at all levels of the game. Heath and Lindsey show you how to set this shot up and when to use it, and they provide reference points so you can apply this shot to your own game.
Spin – Could This Be the New “Name Of The Game?
Often spectacular players of a particular era inspire many of those who follow. Sampras studied Rod Laver and legions of semi-western two-handed backhand baseliners copied Bjorn Borg. Now as Rafael Nadal has ascended the throne, I believe we will see more and more players and teachers experimenting not with topspin, but rather with extreme topspin. Jim McLennan explains how spin is impacting the pro game and how it could help your game as well..
ProStrokes 2.0 - Roger Federer's Forehand
The consummate artist, Roger Federer moves gracefully, swings effortlessly, and employs other worldly shot selection. If you are searching for an underspin backhand, Federer is the perfect model. Modeling the topspin backhand, look to Federer; an effortless rhythmic disguised serve, copy Federer. And if you want more on the forehand without resorting to an extreme grip, again Roger Federer. The guy loves to play and we are the richer for it. Check out his strokes in the all new super slow-mo ProStrokes 2.0. Only on TennisOne.
The Etcheberry Experience DVD
For more than twenty years Pat Etcheberry has been providing athletes from around the world with the winning edge. We call this the Etcheberry Experience, and players with an Etcheberry experience have hoisted Championship Trophies at over one hundred major championships, including 28 Australian Opens, 18 Wimbledons, 22 UP Opens, 22 French Opens and 15 Olympic medals.
And now it's your turn! This is your chance to experience the same drills, exercises and words of tennis wisdom that Pat gave to Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, Jennifer Capriati, Martina Hingis, Jim Courier, Justine Henin-Hardenne, and others, that helped launch them on their incredible careers. For the first time, Pat Etcheberry shares his training secrets in a series of DVDs for players of all ages, their coaches, and trainers.
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