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The Net Game: Macro Perspective

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  • jeffreycounts
    started a topic The Net Game: Macro Perspective

    The Net Game: Macro Perspective

    Let's discuss Chris Lewit's latest article, "The Net Game: Macro Perspective"

  • nytennisaddict
    replied
    Originally posted by don_budge View Post
    Excellent thoughts NYTA. It's a thinking man's game when you include going to the net as part of your tactics. But absent from your thoughts is the all important approach shot. This is why I am advocating a full retreat all the way back to the baseline. You must start from scratch repeatedly getting the hang and the timing of hitting the ball while going forwards. No reason not to throw in one of those angled volleys once you are in position at the net. Then you just immediately throw another ball in play. Both drill partners should have at least four balls at their immediate disposal and why not throw down a dozen in front of the partner on the baseline. Just keep it going. Up and back. You would do fine to throw in twenty minutes of this in every session. I think a huge reason why players don't go to the net is because they haven't number one...thought it out. Number two...they haven't put in the reps. Put in thousands of reps and I guarantee that this will be an effective aspect of your repertoire.

    Another thing you will want to throw into this kind of practice/drilling is the lob. Once the net player gets there then the baseline player throw a lob over his head. Hit the overhead and immediately go towards the net again. The baseline player can throw up another lob or a volley at the feet. Yeah...there are a lot of possibilities when you are approaching the net. It requires a lot of practice and a real different mindset.
    yup, true,... probably need to explicity spend more time practicing approach shots (mainly incorporated when playing the "groundstroke game with 2pt bonus to come to net")

    i like the idea of always having 3-4 balls in the pocket for the sake of continuity... will incorporate that.

    i definltey spend time hiting lob/oh... but only with a few select partners (consistent enough) that also have the practice-with-purpose mindset... 90% of rec folks just want to hit from the baseline

    Leave a comment:


  • don_budge
    replied
    Excellent thoughts NYTA. It's a thinking man's game when you include going to the net as part of your tactics. But absent from your thoughts is the all important approach shot. This is why I am advocating a full retreat all the way back to the baseline. You must start from scratch repeatedly getting the hang and the timing of hitting the ball while going forwards. No reason not to throw in one of those angled volleys once you are in position at the net. Then you just immediately throw another ball in play. Both drill partners should have at least four balls at their immediate disposal and why not throw down a dozen in front of the partner on the baseline. Just keep it going. Up and back. You would do fine to throw in twenty minutes of this in every session. I think a huge reason why players don't go to the net is because they haven't number one...thought it out. Number two...they haven't put in the reps. Put in thousands of reps and I guarantee that this will be an effective aspect of your repertoire.

    Another thing you will want to throw into this kind of practice/drilling is the lob. Once the net player gets there then the baseline player throw a lob over his head. Hit the overhead and immediately go towards the net again. The baseline player can throw up another lob or a volley at the feet. Yeah...there are a lot of possibilities when you are approaching the net. It requires a lot of practice and a real different mindset.

    Leave a comment:


  • nytennisaddict
    replied
    Originally posted by don_budge View Post
    Yes...for sure, the courts are a factor. Another equally important factor, or perhaps even more important is the "lost art form" of approach or even serving tactics and service motions designed to go forwards. So now the problem is multi-dimensional and perhaps there are not short term viable solutions. So the point of my posting the repost was the drill of going forwards and backwards and not at any point in practicing volleys standing in a static position.

    Over the last decade I have written extensively about this type of practice. This is how I practiced when I was playing competitively. Sure...we would do a couple of crosscourts...some down the lines. But way more than that it was a lineal progression to the net...and all points in between. It isn't just hitting a volley...but how do you get there?

    If it's ok with you...and glacierguy I would like to repost a couple of more posts. But I am very curious as to what Chris Lewit has to say further regarding the volley. Chris has really taken the modern game to heart and written such works as "The Tennis Bible" and so forth but as far as I am concerned it only reinforces the problem. Even this article expounds on why it doesn't work today instead of offering a solution to make it work. But he might do this is coming articles.

    My practice regimen directly addresses the problem of modern tennis net play. It is something that has to be practiced and then implemented. After practicing this up and back drill for half an hour or so then I would advise playing games up to ten where one player serves the entire game with the objective of coming to the net at the earliest convenience. This gives you the "feel" of what it takes to be successful at the net.

    Perhaps the biggest takeaway for me from Kyle's series on serve and volley was that it isn't going to be successful one hundred percent of the time. But you have to keep applying pressure with the almost fanatical idea that eventually you are going to prevail.


    100% agree. a while back i realized that static volleying (even if you make it difficult from behind the service line) is not the same as volleying while on the move (ie. forard toward the net). the feel is different... essentially while you're forward forward, you're "adding pace" to their shot, that must at times, be scrubbed (especially when making contact at/below the net height when you're hitting up which is more delicate than a firm drive volley typically taken at a higher contact point).

    to isolate the forward movement practice, i typically do these kinds of drills:
    * start 2-3ft behind svc line, make contact behind svc line, keep splitting/moving in until i can touch the net, then reset (
    * same drill as above, but with a coop partner... eg. they hit 2-3 drives, then a coop lob to send me back, then ideally i hit an approach overhead, and restart
    * "singles doubles"... coined by a guy that runs a tourny with that name... basically doubles rules, but half court cross only... and you must s&v
    * typical groundstroke games, but you get a "bonus" 2pt if you win the point on a approach/volley/overhead
    * any set play, just force myself to s&v and c&c... typically only do this against folks i beat regularly with my normal game style (aggressive baseliner looking to finish at net).

    one thing in find hard to get alot of reps for, is the soft short angle volley, as it typically ends a rally, so either someone is feeding me that shot (which most folks don't want to do), or i get to hit it so rarely (even when if i force myself to hit that shot in a practice game/set).

    but in general, practicing volleys is hard.. the art, is being able to hit all those odd angle volleys from weird contact points (ie. the ones that don't come up in a normal volley to baseline warmup), while also moving forward.

    regarding the "arent' going to be 100% successful"... yeah, you definitely end up winning a bunch of points just from the baseliner overhitting, especially if you've established you can volley/oh decently.

    Leave a comment:


  • stotty
    replied
    Be careful what you wish for...

    There have numerous boring Wimbledon finals in recent times (Roger v Cilic and Novak v Anderson spring to mind). But none were more boring than the Goran versus Sampras finals; two serving machines and no rallies. Those finals were the main reason Wimbledon slowed up the grass. When you had two players serving and volleying, the game would regularly be flagged up as boring by the media. Do we really lament the past or is it more to do with what replaced it?

    Wimbledon remains the best surface in the world and still provides the best game out there. No one would argue Roger v Novak was a terrific final which offered everything under the sun in terms skill and repertoire. Roger's full game was allowed to be unleashed and he came within a centimetre of winning. All he needed was a pair of balls on that mid-court ball at match point and it would have been good night.

    Tweaking the speed of the courts would be immensely difficult these days because if you go a tweak too far and you end up with Goran and Sampras again. More grass courts would be a better solution. There are not enough grass court tournaments and only Wimbledon carries a lot of ATP points. We could do with a couple 1000 events.

    Advanced volleying skills...

    If you really want to develop juniors who can volley well, then you need to work on their dexterity and hand skills. With advanced players, stand them in the middle of the service box and serve at them; serve into their feet; serve hard; try to trick them. Do this every lesson for months and you will be amazed how skilful players become at volleying low balls and digging balls off their feet. I went to Wimbledon the year before last and very few players can volley well below the height of the net. Dustin Brown was about the only one, actually. It's become a lost art I am afraid.

    Leave a comment:


  • glacierguy
    replied
    I'm enjoying this thread - keep going! Another volley drill I do often, is also practised by the Bryan brothers (I was told): 2 players start diagonally opposite at about service line, then whilst maintaining volley rally both move towards centre, and then over to other diagonal, and then back again, over and over. Believe me, it is exhausting once you get the hang of it. Just reinforcing the points made above that volley is inseparable from movement.

    Ironically enough, I am now out for a week, having sprained my right ankle after spit-stepping on net approach to cover a drive down my backhand line. On the plus side, the drive went in the net, so I won point. But had to hobble off.

    Leave a comment:


  • don_budge
    replied
    Yes...for sure, the courts are a factor. Another equally important factor, or perhaps even more important is the "lost art form" of approach or even serving tactics and service motions designed to go forwards. So now the problem is multi-dimensional and perhaps there are not short term viable solutions. So the point of my posting the repost was the drill of going forwards and backwards and not at any point in practicing volleys standing in a static position.

    Over the last decade I have written extensively about this type of practice. This is how I practiced when I was playing competitively. Sure...we would do a couple of crosscourts...some down the lines. But way more than that it was a lineal progression to the net...and all points in between. It isn't just hitting a volley...but how do you get there?

    If it's ok with you...and glacierguy I would like to repost a couple of more posts. But I am very curious as to what Chris Lewit has to say further regarding the volley. Chris has really taken the modern game to heart and written such works as "The Tennis Bible" and so forth but as far as I am concerned it only reinforces the problem. Even this article expounds on why it doesn't work today instead of offering a solution to make it work. But he might do this is coming articles.

    My practice regimen directly addresses the problem of modern tennis net play. It is something that has to be practiced and then implemented. After practicing this up and back drill for half an hour or so then I would advise playing games up to ten where one player serves the entire game with the objective of coming to the net at the earliest convenience. This gives you the "feel" of what it takes to be successful at the net.

    Perhaps the biggest takeaway for me from Kyle's series on serve and volley was that it isn't going to be successful one hundred percent of the time. But you have to keep applying pressure with the almost fanatical idea that eventually you are going to prevail.

    Originally posted by nytennisaddict View Post

    thx for reposting. definitely agree, that at the rec level, s&v is defintiely a viable option.
    another thing to consider... the us open for example, resurfaces regularly, the court speed is slow/gritty... (no bueno for s&v'ers)
    most clubs on the other hand probably resurface once every 5-10y... so basically usally fast...
    forget about outdoor courts... the ones by me haven't been resurfaced since the 80's... (ice!)
    ...making it much more viable to come to net behind an fast skidding (slice/flat) approach shot
    Originally posted by don_budge View Post
    nytennisaddict and glacierguy...a post from 2012.

    If you want to incorporate the approach game in the context of modern tennis one must first understand the logistical problems that one faces in such a rash act as approaching the net. As you have astutely surmised...there is no logical reason why that for 99.9% of the tennis playing population approaching the net should be out of the question. This includes the professional ranks as well. It seems that not only has the game been reengineered but there has been a sort of "brainwashing" that has taken place among the coaches, players and students of the game that says that it cannot be done. Social engineering as well as mechanical engineering.

    Of course it can be done, but you must use your head and make astute tactical decisions and choices about how and when you are going to approach and you must train the body and the mind as well as your strokes...to go forwards. Going forwards is an aggressive tactic and with the speed of the game there is no possibility of retreat so one must be decisive when going to the net. You go there to win and not to defend. This is a radical change in thinking compared to the way tennis is being played in this particular era.

    That being said please consider the following drills that I have worked on the forum here and at the small club that I work at. I feel that these drills incorporate the "process" of the net game and not just one particular aspect. I work on these drills with my beginner students as well as my more advanced students. The most difficult ball for a beginner to react to is the short ball and deep balls are another situation that gives the beginner a tough time.

    If you work with beginners at the beginning of their training in the tennis universe to go forwards it is not such a shock to their system if they should happen to find themselves in the position to go forwards...selectively. Take the short ball...put it someplace where your opponent will find themselves in an off balanced position to make their passing attempt and carry out your tactics and designs with the proper technique.

    Before talking about any specifics please consider these drills...use your imagination! We can call this "The Tennis Dance". Everyone grab a partner.

    1. Both players start at the baseline and one of the players advances to the net hitting balls with a rallying partner who keeps the ball going. The advancing player gets all the way to the net and then retreats all the way BEHIND the baseline...where he immediately advances to the net again. Up and back, over and over. He should complete the whole trip to the net and to the baseline hitting a maximum of six shots. Here you can throw up a lob when the approaching player reaches the net for some overhead practice. Control the rally, work together.

    2. One player starts at the net and the other starts at the baseline. The one at the net starts retreating as the rally commences and the baseline player advances to the net. One player is retreating as the other advances...up and back. Working in tandem. Control the rally, work together.

    3. Both players start at the net. Both players retreat to the baseline together and once they reach the baseline they both advance to the net together until they are close enough to shake hands. Then they retreat to their respective baselines at the same time. Control the rally, work together.


    The journey backwards to the baseline is just as important in this drill. The balance required to go backwards while to shift your weight forwards to meet the ball is part of your concept of skateboarding to the net. Hitting off balance is an art in itself. Half volleys, in between strokes all require a different mindset and stroke action that is only mastered with lots of repetition and work.

    I think also that this type of drill is best performed if you use all kinds of approach tactics and spins...don't rule out underspin, sidespin and flatter shots as a tactic that is designed to throw your opponent off balance. Work on your depth or hitting short. Borrow a couple of pages from McEnroe's book of approach tactics. That split second that it takes to make the adjustment from hitting off constant topspin and speed is often enough to give the advantage to the net player...at least that is the theory. Learn to hit the flatter ball as well...overspin tends to make the ball sit up a bit when penetration is of more paramount importance when approaching. It takes a different animal to go forwards than to go side to side and it requires a different set of skills technically speaking. I would greatly appreciate it if you would give me some feedback on these drills and you might possibly share them with your keen student...Jeff Greenwald.

    Your article represents a bold statement these days...to actually advocate going forwards is as you said...a dying concept. The journey that Jeff Greenwald, Paul Cohen and yourself have documented here is extremely interesting and further demonstrates that the Dodo does not necessarily have to die. Perhaps it can raise itself out of the ashes like the legendary Phoenix. It is an extraordinary concept and we have not even begun to discuss the possibilities of approaching the net behind a perfect service motion complete with masterful tactics...which come to think of it is another extinct bird.

    Leave a comment:


  • nytennisaddict
    replied
    Originally posted by arturohernandez View Post

    I'll see if I can go out and make a video. I might have misunderstood and then my "bolo" solution might not work.

    Meanwhile, I will play around with a "bolo" overhead on what I think is an in-between ball and post if successful.
    just came to me, that you're probably refering to his sky hook style overhead? that also is executed at full extension, albeit probably slightly behind me...
    i'm referring to a ball that is slightly too high for a volley, and too low for an overhead, but still "out in front of me".

    Leave a comment:


  • nytennisaddict
    replied
    Originally posted by don_budge View Post
    nytennisaddict and glacierguy...a post from 2012.

    Bring back the Dodo...I say.






    Quite right Rod. Super article! The way to bring back an extinct species is an interesting subject and today one immediately thinks of cloning...but the first step to bringing it back into existence is to think about it and then you must talk about it. Why did it go extinct and how do you bring it back?

    Fascinating that here at the TennisPlayer.net this talk has revived such a discussion about volleying and such. But of course no conversation about volleying is justifiable unless you first talk about approaching the net. Afterall, how are you going to get into position to make a volley. You must approach the net.

    The engineering of the game with regard to racquets, court surfaces and most recently the strings have all served tennis in a negative way if you wish to consider the way that it was originally conceived to be played. For years one of the most important aspects of the game was the tradition and this permeated the sport throughout from the color of the clothes which were all white for many decades to the equipment and to sportsmanship. It has been an act of extreme arrogance to completely disregard the original premise that the game was designed around and much has gone by the wayside as a result.

    If you want to incorporate the approach game in the context of modern tennis one must first understand the logistical problems that one faces in such a rash act as approaching the net. As you have astutely surmised...there is no logical reason why that for 99.9% of the tennis playing population approaching the net should be out of the question. This includes the professional ranks as well. It seems that not only has the game been reengineered but there has been a sort of "brainwashing" that has taken place among the coaches, players and students of the game that says that it cannot be done. Social engineering as well as mechanical engineering.

    Of course it can be done, but you must use your head and make astute tactical decisions and choices about how and when you are going to approach and you must train the body and the mind as well as your strokes...to go forwards. Going forwards is an aggressive tactic and with the speed of the game there is no possibility of retreat so one must be decisive when going to the net. You go there to win and not to defend. This is a radical change in thinking compared to the way tennis is being played in this particular era.

    That being said please consider the following drills that I have worked on the forum here and at the small club that I work at. I feel that these drills incorporate the "process" of the net game and not just one particular aspect. I work on these drills with my beginner students as well as my more advanced students. The most difficult ball for a beginner to react to is the short ball and deep balls are another situation that gives the beginner a tough time.

    If you work with beginners at the beginning of their training in the tennis universe to go forwards it is not such a shock to their system if they should happen to find themselves in the position to go forwards...selectively. Take the short ball...put it someplace where your opponent will find themselves in an off balanced position to make their passing attempt and carry out your tactics and designs with the proper technique.

    Before talking about any specifics please consider these drills...use your imagination! We can call this "The Tennis Dance". Everyone grab a partner.

    1. Both players start at the baseline and one of the players advances to the net hitting balls with a rallying partner who keeps the ball going. The advancing player gets all the way to the net and then retreats all the way BEHIND the baseline...where he immediately advances to the net again. Up and back, over and over. He should complete the whole trip to the net and to the baseline hitting a maximum of six shots. Here you can throw up a lob when the approaching player reaches the net for some overhead practice. Control the rally, work together.

    2. One player starts at the net and the other starts at the baseline. The one at the net starts retreating as the rally commences and the baseline player advances to the net. One player is retreating as the other advances...up and back. Working in tandem. Control the rally, work together.

    3. Both players start at the net. Both players retreat to the baseline together and once they reach the baseline they both advance to the net together until they are close enough to shake hands. Then they retreat to their respective baselines at the same time. Control the rally, work together.


    The journey backwards to the baseline is just as important in this drill. The balance required to go backwards while to shift your weight forwards to meet the ball is part of your concept of skateboarding to the net. Hitting off balance is an art in itself. Half volleys, in between strokes all require a different mindset and stroke action that is only mastered with lots of repetition and work.

    I think also that this type of drill is best performed if you use all kinds of approach tactics and spins...don't rule out underspin, sidespin and flatter shots as a tactic that is designed to throw your opponent off balance. Work on your depth or hitting short. Borrow a couple of pages from McEnroe's book of approach tactics. That split second that it takes to make the adjustment from hitting off constant topspin and speed is often enough to give the advantage to the net player...at least that is the theory. Learn to hit the flatter ball as well...overspin tends to make the ball sit up a bit when penetration is of more paramount importance when approaching. It takes a different animal to go forwards than to go side to side and it requires a different set of skills technically speaking. I would greatly appreciate it if you would give me some feedback on these drills and you might possibly share them with your keen student...Jeff Greenwald.

    Your article represents a bold statement these days...to actually advocate going forwards is as you said...a dying concept. The journey that Jeff Greenwald, Paul Cohen and yourself have documented here is extremely interesting and further demonstrates that the Dodo does not necessarily have to die. Perhaps it can raise itself out of the ashes like the legendary Phoenix. It is an extraordinary concept and we have not even begun to discuss the possibilities of approaching the net behind a perfect service motion complete with masterful tactics...which come to think of it is another extinct bird.
    thx for reposting. definitely agree, that at the rec level, s&v is defintiely a viable option.
    another thing to consider... the us open for example, resurfaces regularly, the court speed is slow/gritty... (no bueno for s&v'ers)
    most clubs on the other hand probably resurface once every 5-10y... so basically usally fast...
    forget about outdoor courts... the ones by me haven't been resurfaced since the 80's... (ice!)
    ...making it much more viable to come to net behind an fast skidding (slice/flat) approach shot

    Leave a comment:


  • stotty
    replied
    I always felt a main premise for players of the past going to the net was to make/force their opponent into making a difficult shot. To pass someone you need to hit hard and low and use disguise, which is not as easy at 30-40 as it is at 15-15. I think this premise can still be applied in the modern tennis. Chris's use of the word 'judicious' is very apt, and I sometimes wish when Roger plays Novak he would make a point of coming in on all those break points. I have seen Ivo Karlovic beat Novak twice by serving out of tree and coming in on every break point. It worked. Novak blew his passes on those big points.

    I can't see tennis making the quantum leap of players hitting topspin volleys from no man's land. I see the game getting slightly more traditional (note slightly) in the sense players will become more all round. The BIG 3 have all got better in their twilight by adding a little more versatility and repertoire to their game. I can see that catching on. If upcoming players are to learn anything from the The BIG 3 it would be the importance of robust defence and to never stop adding strings to their bows.

    It's really tough to become a good volleyer, though, for a player who has spent his entire junior career stuck to the baseline. Good volley skills need to be taught young for a player to really feel at home at the net. Zverev desperately needs a volley but I am doubtful he can achieve it. He is just so uncomfortable at the net.

    But going back to my main point, putting opponents under pressure by coming to the net on big points is a good move...always was, always will be.
    Last edited by stotty; 02-08-2020, 12:51 PM.

    Leave a comment:


  • arturohernandez
    replied
    Originally posted by nytennisaddict View Post

    i can't even picture what your're talking about... have a vid? is this how you handle it? my solution has been to slice it back (much less pace than a full smash) deep as an approach shot
    I'll see if I can go out and make a video. I might have misunderstood and then my "bolo" solution might not work.

    Meanwhile, I will play around with a "bolo" overhead on what I think is an in-between ball and post if successful.

    Leave a comment:


  • clewit
    replied
    If you are attacking the net and hitting a lot of half volleys at your feet, something is wrong! Thatís too risky.

    Adjust your approach decisions, improve your transitions, and try not to hit too many short hops!

    Leave a comment:


  • clewit
    replied
    The speed of the serve and return, and the court speed of course, all affect the ability of the server to get into the best position at net.

    Serving at 140+ reduces the time allowed to get in. Itís simply a mathematical calculation.

    The pace generated on the return also affects this calculus.

    Leave a comment:


  • clewit
    replied
    I will try to check in this week to answer any questions. Thanks everyone!

    Chris

    Leave a comment:


  • clewit
    replied
    The three partner flow drills suggested are definitely good exercises for building comfort in transitions

    Chris

    Leave a comment:

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