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Attack! (The Short Ball)

Being agressive on the court doesn’t always mean hitting the ball hard, it means hitting the ball smart to pressure your opponent.   To be aggressive and control the point you have to be able to confidently attack the first short ball your opponent hits to you.

The best way to gain confidence in this shot is practice, practice, practice.

You need to be ready to attack that first ball that falls short on your side of the court.  Not the second or third but the first.  I find a lot of tennis players miss that first opportunity.  I don’t know if they don’t see it coming or they are hesitant to move in and take the shot.  My guess is that it is the latter, since most people have a fear of coming in.  But you cannot miss this opportunity because you don’t know when or if you will get it again.

How do we master the short ball?

Step 1 Be alert and ready for the short ball.

Step 2.  Be explosive with your first two steps moving forward.

Step 3. Take it on the rise.

Step 4. Keep your weight forward.  (It is imperative that you keep your momentum forward while at the same time you do want to run through your shot.)

Practice attacking the short ball in your lessons or clinics.  Everyone does the three ball drill, with baseline, mid-court, and overhead.  This is a good drill to help you master the technical aspect of the shot and increase your confidence in making the shot, but does nothing for the anticipation of the short ball.  It is the moment of hesitation in coming in for the ball that will cost you the point.  So a better drill is to play out points so you can learn to explode toward the ball when you see the short ball coming.  Everytime you do not attack the short ball you have to run a wind sprint.  Notice I am not saying to run if your ball goes into the net or long, just if you fail to go after the short ball.  This starts the process of learning to anticipate.

Teaching Tennis.com distinguishes between the advanced player, intermediate player and beginning player by the ability to attack the short ball.  An advanced player will attack the net at every opportunity, the intermediate player hesitates or waits too long and often misses the opportunity to attack, and the average player doesn’t anticipate and hits his/her ball short and allows their opponent to attack their ball.

The difference between being good and being great is the ability to anticipate and attack without hesitation.

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