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Close The Deal On Your Volleys
by: Randy Cummings
Match Point Racquet Sports

The biggest difference I see between higher and lower level doubles players is that better players generally move forward as they prepare to hit a volley. They get in close to the net and "close the deal."

What I mean by this is that these players anticipate when their opponents are hitting a shot they can volley, and then move toward the ball immediately so as to hit the most offensive volley they can. They don't wait passively for the ball to come to them but step in and take the ball early. By hitting their volley closer to the net, they have an easier, safer shot. The net is less of an obstacle and the court is more open.

Weaker players, in contrast, seldom move forward. Some don't move their feet at all. As a result, these players often volley balls below their knees, giving their opponents a weak, rising ball that begs to be killed. Inexperienced doubles players, rather than step in, often back up and hit what could have been a relatively easy volley as a desperation half-volley or a groundstroke.

Remember, the easiest volley to hit is a shoulder level ball. If you can also take this ball several feet inside the service line (what is called the ideal volleying position), your margin of safety is much greater. More court is open and you will be hitting down on the ball, making it a difficult shot to return. Moreover, by taking the ball early, you give your opponents less time to react.

To anticipate your volleys earlier, do a split-step just as your opponent begins to strike the ball. With your weight forward, try to spring out of the split step just as the ball leaves your opponent's racquet. This will enable you to react quickly to the ball, taking one or several steps forward or laterally to intercept the volley.

Next time you're playing doubles, anticipate the volley and move forward to take it earlier and higher above the net. Close the deal on your volleys. You'll win more points and you'll have more fun at doubles.

Randy Cummings
Match Point Racquet Sports