When you serve, make sure you can get to the net fast. Only about four steps will get you there. Then volley low and down the middle. If you don’t go up to the net, then your opponents will and will have the advantage in the point.
Try changing the direction and speed of your serve in order to always keep your opponent guessing.
- Serve to the backhand side
- Serve to the forehand side
- Serve in the middle
- Try a high looping serve
In each case, note which serve is giving you better results against each opponent, so you can use it when you need the point. Remember that while serving to the side wall can be effective, serving down the middle cuts down the angle of the return.
You are looking for a return that is easy to volley.
MOST EFFECTIVE SHOTS
The safest and most effective shot is low and down the middle. That makes it difficult to volley. Your opponents will have to volley up over the net, which will give you a good chance at another good shot. Also, if the ball gets passed the players at the net, it will stay low after it hits the back wall, making it very hard to hit back.
Playing the ball along the sides is risky and unless you are a pro player chances are you’ll end up hitting the ball against the side mesh.
One of the most underrated shots is the high lob. High and deep lobs force the opponent to move back, allowing your team to take the net.
The lob is not only a defensive shot. If you can hit a good lob that goes over your opponents head, then charge and take the net. That will force the other team to defend, and perhaps try to lob you in an attempt to take over the net themselves. If their lob is short enough that you can hit the overhead, then your team can keep its pressure at the net. If the ball is beyond your reach, then as you run back to get it, listen to your partners instructions. Chances are that the opponents have taken over the net. In this case the most reasonable shot is to lob them.
Lobbing over your opponents left side is most effective, as he will need to run around his left side which may cause him to misjudge his overhead. In addition, if he has no time to hit the overhead, he may be forced to use a backhand smash, which is usually less effective.
Statistically, the team that takes the net wins 80% of the points.
LOB GOING OVER YOUR PARTNER
When your opponent’s lob goes over your partner’s reach, as he runs back to retrieve it he is facing in the direction of the wall. For this reason, at this time he is not aware of what the other team is doing. This is when you need to let your partner know:
- Are they both coming to the net? Say “both up”
- Is only his guy coming to the net? Say “yours up”
- Is only your guy coming to the net? Say “mine up”
Careful when hitting the smash. If you are close to the net when you hit it, then use full power, make sure the ball bounces of the back wall and back into your side of the court.
If you are at the back of the court when hitting the smash, it’s more effective to hit a slower side spin shot to ensure the ball stays low after it bounces off the back wall. If instead you go for power, the ball will come back high to the area of the net and may be an easy put away for the opponents.
Let’s say that your partner has gone behind you to retrieve a lob that went over your head. This is the time you should move to the other side of the court, where your partner was before he went behind you.
- Say “switch”
This lets your partner know that you will cover his place and that he can stay there to cover yours.
THE AUSTRALIAN FORMATION
This formation is used by the serving team. The player not serving moves up the net on his side and stays on his side for the remainder of the serve game.
All advanced teams use this formation. The Australian formation is used is because many advanced players have mastered their play for one side of the court. They are used to all the various game patterns related to the position the always play, and they are the strongest playing there. To a lesser extent, if you have played most of the game on the left side, supposedly you are more used to play on the left side, so it makes sense that you would be more effective if you stayed there.
To play the Australian formation, when your partner is serving, just move up to the net while staying on your side right through the serving game.
COMMUNICATE WITH YOUR PARTNER
Always talk to your partner. Encourage him when he makes a good shot, and also when he fails. Don’t leave him to dwell over his mistakes, that will only make things worse for your team.
LET YOUR PARTNER KNOW WHO IS GOING TO TAKE THE SHOT
Whenever you are facing a lob or a shot down the middle, then let your partner know as soon as possible if your are taking it or if he is. Therefore, the first one to notify the other determines who takes the shot. Just one thing, never change your mind.