I love volleys. Volleys are my favourite shot. But it wasn't always like that. When I was young [[enter insulting ageist joke here]] I would be playing doubles and I would dutifully stand at the net when my partner was serving hoping against hope that the ball wouldn't come my way. Then one day it happened - receiver miscued a return and there was the ball looming large and coming in my direction. AAHH! Nightmare!! So I stuck my racket out and hit a perfect volley between the opponents for a winner. 'Hold on' I thought 'I meant to do that.' As ever since then instead of cowering at the net when my partner serves I will be looking to get involved in the point. As the pictures show, move forward to meet the ball in front with your racket head up. Keep practising and learn to love 'em.
Anyone seen an octopus falling out of a tree? I have. Well I haven’t actually but I’ve seen the next best thing. It was when one of our players decided it was time to come to the net and finish the point. Arms and legs flailing in all directions – here comes the ball – KERPOW. Everyone ducked for cover. Now there is nothing wrong with coming to the net but it needs to be done in an orderly manner. Get forward swiftly and under control. Make sure you steady yourself in a good ready position before your opponent hits the ball. That way you will be able to make a better volley and hopefully finish the point.
The second most common question I am asked is ‘what size racquet should I buy for my child’. (The most common question is ‘Wot, you STILL ‘ere?). Racquets come in various sizes usually measured in inches if you are in the UK. The junior sizes are 19, 21, 23, 25, 26 inches with 27 inch being adult size. To get the right size get your child to hold a racquet straight down by his/her side. The top of the racquet should be 1 inch above the ground. Make sure your child is perfectly upright because some of the little horrors will do a good impression of the leaning tower of Piza if they think they want a bigger racquet.
Over the years I have seen many different serves. What I find extraordinary is the amount of unnecessary movement people put into their serves before and during the action. I have seen players rocking their arms back and forth like they are sawing wood, pointing their racket up to the sky as if they are duck shooting or even doing the hokey cokey before they serve – left foot in, left foot out, in, out, in, out, shake it all about – SERVE. The serve is actually quite simple – throw the ball up and hit it. Cut out any unnecessary movement and see your serve improve
Anyone remember the old Batman TV series? Kiddies if you don’t know what I’m talking about then look it up on Face Tube. During each episode there would be a dust up between Batman and his adversaries such as the Joker and the Penguin. When Batman landed a knuckle sandwich on the bad guy a caption would come up - ‘WALLOP!’, ‘BIFF!’, ‘SPLAT!’. This is a bit like watching some players warm up in for a tennis match. Straight on court and ‘POW!’, 'BANG!'. Before the match starts, warm up slowly, in the service boxes if necessary with a shortened swing and exaggerate watching the ball onto your racket. Then you can move back and don't forget to practice every shot - including 1st and 2nd serves. It will help. Ah they don’t make telly like that any more – thank goodness.
It is very important to be patient when you are trading on a tennis court. ‘TRADING?!’ I hear you cry. ‘It’s bad enough trying to win the point without having to negotiate the price of a barrel of crude oil at the same time’. Well actually ‘trading’ is the modern parlance for the phase in a point where neither player is on top. So don’t try and force the issue – be patient and wait for your opportunity to present itself.
Years ago when I had a proper job there was a poster in the office of a little boy on a potty with the caption ‘The job is never complete until the paperwork has been done’. This can be related to tennis – believe it or not. So many players hit a shot and think that is the end of it – no it isn’t. You need to recover to your correct position and get ready for the next shot. The shot is never finished until you have done this. Because yes - believe it or not – the ball might just come back!