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Tennis Tip #4: Handling high bouncing balls

July 27, 2011
Club players all too often play one dimensionally from the back of the court, which also happens to raise the difficulty factor. By attempting to allow every incoming shot, regardless of its trajectory, bounce point, or bounce height, to descend into their preferred low, knee-to-thigh-high power zone they reduce their options dramatically. And, that’s a lot of no reward extra footwork.

In clubland, it’s not unusual for balls to pass over the net with high clearance, or steep, rainbow like trajectories — topspin or no topspin. This is not only physically impractical, but also eliminates possibilities to dictate play.

As you can see in the accompanying image, I have selected a court position that allows me to strike a high bouncing ball at its apex after it has bounced. This cancels the need to back up, which often ends up being well behind the baseline, rendering it impossible to play offensively and simultaneously empowers the opposing netman. Is there anything worse than witnessing a doubles match where two opposing backcourters are pinned back passively trading moonballs they consistently allow to fall into their low zone? No proactivity. Just defense, defense, defense. This is not the way the game was meant to be played.

Playing the ball in front at its high point, versus this powder puff facsimile of multi-dimensional play, will not only take recovery time away from opponents, but also, when these loopy balls land a bit short, predispose you to getting a jump on moving into the net from the resulting closer positions versus always being resigned to playing back.

Feel free to jump up into this shot, triggering a clean, athletic, kinetic chain that dumbs down any mechanical overthinking. Per usual, you’ll still have to finish your racket prep — a little higher than your norm to get behind the ball — by the approaching ball’s bounce point. Don’t think about your stroking path. No need. You already know how — it’s on your hard drive. And yes, the follow through will naturally finish at a lower position compared to your finish after striking those wheelhouse balls when you get them.

So take initiative. Broaden your strike zone. Start taking advantage of these floaters. It’s a lot more fun.

Jak Beardsworth (USPTA) is based at the Crowne Plaza-Lake Placid Club. He can be reached by e-mail at'>, by phone at 941-626-0097, or through his website

Article Photos

Photo courtesy of Shaun Ondak Photography
Jak Beardsworth demonstrates how to handle a high bouncing ball.



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