| By Chuck Russell

So many times over the years, I have seen a player hit an approach shot, follow it up to net (volley position), and get passed or lobbed by an opponent’s great shot. Most of the time, the player who was passed (and lost
the point) will tell me: “My volley stinks, so I’m staying back!” What I try to point out to these players is that it’s not their volley that needs work … it’s their approach shot! With a better approach shot, your volley will look
a lot better. You’ll be set up for put away shots more often, and not always under pressure when you come up to net.

The approach shot has also been nicknamed: “The Opportunity Ball.” When an opponent hits you a short bouncing ball that brings you forward for you to hit it, the opportunity is there to become offensive and come up to the net after you hit that shot. The problem I described above, specifically being passed when you come up to net, is directly related to what you did with your approach shot. If you just hit it without much thought and then charge up to net, you shouldn’t reasonably expect the situation to change. You’ll still get passed and lose
the points but, if you are willing to try something different, you may get a different result.

Here are just a few different approach shot tactics for you to try:

►Try to notice which of your opponents strokes are weaker (more errors and/or inconsistent), forehand or backhand, and approach to that side;

►Down the closest sideline (classic theory);

►If it’s high-bouncing, you rip (with topspin), if it’s low, you chip (under-spin);

►Low down the center; or

►Hit a drop shot.

These are just a few, but they may work very well for you. Monitor your results during your match, and change to another option if what you are using is repeatedly not working. You also may try to mix and match them in order to keep your opponent off-balance.

Good luck and see you at the net!  

Chuck Russell

<p>Chuck Russell is director of tennis at Long&nbsp;Beach Tennis Center, a PTR national tester,&nbsp;USPTA Pro 1, USTA recreational coach&nbsp;workshop clinician and USTA QuickStart Tennis clinician. He may be reached by&nbsp;phone at (516) 432-6060 or e-mail&nbsp;<a href="mailto:chuck@longbeachtenniscenter.com">chuck@longbeachtenniscenter.com</a>.</p>