Approach Shot in Tennis
Approach Shot (noun) [uh–prohch shot]
In this article, we’ll cover what an approach shot is in tennis, along with examples and common issues players experience.
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Questions & Answers
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Definition of the Approach Shot
An offensive shot that allows a tennis player to transition from the baseline to the net, hitting a forehand or a backhand. Also referred to as an approach.
Examples of Approach Shot in a Sentence
She didn’t do enough with that approach shot, so her opponent easily passed her for a winner down the line.
If you don’t keep the ball deep in the court, your opponent is going to move forward and hit an approach shot, putting you on the defense.
Context for the Approach Shot
The approach shot is an offensive tennis shot that players hit so that they can transition up to the net to try and close out the point.
Typically, a player hits this shot when they receive a short ball that lands closer to the service line than the baseline. Ideally, this short ball sits up high enough to allow them to swing confidently to place the ball deep in the court and force their opponent to hit a defensive shot, which can then be put away with a volley or two.
A player can hit an approach shot as a winner, but it’s frequently used a setup shot in that the player isn’t looking to win the point on this shot. Instead, they’re attempting to force a defensive ball from their opponent, which subsequently can be put away with a volley to win the point.
Here are a few common problems that occur with approach shots.
Approaching Too Soon
Many players attempt to hit an approach off a ball that was hit too well by their opponent. Approaching too soon often occurs because a player is overly eager.
For example, consider a point where your opponent hits a clean groundstroke that lands relatively deep in the court. If you try to move forward and hit an approach shot, then you may not be able to transition to the net quickly enough. The result can open up a variety of angles for your opponent to pass you easily.
Closing Too Far
Overly eager players may execute a great approach shot but subsequently close the net too far, which makes them an easy target for their opponent to lob them. It’s a delicate balance. You don’t want to move forward too far because of the lob, but if you don’t close enough, you’re going to open yourself up to a passing shot.
Not Doing Enough with the Approach
When you move in for an approach shot, it’s important to strike the ball with confidence – and ideally, keep the ball deep in the court. That’s one of the reasons why you don’t want to approach too soon. Instead, wait for an ideal ball that allows you to move forward with an aggressive shot that forces your opponent to play defense and sets up your volley.
Ball Toss Forehands & Backhands
Next, we’ll take the simple forehands and backhands drill, and add a ball toss, which will force your student to start judging ball speed, move their feet a little and focus on their timing. It will also begin to simulate the feeling of playing tennis by putting you and your students on opposite sides of the net.
With your basket of balls, head to one side of the court and stand on the center service line 2 to 3 feet from the net. Have your students stand at the center of the service line, ready for a forehand or backhand.
In this variation, you’ll gently toss a tennis ball toward the player so that it bounces in front of them about waist high. For you, this may feel like the same drill as the last. However, there is a critical difference for the player.
Where in the last drill the ball was barely moving and simply bouncing in front of the player, this drill forces the player to judge the speed of the ball and slowly adjust their footing to help ensure they can make contact with the tennis ball.
Common Questions & Answers About the Approach Shot
Where should an approach shot be placed in tennis?
An approach shot should be hit deep in the court to prevent opening up angles for your opponent to pass you. Beyond that, your placement of an approach shot will depend on each point to keep your opponent on defense.
Have any questions about hitting an approach shot? Let us know in the comments below – we’re happy to help.
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