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Entries in Volleys (21)


Steal This Drill: 1-up 1-back variation

We've all done this drill: one player (coach) is at the net, the other is at the baseline. The net player moves the baseline player around the baseline thereby providing him with repetition and the opportunity to work on good footwork (due to shorter reaction time). There are a few downsides to this drill including (1) the baseline player is hitting against a ball that has little topspin (i.e., unrealistic for a run-of-the-mill baseline exchange); and (2) the baseline player can get winded pretty quickly (resulting in a practice of poor quality). 

To break things up, the net player should not only move around at the net and force the player to guide the ball towards various targets but he should also try to provide the baseline player with some top-spin shots. How does one achieve this from the net? The answer is that the net player can volley into his side of the court first and then, after the ball clears the net, it strikes the court on the baseline player's side of the court as well. That is, imagine a ping-pong serve where the ball must bounce on the server's side of the court first and then on the receiver's side. This action cause the ball to pick up some topsin from the ground which is then translated into a topsin shot on the baseliner's side of the court. With some practice, the net player can master various heights, depths and spins.

In another variant, the baseline player can try to take some of these ping-pong shots out of the air (i.e., before they bounce on his side of the court) or use these shots as put-away shots. In the latter drill, the net player/coach can feed a follow-up volley. It's amazing what can be achieved with some imagination. 


Practice Awkward Shots

In general, professional men are far more skilled on the court than professional women.  No situation seems too foreign and the racket skills are impeccable when called upon to get themselves out of a jam.  Hitting awkward shots from obscure positions in the court is a very real skill.  There can be a wide variety of factors for this, obviously the athleticism and testosterone necessary to propel a unique combination of strength and uncanniness to work together in these rare situations.  But why is it that some players are better at it than others?  Henine, Schiavone, Niculescu for modern day women.  Almost all the men have a high proficiency of caginess, but most notably uncanny are Dolgopolov, Santoro, Tomic, Federer, Djokovic to name a few.  

If some women can do it, but almost all men are cagey with their racket skills- why is that?  One conclusion is men simply practice awkward shots more than women.  Men love to play mini-tennis, practice on the wall, try goofy shots, slice on purpose, try tweeners, dropshots, high backhand volleys, topspin dive volleys, the list goes on.  Dirk Notitzki, the German NBA superstar who led his Dallas Mavericks to the NBA Championship last year adamantly practices weird shots- he makes a point of it.  

"Nowitzki's unusual talent is a rare marriage of athleticism, improvisation and height. His personal shooting coach, Holger Geschwindner, said last week that Nowitzki has had the ability to shoot from one leg since he was 16. Nowitzki practices the shots at least twice a day: once at the end of practice, where teammate Corey Brewer sees Nowitzki go through a whole routine of spin moves and simulated awkwardness, and again around 7 p.m. when teammate Brian Cardinal says he has seen Nowitzki practice an array of wacky shots in every spot on the court." -Wall Street Journal

From a young age, practice being different.  Time is on your side.  Certain coaches can be very limiting in creativity in style, almost being too vanilla and dogmatic.  Sure their is always a place for consistency and discipline, but balance that with creative skills- all areas of the court.  Here is a list of some shots to practice:


  • Touch volleys off any type of passing shot
  • High backhand volleys (angle cc and slow or down-the-line controlled)
  • Slice on the run dink pass
  • Severe defense lob to the moon
  • Kick serves from doubles alley on ad
  • Slice serves from doubles alley on deuce
  • Tweeners
  • Learn to sell the dropshot by changing grip mid-swing
  • Learn to sell the dropshot by moving forward as if approaching
  • Slice forehands
  • Block forehands
  • Volleying from no-mans land
  • Volleying between your legs
  • Serving underhand with sideways slice
  • Using different grips to hit forehands
  • Using different grips to hit serves
  • Using different grips to hit different types of slices and dropshots
  • Hitting balls from 15 ft behind baseline
  • Hitting balls from the doubles alley
  • Screw CCs, can you hit down-the-line off tough balls controlled
  • Slice inside-out spin DTL
  • Changing speeds and heights of ball, switching gears from shot to shot


There are an endless amount of awkward shots to be practiced, so what are you waiting for?  Go make your practices fun and beneficial- but remember, the ball always has to go in the court at the end of the day.  Put in that time.  


Steal This Drill: Razorback Doubles Drill

Thank you, Brad Berry, for submitting the following doubles drill. Brad is currently the Director of Tennis at Rancho La Quinta Country Club. For more help with your doubles game as well as your general tennis game, please feel free to contact Brad directly. 






Steal This Drill: The Rainbow Drill

It is said that great minds think alike. As evidenced by the following drill, the same thing can be said about lesser minds as well (just kidding). The following drill is a collaboration between CAtennis.com, Karl Rosenstock and Roy Coopersmith. As it happened, and out of pure coincidence, the three parties discussed covering the following drill on exactly the same date. 

Here's a little background on our co-conspirators:

Karl Rosenstock: Karl is currently the official tennis X-mo cam videographer for USC Tennis and a Contributing Editor for CAtennis.com where he provides video content and articles. These days, Karl is most well known as the tennis slow mo guy insofar as he provides X-Mo cam high speed videography for tennis coaching and keepsake purposes for college tennis, tennis clubs and tennis tournaments. Karl has been a USPTA tennis teaching professional and professional television producer. He has specialties in producing, multi camera studio production and directing, lighting design and studio and remote camera operation. For more information regarding his services, please contact Karl at 415-794-5250.

Roy Coopersmith: Roy is currently the Tennis Director at Pine Bluff Country Club in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. With a tennis career spanning over 4 decades, Roy has done it all and seen it all. He was an accomplished professional, college, open as well as senior player (#6 in Germany in U40s) and, as a coach, he has had the opportunity to coach an impressive list of players including: Philipp Kohlschreiber, Lisa Raymond, Tom Shimada, Jelena Jankovic, Jamea Jackson, Christian Weiss, Toma Walter, Maja Palaversic,  Christina Singer, Kim Couts, Roko Karanusic, Helena Vildova, Nguyen Hoang (2009 Orange Bowl Champion), Josip Mesin, etc. Currently, however, his main focus is on developing the game of his daughter - Niki Coopersmith. Nevertheless, if going to the next level is your goal, Roy has the technical, tactical, mental and physical expertise to assist you.

Rainbow Drill:

Here, at CAtennis.com, we are huge fans of situational-based practice. We feel that if the players have experienced certain pressure situations in practice they will be able to relax and think more clearly in the heat of battle. In the Rainbow Drill, one of the players starts with his racket on the net chord and the other is on the baseline. The coach (or the baseline player) feeds a deep lob over the net-player. The lob should bounce somewhere close to the baseline (even slightly outside of the lines). The net player chases it down and either hits a baseline overhead or a groundstroke. The baseline player must let this ball bounce and the point starts immediately (i.e., if the net player misses the "feed" he loses the point). This drill is not only a fun variation on the ol' baseline game, but it also teaches the players how to hit overheads from less than optimal positions and, also, how to regain the advantage after having lost it. This is particularly important for juniors and female players bacause they may lack the put-away ability from the net. That is, sometimes players get to the net but fail to capitalize on the situation and are forced to "restart" the point if the opponent comes up with a decent lob. This drill will, hopefully, teach the players that losing the upper hand mid-point is not the end of the world. One can regain the advantage with a well placed shot...a shot that must be practiced and mastered. 


Steal This Drill: Aggressive Doubles

This drill comes to us from Mr. Frercks Hartwig who is currently associated as a tennis coach and player devepoler at TMS - Die mobile Tennisschule in Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany.

Thank you, Mr. Hartwig, for submitting this drill to CAtennis.com. We hope that all of you take the time to incorporate it into your tennis development process. The drill is as follows:

1. Draw a line about 1meter (3ft inside each baseline).

2. While the ball is in play, the doubles-players may not over-step this line.

3. The players are encouraged to take the ball early - either off a half-volley, regular volley or swinging volley.

4. The coach alternates feeds from A to B and points are played up 12. Feeds are to be mixed in terms of height, depth, pace and spin in order to put the receivers in the position to make a variety of adjustments [Editor's Note: there may or might not be "re-dos" for missed feeds; coach's choice depending on the level of the players]

5. Immediately after the feed, both teams proceed to move in and engage in a volley-volley exchange. By being forced to move in, the "volley-shy" players learn that it's more effective to win points at the net than at baseline.

6. This drill can also be performed by either (a) having the A-B team hit a groundstroke first; (b) having the teams sprint in from behind the baseline at the same time or (c) by moving the "artificial" baseline forwards or backwards to take into account the skills of the players.

For a similar singles drill, see here. If you would like to share any drill ideas or practical suggestions for improving the game, please email us at catenniseditor@gmail.com or contact us on Facebook. As always, if you like the information, please pass it along to anyone who may be interested.