Borrowing Pace - Return the Skidding Approach or Volley
I received this question from a reader How does one return a low and skidding volley when playing doubles? A good question, but first - What makes a ball skid and why would a volleyer want that? Backspin can be used to chip the ball, and in most instances the chips float rather high and take more or less a normal bounce. Backspin can also be used to drive the ball (underspin approach or volley) and in this instance the ball will skid ever so slightly and bounce lower than a more normal topspin shot. The lower skidding bounce lowers the opponent's height of contact, and reduces the time they have to play the shot. This generally makes things more difficult for the baseliner.
Click photo to hear Jim McLennan talk about returning a skidding, underspin ball.
Now when approaching or volleying with sharp backspin, not a chip or a chop but rather a backspin drive, the ball will skid and bounce low. Taylor Dent takes the net on the return of serve with just such a shot, and were he just slightly more fit, he might take Agassi apart with this strategy (he has come close a couple of times) because this skidding ball rushes Agassi and denies him the rhythm and bounce of the more commonly used topspin groundstroke. Well, whether Agassi, or you and I, what are the tricks of the trade when rushed and bending low for a skidding ball?
Borrow, borrow, borrow. As regards one's tempo and racquet speed, players can either add pace or borrow pace. That is, one can add to the pace of an incoming ball and send it back faster than it arrived, or one can borrow the pace of that incoming ball and send it back slower than it arrived, somehow absorbing the collision rather than adding to it. Borrowing is not bunting, mind you. Borrowing is just the technique of reducing racquet movement in both the backswing and follow through, and simply making the best contact with the least effort. You might call it a pick-up, or a short hop, or simply a quick stroke.
Click photo to see Taylor Dent seize the net with a stinging, underspin return.
Volleyers are always borrowing pace, and as you might imagine servers must always be adding pace. The trick in the game is to decide when to borrow and when to add. Often the biggest hitters have the most trouble borrowing, and unfortunately, but equally true, the best borrowers have the most trouble adding pace. When you look back at the roster of champions, many times the best volleyers Pat Cash, Stefan Edberg, Patrick Rafter had stellar returns of serve, because there one must always be borrowing just to get the ball in play. And it may be no coincidence that the big hitting, uncomfortable volleying, Andy Roddick gets poor marks for his ability to return serve.
So the trick on the baseline is to keep the ball low and at the volleyer's feet whenever possible. Borrowing pace slows things down. Borrowing pace gives you just a little more chance to keep the ball low. And finally, borrowing pace gives just that slight bit of disguise, for the tempo of a lob is more or less the same as that of a borrowed groundie, and you have ever so much more of a chance to fool the opponent with finesse when you slow things down.
As always, we would love to hear from you! Questions, comments, personal experiences all create helpful dialogue for everyone! Please click here to send us your email.
(Click link to purchase Jim's McLennan's Secrets of World Class Footwork Video.)
ProStrokes Gallery: Maria Sharapova - Forehand
The reigning Princess of the tennis world, Maria was groomed by the legendary coach, Robert Lansdorp. She plays a big game, never temporizing, always looking to move forward, and competing fiercely for every point. And this month, Sharapova is poised to capture the Number One ranking. If so, she will be the fourth youngest woman to hold the top spot in computer rankings history. A pretty heady position for this ambitious Russian with the booming groundstrokes.
Federer and Coria – The Art of the Big Forehand
When discussing big forehands, Roger Federer and Guillermo Coria are obvious choices. Both Coria and Federer can keep the forehand in play with heavy topspin, but equally both can create openings and hit through opponents when the opportunity arises. Jim McLennan subjects these to players to SiliconCoach analysis and discovers how similar their forehands appear. And for those of you out there trying to learn the modern forehand, these two may be the best examples we can mimic.
See a quick video overview of Jim McLennan's article (available to non-TennisOne members also).
Windows of Acceptance
Once the ball has left your racquet, there is nothing you can do to influence what it does. However, an experienced player can observe the initial trajectory and be able to predict approximately where the ball will land, how high it will bounce, how much clearance over the net the ball will have, and how much time the player will have to get to the ball. All of this is determined by the laws of physics, and it is possible to use the laws of physics to a tennis player's advantage. Howard Brody
Confidence is a quality that is universally associated with peak performance and yet a quality which can just as easily disappear. Has it ever really been examined or understood so that players can be taught to use it when they most need it. A greater awareness of what it is, how it can be obtained is crucial to players of all levels if they wish to reach their full athletic potential. Happy Bhalla focuses his unique prospective on confidence and and its role in Peak Athletic Performance.
Product Highlights: Pro Tech Video Analysis
The Pro Tech Video Analysis system is the industry's premier video analysis service. Pro Tech puts your strokes side-by-side with the strokes of three professional players, providing a detailed graphical analysis of your strokes compared to the reference points of these top pros. This invaluable visual comparison, combined with the detailed analysis by a current tour professional coach, offers the most advanced and unique learning environment in tennis. Pro Tech will store your video lessons for two years on your own web page, so you and your coach can evaluate your progress from anywhere in the world. TennisOne members receive a 10% discount.
Jeff Greenwald - Fearless Tennis
Feel you're playing tentatively and know that you have greater potential than you're demonstrating in tournaments? This one of a kind, double- CD audio program, FearlessTennnis: The 5 Mental Keys To Unlocking Your Potential, will help you compete with confidence, close out matches and is a great way to get the mental edge en route to a tournament.
Schedule Jeff Greenwald to Speak
If you wish to be removed from our newsletter list, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and leave the subject line blank. A confirmation email will be sent to you, and you will be removed from our newsletter list once you reply to that confirmation.
Copyright Notice: The contents of the TennisONE web site and contents forwarded to you by TennisONE are intended for your personal, noncommercial use. Republishing of TennisONE content in any way, including framing or posting of these materials on other Web sites, is strictly prohibited. See our full copyright statement