AFRAID TO BE AT THE NET!.
It is becoming more important to be able to play at the net, in singles; and imperative in doubles.
I often hear players who are middle stream club players
state that they do not like playing at the net, however, every single person
I teach spends plenty of time at the net and I ensure this happens from the time they start to play tennis. This does ensure that they are
happy and comfortable being at the net from the beginning.
Whatever their style of play might be, even if they turn
out to be natural baseline players, it is my contention, that they must know how
to volley; it will stand them in good stead at sometime in their career.
When watching on the T.V., top players competing in tour
matches, it is often pointed out, when one player has to approach the net; that
they are not a good volleyer! These players have not spent enough time practicing the art of volleying and it must be remembered that
their opponent is generally making it very difficult for them to volley effectively. They must wish (at that point in time) that they had
practiced a little bit more at the net.
If we take beginner players and sometimes even improvers; there are two areas where they have to learn what must be done.
The first is to ‘always be in the ready position’
The second is ‘to always be be ready for the ball’
Both points do not necessarily go together, a player can be
alert expecting the ball but their racquet is not up in front of them, equally
can be in the ready position with racquet up in front of them but their mind is wandering.
We are going to look at the beginners and improvers first,
and one of the very best drills/games I use is ‘Volley Champions’, I am
this again in this newsletter for your convenience. If used correctly, both the above points are covered; plus the players love this game
(I also use it for better players, during a volley lesson).
For the beginners etc., it is best to use transition balls, as if they are hit, due to not being ready etc., they do not get hurt.
You see, to make this game really work, you should feed
randomly and not look toward the player your feeding to, this should be made a
fun situation and calling out ‘are you ready’ – ‘are you sure’ etc., if the game is performed quickly, they soon learn what is needed. It is a
good idea – from the fun point of view to say ‘your history’, ‘aurevoir’, cheerio’ etc, and ‘you were not looking’ they quickly fall into the fun
side of the game.
When doing this game with better players, I use real tennis
balls – you can start with feeding relatively easy and gradually pick up the
speed of the hit, until they can receive the type of ball likely to be encountered in a match. I find that nearly all players will become
accustomed to harder hit balls and to be able to react accordingly – you will be surprised.
One further point concern the actual feed, do not be too
kind once they can take the ball, some low balls over the net, place them in a
difficult position and they will learn to adapt. Also move the vollyers further away from the net.