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Dave’s Drills – Playing the Game at Both Ends

Posted on May 19 2016

Today’s Dave’s Drills looks at recognising moments in match play where you have the opponent on the run and how and when to capitalise on these moments by sneaking into the net.

The New Style of Playing Tennis

We all remember the grace of Tim Henman around the net. His rush-the-net tactics combined with his scintillating touch, making the game look all too easy, provided unbelievable entertainment but, at least for the British public, heartbreak.

Henman takes a volley

Henman takes a volley.

Henman was one of the last professionals to really excel using an older style of play. Tennis has since been replaced with consistent power hitting and having two big weapons.
One player who helped cement the change in style of play was Rafael Nadal whose outstanding fitness, impenetrable defence, solid groundstrokes, and an unstoppable forehand paved the way for the tennis world to try and emulate his style.

The Way we teach Tennis Now

This can be seen in the way we teach. Children now practice more than ever, hitting hundreds if not thousands of balls sometimes at the loss of actual match practice.

Don’t lose sight of the Net!

The new style of coaching is not necessarily bad; what is important however is not to lose sight of the net. When used correctly, coming into volley to finish the point is an extremely important skill to have.

Andy Murray demonstrated this in his most recent victory over Novak Djokovic. The Scot has previously been unable to overcome his Serbian rival in the past 13 attempts, but a change in tactics involving an impressive control of the net as well as the aid of a slow, damp clay court meant Murray lifted the trophy in Rome.

Another ‘alright’ tennis player to show how useful affective net play can still be is a certain Roger Federer. The Swiss legend struggled for a couple of years in which media even called for his retirement.

Federer recognised a change needed to happen and called in Stefan Edberg to bring some changes to his game. The world’s greatest ever player proceeded to regain his prestige and had it not been for Novak Djokovic would have most certainly added to his impressive 17 grand slam victories.

..(Take a look at these ridiculous half volley returns from Federer!)

So, here is Dave’s take on taking advantage of a good position!

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