In this month’s Tennis Tips guest post, coach Marcin Bieniek, founder of Enjoy Tennis Blog, explains how to hit a stop volley for best results.
All tennis players love to hit spectacular winners. Sometimes they hit them consciously because they have world-class technique, while other times it can be the result of pure luck. Beautiful shots give only one point, just as any other winner, but they can significantly boost self-confidence and make a player maintain high-quality performance for a long time. One of those good-looking shots that trigger a big applause is a stop volley.
In modern game there are generally more baseline points than rallies at the net. Players tend to hit powerful forehands and backhands and they are able to keep the ball close to the baseline, so it is more difficult to come to the net these days. However, when playing at lower level or while using every short ball as an opportunity to move forward, players can still get to the net and put pressure on the opponent with different types of volleys. Stop volley included.
Talking about the net game, it is important to understand what we can achieve in this specific area of the court. Net game provides opportunity to shorten reaction time for the opponent, to hit with different angles and also to control the ball directly out of the air. However, we have to remember that there is also the risk of being passed or missing the ball because of difficulty to control the ball out of the air.
If executed well, stop volley is one of the shots that can create a ball that the opponent won’t have a chance to get to. It means that training this ability from the technical point of view will bring many positive effects both for individual and team performance. Additionally, players have to develop proper tactical skills because even a great quality shot will result in a lost point if played at the wrong time.
If you want to use stop volley in your favor, do the following things:
Put opponent behind the baseline
Most of the time you will hit a stop volley as your second volley. It means that your first volley can prepare the situation to hit a winner at the next attempt. Proper strategy has to include the distance for the opponent to run. If the opponent is close to the place where you hit a stop volley, there is a big chance that they will get to the ball. On the other hand, if you put the opponent behind the baseline with your first volley, you make the distance for the run much bigger, so it immediately creates a much more difficult situation for the opponent to deal with.
Be close to the net
A lot of players try to hit a stop volley while being on the service line or even behind this line. That is not the smartest decision. There are two factors that confirm that being close to the net makes the best chance to hit a successful stop volley. Firstly, when you are closer to the net, you are also closer to your target. It is much easier to control effectiveness of your shots when the distance to the target is smaller. Secondly, the closer you are to your target, the shorter will the ball be in the air. It will significantly reduce your opponent’s time for getting to the ball, so you can be sure that many of these balls will end up as winners.
Hit the ball up with backspin
A good-quality stop volley should bounce close to the net, but this can be achieved only when there is a proper trajectory in the shot. A typical mistake that many players make is that they try to hit a stop volley really low over the net. It is not effective. Firstly, we increase the risk of hitting the ball into the net, and secondly, after the bounce, the ball will get closer to the opponent. By hitting the ball up with backspin, we are able to make the ball bounce close to the net and also make the ball stay in the same area for the next bounce.
Hitting a good stop volley is a demanding ability. A lot of technical and tactical work has to be done to use this option effectively during the most important points in the match. To implement a stop volley into your game, you need repetition, so you have to include specific drills in daily practice sessions to become a more dangerous net game player. This shot is not used really often, but sometimes one ball can decide the score of the match.
Visit our Tennis Tips page for a lot more articles by tennis coaches. There you can learn how to improve specific shots and skills, handle pressure, adapt your game to all surfaces and weather conditions, choose the best tennis racquet, and much more.