How to Finish at the Net
So you’ve patiently worked the point with some deep ground strokes and moved your opponent enough to extract a short ball in the middle of the court. You manage to hit an aggressive forehand approach down the line to her backhand corner without over hitting and missing it, and now it’s time to reap the benefits of all your hard work. So how do you end the point like a champ rather than blow yet another golden opportunity up at the net?
The Golf Affectbrings you Tiz's Tips. Learn key tips from one of the areas most recognized golf coaches. Dennis Tiziani played on the PGA Tour for three years and remains one of Wisconsin's premier players. He was head coach to the UW-Madison Men's Golf Team for 26 years, and the Women's Golf Team for 14 years.
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Common Weaknesses in Opponents
No matter how good your opponent is, he/she has a few weaknesses that can be exploited by a smart opponent with all the tools. Here’s a list of the most common weaknesses you’ll see across the net. Your challenge is to determine what skills your opponent lacks in each particular match and to constantly work in practice to develop the shots needed to exploit them.
1. Consistency – Can they sustain a six-ball rally, i.e. can they hit three balls in the court? Why take any risk with your shots if they can’t?
2. Up and back movement – Many players move well laterally, but they struggle to move up to short balls and back for high, deep balls, either because they have poor depth perception or they’re a bit lazy. Players who don’t move forward for short balls probably aren’t in a hurry to get to the net either, so short angles and drop shots will give them trouble.
3. Second serve – The second serve is often the shortest ball you’ll receive from your opponent for the whole point. If they don’t hit it with any spin, then they’re not going to be able to hit it with pace and consistency. Step up and crack it deep in the court and consider following it to the net. Mix in an occasional drop shot and you’ll really confuse them.
4. Low backhand – Many two-handers struggle with this shot because they aren’t comfortable slicing the ball. They will frequently hit a weak defensive shot, opening the door for you to attack the next shot and go to the net.
Remember, if you don’t have the shots to exploit these shortcomings, you can’t take advantage of them. For example, it’s tough to give someone a low backhand if you can’t slice your backhand, and it’s tough to hit a high, deep defensive lob with a semi-western forehand grip. Take time in practice to work on these specific shots. You need to be able to play the whole game in order to beat more people.
- Tom Chorney, Tennis Professional
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The secret lies in your movement and the size of your backswing. Although most club players don’t detect this when watching great players on tv, the answer is to maximize the number of quick little steps you take both before and after gaining your balance with a split step as your opponent’s racquet starts to move forward. This movement will get you to the ball earlier and closer to the net, which is the key because it:
Having attacked properly with your legs, your position advantage – not power, but POSITION advantage – near the net will allow you to use a small backswing on your volley. This makes it easier to contact the ball in front of you and in the center of the string bed, with the goal of “deflecting" the ball at the proper angle into the open court. The sharper the angle you attempt to hit, the less power you will want, since the sideline becomes shorter. You also don’t NEED much power when angling the ball away from your opponent properly. Think of it as though you’re holding a mirror in front of you and turning it to reflect your opponent’s flashlight to the opposite side of the court. Would you swing the mirror?
- Tom Chorney, Tennis Professional
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