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Steal This Drill: Slice Backhands and Volleys

Here is another great drill for you to practice with your friends or coach (preferably the former). This drill involves volleys and slices - two strokes that are not often mastered by today's youth. If you want to become a great player, it is important to practice being multi-dimensional. Once you relegate yourself to a certain game style, a good opponent will be able to take you out of your comfort zone. However, if you have additional tricks in the bag to fall back upon, the opponent will have a more difficult time getting to you.

With the foregoing in mind, the drill is as follows: 1 player at the net; 1 player at the baseline. The baseline player gets to cover one half (his backhand half) only. The player at the net must cover his whole singles court. The baseline player can only hit slice backhands (including chip-lobs) but the volley player cannot hit any winners (i.e. she must move the baseline player around in the half-court with deep or angle volleys). At first blush, it seems like it would be a simple game, however, as the baseline player's slice develops, his shots will be more difficult to handle for the volleyer. The perfect slices will skim the net and go fairly close to the sidelines (without missing) (image #2). The baseline player should seek to move his opponent around with these knifing backhands and break down the volleyers legs. The players can play baseline games up to 11, 15 or 21 and then switch roles. This is a great drill to incorporate in your 1-on-1 practices outside of lessons (Note: drill can also be done 2-on-1 with two players at the net). Remember, don't wait for a coach to force-feed you information. Take accountability for your own development. 

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