Where to aim?

You’re playing a competitive doubles match and you’re at the net looking at a high floater for a “put-away” forehand volley. Both of your opponents are at the net, just inside their service lines. Where should you aim your volley?

If you think about where your opponents are standing and tell yourself to “hit away from them,” according to Pelican Bay pro Joe Bartos, you’re giving your brain a mixed message. He believes that is like telling yourself, “don’t double fault” and you do.

Here are three opinions on what you should think/do:

• Joe Bartos – Aim for your right-handed opponent’s right foot, which is the most difficult spot to reflex volley back from.

• Pete Minarich, Pelican Marsh pro – “Aim for one of the three T’s … the center T, or where the deuce court service line intersects with the singles line, or where the ad court service line intersects with the singles line.

• Spike Gonzales, Wilderness Country Club pro – Recommends practices using plastic cones as targets; and then during the match, aim for the imaginary targets.

In other words, don’t tell yourself NOT to do something; rather, give yourself positive direction on what TO do.

If you are not on my “new posting alert email list” and want to be (I promise, no other uses of your email address!), just drop me a note at George@seniortennisandfitness.com

4 thoughts on “Where to aim?

  1. I would add that it also depends on who you are and what you’re best at. Some players I know are really good at placing the ball in the alley closest to you. It’s either a winner or will get a weak return. I personally, if it ‘s the right height, like to hit it hard enough that even if my opponent gets a racket on it, it will sail out. That’s getting harder to do as we get older. The main thing is to keep it low so they can’t hit a very offensive shot unless you hit it soft enough that they can hit a lob volley, always a good shot if well executed.

  2. once again, it’s all about getting in the right position. if you do that, you can almost
    hit the ball hard anywhere you want. as we get older, that’s not the easiest thing to do. i usually try to hit the ball hard at my opponent’s feet.

  3. At the risk of being a contrarian (what else is new, right?), I think this issue may be over thought. In doubles, I just rely on instinct. I never want to think about something like this in advance and I am quite sure in the millisecond of time needed to reflex a volley that I wouldn’t have time to remember what I had planned to do anyway. I follow the “hit it where they ain’t” rule. Sometimes that means I will aim at one of the T’s, sometimes it means I will aim for the closest alley, sometimes it means I will hit an extreme angle to the opposite alley (especially if the ball is hit high and away from me, either to my righty forehand in the deuce court or to my righty backhand in the ad court), sometimes I will simply aim right up the middle, and sometimes I will go right at an opponent’s body — especially aiming at a righty’s right hip or a lefty’s left hip.
    In this last situation, Tony Roche once told me at Fantasy Camp that hitting at the right hip is the absolute best spot to hit a volley to a righty player, and he proved it to me in 2 or 3 fantasy matches that I played with him across the net when he consistently did this and hit winner after winner against me. (Yes, I know it was Rochie, a world class player and one of the best volleyers in the history of the sport, but he also insisted that any reasonably adept player could do the same thing and, in my experience with my own game, he was 100% correct. I now use this volley myself whenever I can.) However, with all due respect to Joe Bartos, I am a righty and I can recall probably thousands of times over the years when opponents have tried to hit low volleys in the vicinity of my right foot and I have been able to reflex back responsive volleys, sometimes even half volleys. But as I mentioned above, when Rochie did it to me at Tennis Fantasy Camp and on the rare occasions when other players have thought to hit volleys at me to the same spot, I cannot recall a single instance in all of the years I have played tennis that I was able to successfully reflex back a volley from my right hip. So, personally speaking only, I am not sure I agree that hitting a ball at a righty’s right foot is a very good strategy, especially against a strong volleyer who is an opponent.

  4. Just hit it hard at the opponents feet. Not many even pro’s will return it.

Comments are closed.