The Tennis Two Step

This is a follow-up tennis tip on HOW to make yourself more aggressive at the net and put away more volleys.

Several years ago, Tennis Magazine ran a piece by the Woodies, the great Australian doubles team on how to be more aggressive in doubles. One of their tips on return of serve was:

• Start your return of serve stance a couple of feet back from where you normally do,
• But NOT flat-footed with your feet spread shoulder width apart; rather, on your toes and with your left foot forward (for righties),
• Then as your opponent was in his service motion, bring the other foot forward, as if you were doing the split step coming in to the net
• And to time this so your body weight was going forward as you struck your return of serve.

I have been doing that for years; and it has really helped my return of serve. Well last night playing doubles, it dawned on me to try it while I was at the net and my partner was serving and returning serve.

Same process: start a step back from normal and make that little split-step going forward. It really helped make me more aggressive, get my body weight going forward, and hit crisper winning volleys.

Try it on both the return and the volley.

4 thoughts on “The Tennis Two Step

  1. i do this, unfortunately not all the time.

    Joe – and you are one of the best net players i know! geo

  2. Hmm, I”ll try that today in my first round, 4.5 mixed doubles match at the Colorado State Open. One take-away that I had at the 60 Nationals in Seattle last month is that one needs to stick those volleys. At that level, (5.0?) those guys eat you up if you let them set up for a ball! I think this might be the tip I needed to hear!

    Mike – great. let me know if it works for you. geo

  3. Yup; it takes work but we should do it all the time, whether we’re ‘going’ or not. Good advice, especially when partner is serving. Tougher when partner is returning since you don’t know where he going/what his options are (or aren’t).

    Kevin – Ok, let’s work on it at Newk’s (but NOT against each other)! geo

  4. This is great advice. Years ago, before I had even heard of the Woodies (maybe 1981?) a local tennis pro spent hours with me over several weeks focusing on the return of serve. He had me shorten my backswing considerably (a vestige that I still now have, as an ingrained habit, even on regular groundstrokes — sometimes to my chagrin) and to time the return to move forward at precisely the moment the ball hits the ground in the service court. The idea was to catch the ball as it is rising and just as it enters your strike zone, with your body weight moving forward to attack the ball. Then you basically just block the serve back. The pro also showed me how this simple maneuver can put more than enough pace on the ball to set up the return as an aggressive stroke, likely harder for the server to get back to me than the serve was for me to return to him because the server is not expecting it. The only other thing that I recall worth mentioning is the pro advised to think ahead as to where I wanted the return to be going, in other words its placement, in much the same manner that, when serving, one is also thinking about where to serve the ball to. Admittedly, this does not always work because sometimes the serve to your backhand that you thought was coming goes, in fact, to your forehand and you have to adjust at the last millisecond. However, as a general thought, the pro advised me that it is better to have a game plan and a distinct location that you INTEND the return to go to than to just be reactive and wing it. Of all the matches that I have played well in my life since then, I have to say that using this technique on returns of serve was definitely a big reason for my good play. Conversely, of all the stinky/ bad matches that I have played, I am quite sure it was because I did not pay enough attention to the return of serve in this manner and the dividends that it can pay. Even when I am not serving well (which is, unfortunately, quite often) I can often keep myself in the match, and occasionally even win, by simply using this technique to break my opponent(s) more often than my own serve is broken.

    Marty – great advice on having ‘a plan’ on the return of serve. see you in TX! geo

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