Are you making far too many errors when faced with handling the high, short forehand shot? It appears to be an easy shot, but it’s just as easy to mess it up—badly! If this is you, let’s look at some ways you can change the easy high sitter from a flustering prospect to a shot you will approach with confidence.
Shot recognition (of your own and your opponent’s), the lack of a properly-timed split-step, and an improper swing path all contribute to missing the high, short ball that hovers around the service line. Let’s look closer at why these are all important to your success in handling the easy, high, short ball.
ü THE SPLIT-STEP (OR CHANGE OF DIRECTION MOVEMENT)
You just hit a corner-catching serve or a blistering backhand that sends your opponent scrambling to get the ball back. He/she does, but it lands near the service line, just sitting there with no pace on it. Executing a split-step will enable you to get up to the ball quickly, but calmly. It may seem like a lot of work to always make that little jump but without it, you won’t move efficiently or quickly to your next shot. If you’ve ever played or watched basketball, the change of direction movement is what a defensive player does when the dribbler moves in a different direction with the ball.
ü SHOT RECOGNITION
You’ve hit your shot, you’ve made your split-step made your split-step, now you must be alert for clues such as your opponent stretching to reach a shot or backing up behind the baseline to play the ball. When you see this, start moving forward in anticipation of a weak reply from your opponent.
ü IT’S AN APPROACH SHOT, NOT A WINNING SHOT
Many players will swing to contact with a slightly open faced racquet, causing the ball to sail out of the court and into the back fence. That’s because they get excited and rush through the shot, going for an outright winner instead of a setup shot. Think of the sitter as a set up for your volley, not a shot you have to bludgeon for a winner. To make this nice, easy approach off the sitter, there are a couple different of aspects to consider:
- What type of grip are you using?
- Where are you comfortable contacting the ball?
If you are using a Western or Semi-western grip, you are most comfortable contacting the ball at or just above your shoulders. You want to ensure that your elbow remains high and slightly away from your body, and your racquet strings facing the court. This adds stability to the stroke and ensures that the racquet face will be square at contact.
If you’re old school and use an Eastern or Continental grip, you’ll want to let the ball descend and make contact in your optimal strike zone—at your core, the midpoint on the body.
Next, you want to use a windshield-wiper motion across the back of the ball, finishing with your racquet closer to your hip than your shoulder. Why? Because you’re playing a shot from a position closer to your opponent’s baseline. The ball doesn’t have as far to travel; therefore, you must add more spin than you would from the baseline so that the ball comes down into court in time.