Tip of the Week Archive

   Recently I received an email asking me how does one handle high balls. High
bouncing balls are relative. It is not how high the ball is bouncing but where it
bounces is more appropriate. Balls landing near the baseline create a situation
where the player will have to do one of three things.
   First, the player may have the option to back up. Backing up in anticipation of a
deep bouncing  ball will allow the ball to drop to a more comfortable level to play a
regular groundstroke. This will usually happen when the ball is slower and the player
can retreat and still make the shot without falling backwards or leaning back. High
bouncing balls are like all other balls, it’s more a matter of where do you need to
be in order to make contact at a level that you choose.
   Secondly, if the ball is coming too fast to retreat or run back, the player will have to
swing at the ball with a high groundstroke. The best way to do this is to raise your
backswing the level you anticipate making contact with the ball. Raising the
backswing will allow you to swing level (or flat) at the ball. You will still need to turn
your shoulders and take a pretty big swing to get the ball back with any depth
because there is very little upward swing in this shot to help the ball go over. With
practice this can become a comfortable shot and on short high balls can become a
   My third solution and the least favorable, is to hit the ball before the bounce gets too
high. This is called a “short hop� or some people call it a “half-volley�.
Instead of hitting the ball on it’s decent like we normally would do, we are hitting
the ball on the rise before it reaches it’s apex. This is difficult to do because the
timing involved takes a lot of hand-eye and hand-racquet coordination. The best way
to hit a ball on the rise is to take half a backswing and try to contact the ball about a
foot off the ground while it is still low. This shot requires good footwork to get in a
position to make contact at the low level. As with all shots if you practice this short
hop return you will get better with it.
   The high bounce ball offers players a variety of options and makes the game
interesting. Once you have become more comfortable handling the high bounce then
hitting deep, high balls to your opponent is a very good strategy.

Doug Hofer, USPTA      April 10, 2004