Tip of the Week Archive

   Andre Agassi popularized a new and aggressive way to play tennis. He
would stand close to the baseline and hit most balls as they rose from the
bounce. We now call this “hitting on the rise�. The traditional method
to hit groundstrokes was to let the ball bounce, reach it’s peak then strike
the ball as it descended towards the ground. But Agassi’s incredible
timing allowed him to hit the ball earlier than most players. This allowed Andre
to move closer to the baseline which gives a player more angle to return the
ball. It also creates a timing problem for his opponents by giving them less
time before the ball returned to them.
   To utilize this ability to hit on the rise one must have a proper
understanding of the stroke. The first thing needed is the eastern or western
grip. A grip which places more of the palm behind the handle. This allows a
player to have a higher contact point since most balls hit on the rise are
above the waist. The grip also allows for better topspin and a slightly closed
racquet face, which is necessary to accomplish hitting balls on the rise.
   The concept is the type of swing taken at the ball. A slight topspin swing of
low to high direction is best. However, it is important that the backswing is just
slightly below the height of the ball. Too much topspin when hitting on the rise
creates very little pace, so  the best swing will seem to be almost flat or
   The last phase of learning to hit on the rise is practice. Try to rally with
someone and try not to move back on deep, high bouncing balls. Instead,
move forward and start your swing earlier than normal. Practice hitting most
balls before they reach the peak of their bounce. To do this requires a great
deal of footwork and movement, so don’t be lazy. There is no substitute
for practice, hitting on the rise requires great timing. Your timing of when to
swing, how fast to swing, how big a swing, all comes from practice. The more
you practice the better your timing becomes. So practice, practice, practice!

Doug Hofer, USPTA                                               August 11, 2004