The second part of our handy hints of how to improve your net play focuses on tactics and how to get into the zone.
Getting In The Zone
As part of adopting a serve and volley game there are three zones that a player will transition through when moving forward towards the net and for volleys and overhead shots.
It is of great importance that you always are moving forwards after each volley and ready to apply the brakes to back it up or anticipate the lob.
- Zone 1 – This is behind or just inside the service line
- Zone 2 – This is the next movement position midway inside the service box
- Zone 3 – This is closing right on top of the net
Being too close to the net if you have not put a winner away puts you susceptible to a lob shot. Your main aim closing in is to close off the space between zones two and one, therefore creating more passing / lobbing pressure for your opponent.
Where and when is the best approach tactically?
- Down the line
- Up the middle
- High and Deep
You must select your shot selection if you are intending to move into the net, to do this you must have complete awareness of your position on court. You need to get yourself inside the baseline to attempt good technical new play, playing too far behind the baseline will prohibit this.
Select your shot weapon to enable you to move forward, whether it be a slice or a drive and make sure that it allows you to gain ground and go into the net.
Always try to play against your opponents weaknesses, and use down-the-line shots as your percentage play, this will reduce the passing angle and taking time away from your opponent to counter attack.
The ball height, bounce and distance can also have a bearing on whether you choose to go crosscourt or open. Bear in mind the closer you get to the net the more angles are open to you and the more time you steal from your opponent.
The speed of movement towards the net and your physical presence adds pressure on your opponent. Don’t be deterred if you are passed early on in the game, keep to your game plan and stay positive.
Tips For A Better Net Game
Good coaches and decent clubs will be able to provide you with help and tips to develop your net game. Here are some of the best:-
- Practise your volleys and overheads against a wall
- Know where you are tactically
- Know your opponents passing / lobbing options
- Practise your volleys moving through volley zone one and two
- Keep a strong base, flex your legs and keep balanced through the volley as your weight moves forward
- Use your net game as a tactical weapon, a mix-up play, tempo changer, pressure builder, a bluff, confidence builder, energy saver, a baseline weakness coverer, a surpriser and most importantly developing yourself as an all-rounder.
- Play doubles and be challenged by the opportunities that arise for developing your net game.
- Vary your net play according to the score in order to create pressure on your opponent.
It is without doubt that some of the most talented players ever in the game, have mastered a serve and volley tactic. It is certainly a way to counter aggressive baseline players and gives more of any opportunity to mix up your game.