The second in our series of Tactics. Again, like the previous tactic of a straight drive followed by a straight volley drop, the best tactics are simple.
Here we look at playing a straight volley drop and looking for the follow up volley.
This is more commonly done using a straight backhand volley drop, then looking to cut out your opponent’s loose cross-court, by pouncing on the forehand volley and punching the ball into the empty space.
We begin by taking the ball in short with a straight volley drop. All you need to do is keep the ball tight, it does not need to be a millimetre above the tin. If the ball is tight your opponent is forced to scrape the ball upwards – a player cannot hit down on a tight shot against the side wall. After your opponent has hit the ball up, this gives you the perfect chance to volley the next shot. Generally people try to hit cross-court from the front, especially at club level. Look to cut their shot out by volleying the ball. All you need to do is punch the ball into the open space, running away into the back corner. An easy winner!
Positioning: After playing your volley drop you need to move toward the ‘T’ and stay on, or even slightly in front, of the mid-court line. You do not want to retreat to behind the ‘T’, as I see so often at club level. If you stay forward you are narrowing the angle of your opponent’s cross-court, much as a goalkeeper in football would do by coming closer to an on-rushing attacker. Yes, you take reaction time away from yourself but the pay-off is far greater by narrowing the angle. You will in turn take your volley out of the air earlier, therefore taking even more time away from your opponent, making it impossible for them to recover your volley.
Your follow up volley: All you need to do here is to make sure you avoid the side wall and not to over hit your shot. If your volley is hit into the side wall, the ball will come back out into the middle of the court, giving your opponent a chance to recover. Likewise, if you over hit your volley and it balloons off the back wall, the ball will come back toward the centre line, again giving your opponent a chance.
The ideal volley is to bounce twice just before the back wall, slightly away and running parallel to the side wall. This is impossible to return as your opponent will be stuck in the front corner.
Amr Shabana was awesome at this tactic, created by a tight volley drop and a good follow up ‘T’ position.
LESSON – BACKHAND STRAIGHT DROP THEN POUNCE ON THEIR CROSS-COURT WITH A SIMPLE STRAIGHT VOLLEY PUNCH INTO THE OPEN SPACE