Aim: Recognise and transition from baseline to volley position.
Description: Have players line up behind the baseline with the first player on the centre mark. Feed the player a mix of deep forehands and backhands that bounced just in front of the baseline. Have the player return these feeds and side-step back to the centre mark after each shot. After several feeds (judge this based on player numbers and waiting time) feed a shorter ball around the service line. The player returns this shorter ball and continues the movement up to the net to receive and forehand volley, backhand volley, and smash. Once the smash is complete the player returns to the back of the line or if there are more than 6 players, instruct them to pick up 5 balls before returning to the back of the line. This ensures the players are not stationary for too long.
Tip: As players often know the short ball is coming they tend to try and cheat and creep forward. Emphasise that players must return to the centre mark after even baseline shot. This replicates game like situations where players do not know if or when a short ball will be hit. Sometimes setting up a cone behind the centre mark and instructing players to circle side-step around it works well.
- Ensure players use the short ball to their advantage. As players are moving forward they can generate more power. As players are closer to the net they have increased angles and trajectories to direct the ball. In a match situation, these balls should be used to win points.
- Ensure players follow the approach shot to the net. It is much easier to move forward than backwards and it places increased pressure on opponents.
- Ensure player split-step between both ground-strokes and volleys. As the direction of the feeds is unknown it is important for the players to remain balanced and to be able to change directions quickly. The image below shows the split step in action.
Optimum Tennis. (n.d.). Roger Federer’s Footwork. Retrieved from http://www.optimumtennis.net/tennis-footwork-drills-for-speed.htm