Serious Drill - THE THREE STAGES OF LEARNING TO APPROACH
THE NET. - STAGE ONE..
Lay down lines as shown, those near to the
net must only be about 6” (15mm) in front of the service line and the back lines 2 feet (61mm) behind.
Explain to the players rhat this is the transition zone, and they need to be
able to play shots in this area. Point out that as they are approaching the net, the ball may be low at their feet and they
could have to hit a low penetrating volley, a half volley or a slice off the ground.
The player in the zone is not allowed to step outside the zone and must be
as close to the front line as possible. They should not back up unless the ball is so close to their feet, they have no alternative.
The feader must endeavour to feed a low – topspin shot right upto their
feet and the player in the zone must practice getting the ball back low.
Change positions occasionally, when satisfied with the progress, move to the
The practice takes
place in half the court, so that two pairs are able to work separately.
Serious Drill - LEARNING HOW TO APPROACH THE NET –
A & B start close to the baseline
and feed a ball to their hitting partners C & D. They follow the ball to the net. C & D do a return to dip at the
feet of the approaching A & B.
A & B should do their split
step as the see their opposite number go to hit the ball, any later than that and they are too late. A & B do their approach shot and the drill is finished.
The above drill is repeated, but
now, after hitting their approach shot, they continue on into the net, do a split step and a volley – drill ends. They
can then go on to playing the point out after the first volley.
Note: I always ensure
C & D have an extra ball in their hand so that if the ball does not get to them, they can feed it in and the drill continues.
FUN GAME OF THE MONTH.
Fun Game - MILKSHAKE
Players line up in the volley position with their rackets in the ready position
They each give themselves the name of a milkshake – i.e. Chocolate - Raspberry - Peach etc.
The coach hits a ball to a player and calls out say “Raspberry” if that player is “Raspberry” they must volley the ball, if they are not,
they must let the ball go.
If they do this
wrongly then they must sit down. Last one standing wins.
Part Six of this monthly feature.
AT MORE ADVANCED DOUBLES PLAY.
Before looking at specific
areas of play, I want to raise the need to:
There are several forces
involved when you hit a ball. The power generated by the step you take just before
hitting the ball is called linear momentum. Stepping in at a 45o angle rather than a 90o angle puts the power of linear
momentum behind your shot.
If you step sideways
when you are attempting to hit forward, this energy is diverted from your shot. Bio mechanically, your body is working against
itself, resulting in a weak shot.
If you step in the direction
you are hitting the ball, you are taking full advantage of the force created by linear momentum. In the case of a wide shot,
a 45o step enables you to utilize this force to the greatest extent possible.
A second force, which
will enable you to strike the ball harder, is ‘Elastic Energy’, however, incorrectly used it will also reduce
your hitting power.
When taking the racket
back in preparation to hit the ball, you should use a small loop and as this is being done, the body should turn from the
waist in the direction of the take-back. Elastic energy is built up between the shoulder and the neck. As you use the kinetic
chain to produce your shot, legs first – waist – torso – shoulders and arm.
You can add another 10%
power. However, there must be no stopping in the complete movement. if the racket stops behind you for 1 second you lose 20%
of your hitting power, and 4 seconds or more 50% of your power. This is why it is so important to have a clean pure hitting
The major point in raising
this issue is, that you can judge the effectiveness of your return to determine how much to attack your opponents.
Isolate the Player.
This is an advanced doubles
tactic and if executed well, will win your team plenty of points.
You and your partner
are at the net and you have contained the opponents on their baseline. When the
opportunity arises and one of your opponents is under pressure, you and your partner should play every ball in the area of
that opponent, obviously making it most difficult for that player and endeavouring to hit the winner.
This ploy effectively
cuts the other opponent out of the point.
This is a tactic that
many players are aware of but which they seldom use. Your partner at the net
takes up a position on the same side as you, when you are serving,
You will serve from near
the middle of the court and then move to the opposite side to your partner. It is important that your partner sets themself
up in the correct position and this would be a place dissecting the angle of return crosscourt. Your partner should also be
roughly 6 – 8 feet back from the net.
The advantages in this
1/. To disrupt your opponents rhythm
2/. If the opponent is left handed and is hitting winners crosscourt.
3/. The opponent has a good backhand shot.
4/. Your partner prefers only to play in the deuce court.
This strategy can be
effective on both the deuce and ad. sides of the court.
The advantage in using
an I formation, is that your opponents do not know which way the net player is going to move. I have seen this strategy work
extremely well, when the net player is very quick and agile, supporting a player who is perhaps the least proficient of all
The I formation can also
be very effective in disrupting the opponent’s game, especially if they are not used to playing against such format.
The first priority is
for the partners to have some form of signalling system, I favour this rather than verbal setting as then you don’t
have to confer for the second serve, having already committed the move on a first failed serve.
Some players do still
confer prior to starting the serve; this is useful to discus where the serve is being placed.
The second important
point is that the serve acknowledges to the net player that they are aware of the decision.
A common signal is for
a clenched fist, which indicates the net player is moving to the normal side, where they would usually start, and with fingers
pointing outward, they would go the other way, (keep in mind that if they are using their left hand for the signal and they
would normally be in the right hand box, whilst the fingers point to the right, they will actually be moving to the left,
the server will be slightly to the left of the centre line.
The position the net
player takes up is on the centre line, about 1 foot (300 mm) from the service line, they would be crouching down in order
not to be hit by the ball, but in a dynamic position so that they can move quickly as they hear the server strike the ball,
about half a second afterwards, they must not commit and give away their direction too soon but must be in a position to cut
off the ball.
The server stands just
to the side of the centre line to serve, and as the net player goes one way, the server goes the opposite.
Try out both of the above
formations; see how they go for you and your partner. I would however say that you do need to practice these with a regular
Playing in no man’s
The area near the service
line is commonly called no man’s land which implies that no one should be there. This is not true. When in the
transition stage of going from the baseline to the net, you will often find yourself in the area, when you have to do a split-spring
in preparation for your next shot, usually an approach shot.
There are a number of
times when this is precisely the area where you should be. As an example, suppose you are at the net, the ball is behind you,
and one or both your opponents approach the net, you must retreat to this area.
Playing in the area around
the service line demands a high level of skill because of the type of shots you must execute from that position; long volleys,
half volleys etc. It is difficult to win a point from that area, so you should try to take only one hit from there are move
to a more advantageous position.
Good doubles players
must know how to play there; therefore arrange some drills that will help you learn to play capably and confidently. Seek
advice from your coach.
see this weeks Drill of the month.
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Until next month,
John Hoskins – Coach.
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