Thursday, September 8, 2011

Playing The Net Drill #1

The key to becoming a master of the net is to relax, be confident, and know what you want to do in different positions on the court. Being relaxed helps you react quicker. Being confident helps you stay relaxed. Knowing what you want to do keeps your opponent in a disadvantageous position.

This drill designed to have players practice hitting volleys from different areas of the court so that they get better at hitting volleys at different depths and begin to memorize where to hit the volley based on their own court position.

Here are the general rules to remember:
1. The farther you are away from the next, the less aggressive you should be with the volley. Just be content to get the volley back in play. Aim for a spot as deep as possible maintaining a margin for error. Aim for a spot that is directly in front of you (so if you're in the middle of the court aim for the middle of the court).
2. The closer you get to the next, the more aggressive you should be with the volley. Concentrate on placement instead of power. If you are fairly close, but not on top of the next aim for a deep corner. If you are very close to the net, aim for a short angle winner.
3. Hit your overheads with authority. You have just as much a chance of missing a tentative overhead as an overhead hit with power. And a tentative overhead means your opponent will probably get it back. The only exceptions to this rule are if you can barely reach the lob or you are extremely deep in your court.
4. If you don't have time to get under a high ball or overhead, lock your right arm and swing through it like a volley. This typically happens when you are coming to the net after a serve. If your weight is still moving forward hitting a full overhead is very low percentage.

One player stands at the baseline. The other player starts a step back from the service line in the middle of the court. The player at the baseline feeds a ball in play; the feeds should be varied so that the player at the service line has to hit both volleys and half-volleys. From the starting position, the net player should put the ball back deep to the center of the court with a high margin of safety. After hitting the shot, the net player should take a step closer (which may be part of the act of hitting the volley or half-volley). The player at the baseline is now free to try to pass or lob the player at the net. The player at the net should hit a volley according to the rules above and move a step in until he she is a racquet-and-arm length from the net.

To practice what to hit in each position, the player at the baseline can play points where he only hits balls to the middle or forehand or backhand side for the entire point.

You can also have the net man stay at a certain court depth (i.e. not take a step in) to practice what to hit at that depth. This is probably a good way to start when the player is just learning the rules.

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