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Building Invincible Volleys: The Israeli Slice versus the Flat Style

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  • smithc
    replied
    Great article. I have to admit I only teach the slice volley with the continental grip, described by John, with a wrinkle at the top of the wrist. I think the slice volley is more consistent in controlling the speed and hight of incoming balls as well as creating angles.

    However, I will be changing my teaching progression as I agree with Kyle, the flat volley should be taught first especially with the backhand volley, as slice is naturally created anyway. (I find students hit the bottom of the ball instead of the back when teaching a slice ( thank you guys as this is a problem I could not solve) . One thought, the heal pad will shift slightly between FH and BH volley especially on an inside out FH volley.

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  • clewit
    replied
    Agreed that midcourt volleys can be more slicier. They are close cousins to the slice approach shot.

    Leave a comment:


  • J011yroger
    replied
    I teach everyone flat and add just enough slice as needed to control the ball flight or hit the desired target. Excessive slice tends to be a recipe for unforced errors, and a heavily sliced ball is only really useful if the opponent is going to get to the ball, so mostly on first volley behind the service line, where as much as you can put on the ball without risking error helps by slowing down the ball flight to allow your closing the net, and also making a more difficult shot for your opponent to pass off of.

    J

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  • doctorhl
    replied
    Any thoughts about these two styles at mid court versus net area? The style most successful on the first volley seems to the “go to” style if you want to stick with one style.

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  • clewit
    replied
    Good thoughts. You make a good case for the flat style volley.

    However, I believe the flat style volley is more commonly taught, which challenges your second hypothesis.

    —Chris

    Originally posted by jthb1021 View Post
    The best volleyers seem to use the “flat style” because it’s the strongest structure for your hand, arm, and racquet. When players prepare with strings more behind the ball but with less vertical above the hand and use the legs to adjust the height honestly less can go wrong. Since the path of the racquet is staying on the plane of the shot exponentially longer the timing of the flat style doesn’t have to be quite so perfect like the slice style does with the racquet head well above the hand in the preparation while perfectly timing the mix of carving down and through the ball. I find players can control depth a ton better as well using the flat style and for club players and doubles players that should be your go to style with the slice style used for the drop volleys and touch angles.
    Great article! In my opinion based on reading on this site the volleys in tennis have deteriorated over the last 20-30 years and I believe a major contributor to that is the shift that the slice style is taught to players to be the first option and flat as a secondary. When you watch Tim Henman and Martina Navratilova it’s the opposite.


    Originally posted by jthb1021 View Post
    The best volleyers seem to use the “flat style” because it’s the strongest structure for your hand, arm, and racquet. When players prepare with strings more behind the ball but with less vertical above the hand and use the legs to adjust the height honestly less can go wrong. Since the path of the racquet is staying on the plane of the shot exponentially longer the timing of the flat style doesn’t have to be quite so perfect like the slice style does with the racquet head well above the hand in the preparation while perfectly timing the mix of carving down and through the ball. I find players can control depth a ton better as well using the flat style and for club players and doubles players that should be your go to style with the slice style used for the drop volleys and touch angles.
    Great article! In my opinion based on reading on this site the volleys in tennis have deteriorated over the last 20-30 years and I believe a major contributor to that is the shift that the slice style is taught to players to be the first option and flat as a secondary. When you watch Tim Henman and Martina Navratilova it’s the opposite.

    Leave a comment:


  • jthb1021
    replied
    The best volleyers seem to use the “flat style” because it’s the strongest structure for your hand, arm, and racquet. When players prepare with strings more behind the ball but with less vertical above the hand and use the legs to adjust the height honestly less can go wrong. Since the path of the racquet is staying on the plane of the shot exponentially longer the timing of the flat style doesn’t have to be quite so perfect like the slice style does with the racquet head well above the hand in the preparation while perfectly timing the mix of carving down and through the ball. I find players can control depth a ton better as well using the flat style and for club players and doubles players that should be your go to style with the slice style used for the drop volleys and touch angles.
    Great article! In my opinion based on reading on this site the volleys in tennis have deteriorated over the last 20-30 years and I believe a major contributor to that is the shift that the slice style is taught to players to be the first option and flat as a secondary. When you watch Tim Henman and Martina Navratilova it’s the opposite.

    Leave a comment:


  • klacr
    replied
    Originally posted by don_budge View Post

    How about this? It is much easier to hit flat volleys on the forehand side and it is much easier to spin the ball on the backhand side. So the object of this lesson is to learn both on both sides without losing sight of these facts which will dictate the inherent tendencies.

    I found in my playing days that my forehand volley was used for more "power" and my backhand was designed to exploit with more touch, spin and placement.

    One important aspect of this thought is that you must come to grips with the proper grip.

    Thoughtful article as always from clewitt.
    I can agree with that. However, teaching the backhand volley naturally as a flat shot there will be significantly more slice on it due to the movement of the arm. By emphasizing the slice on a backhand tends to be too extreme and overdoes it.

    Kyle LaCroix USPTA
    Delray Beach
    SETS Consulting

    Leave a comment:


  • don_budge
    replied
    Originally posted by klacr View Post
    Great article.
    The flat volley is the dominant stroke for higher level players when getting that volley in the strike zone. The slice style is great for shorter angles but requires some better timing. I like to teach the concept of the flat style first, and if they can get that there then we start to use some creativity and use the slice volley. The standard of volleys across the board have gone down as stotty mentioned...however, I only see this as an opportunity to develop players with a better shot in the arsenal and make some inroads again in the forecourt. Wherever there are problems, It's important to see solutions and opportunity.

    Great article by Chris and looking forward to future ones in this series.

    Kyle LaCroix USPTA
    Delray Beach
    SETS Consulting
    How about this? It is much easier to hit flat volleys on the forehand side and it is much easier to spin the ball on the backhand side. So the object of this lesson is to learn both on both sides without losing sight of these facts which will dictate the inherent tendencies.

    I found in my playing days that my forehand volley was used for more "power" and my backhand was designed to exploit with more touch, spin and placement.

    One important aspect of this thought is that you must come to grips with the proper grip.

    Thoughtful article as always from clewitt.

    Leave a comment:


  • klacr
    replied
    Great article.
    The flat volley is the dominant stroke for higher level players when getting that volley in the strike zone. The slice style is great for shorter angles but requires some better timing. I like to teach the concept of the flat style first, and if they can get that there then we start to use some creativity and use the slice volley. The standard of volleys across the board have gone down as stotty mentioned...however, I only see this as an opportunity to develop players with a better shot in the arsenal and make some inroads again in the forecourt. Wherever there are problems, It's important to see solutions and opportunity.

    Great article by Chris and looking forward to future ones in this series.

    Kyle LaCroix USPTA
    Delray Beach
    SETS Consulting

    Leave a comment:


  • doctorhl
    replied
    Glacierguy: I use the” turn the key in the lock” when the ball is coming really fast. At the club level where slower “”floaters” still occur, the opponent has time to read my racket and I find it more difficult to execute.

    Stotty: Your analysis always reveals years of accumulated wisdom. Playing a month with wooden rackets would be the best way for a player to experience the need for certain techniques and shots, but why bother.

    Leave a comment:


  • stotty
    replied
    I think the flat style becomes the prominent technique on higher volleys once the ball gets up above the shoulder line. I am less keen on the Israeli style if it means encouraging players to carve down the back of the ball too much. The skill in the past was always to get just a modicum of backspin so the ball could travel quicker and not hover. I have seen players block lower forehand volleys completely flat on the stretch (like Henman in the clip below). You need to good to do that as it takes a lot of control.

    With volleys, it is perhaps a mistake to look at today's players because they rarely venture to the net unless it's gimme put-away. The standard of volleys has gone down over the years not up...and, no, I am not stuck in time warp. It's just fact.

    John made an interesting comment in an article about the grip on the forehand volley; that the heel pad be just slightly on top and just creasing bevel 1. He states the the term continental is too general and usually leads to too much of the heel pad on top of the frame, which can lead to later contact and less leverage. That said, I remember watching Nastase switch his grip to a mild backhand grip to reach low forehand volleys on a stretch. I guess he learned to this naturally without coaching. In those days you had to cater for all manner of volleys while today players move in behind 'overwhelming force' to leave themselves straightforward put-aways. Classic tennis and Modern tennis are two different games in my view, but we can still learn an awful lot about volleying by studying the classic era.


    Here is a 1-minute clip on volleys by Tim Henman. He blocks low volleys flat like Rafter.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MHreRKEErSM

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  • glacierguy
    replied
    Did anyone else learn to drop volley by imagining the racquet turning like a key in a lock? That's a much quicker way to achieve a drop, than a big slicey swing.

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  • clewit
    replied
    Good thoughts. I will check in periodically to answer any questions!

    Thanks everyone!

    Leave a comment:


  • doctorhl
    replied
    Great article. I agree that both styles should be learned. I feel that the Israeli style is more conducive to learning the drop volley than the flat style. Powerful doubles poaches are more effective with the flat style, which don’t use up as much time with a long shoulder turn as the Israeli style.

    Leave a comment:


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