How many times have you experienced the awful feeling of trying to catch up to your opponent’s shot when it flies from front wall to back wall and zips by you toward to front wall again? This should be a time when you’re thinking, “Automatic point for me!”, rather than worrying about what to do and what shot to make as you chase the ball down. You may even be sensing that you are totally out of position for the next shot. Here are a few tips to get you started in the right direction.
A missed ceiling shot is most often the cause for the above situation for most experienced players. For beginners and some intermediates, it’s just an errant shot that flies too high in the court. If your opponent hits a ball that is obviously going to fly directly from the front to the back wall without bouncing, you should:
- Take off at top speed to the “top” of the service box.
- Pause and turn sideways to locate the ball as it comes toward front court.
- Set yourself for either a forehand or a backhand shot.
- Let the ball continue to come forward until it falls to a height at your knees or lower, if you can.
- Let the ball come to the front of your stance: pulling it forward from behind you makes you lose control of the shot.
- If you don’t have a sense of where your opponent is, don’t start trying to locate him/her now. If you take your concentration and eyes away from the ball, you’ll surely miss your shot.
- Shoot one of two shots: 1. Directly into the front wall, in front of your body, so that the shot “kills” as low as possible and heads down the wall to the back corner. Or 2. “Pinch” the shot into the side wall so that it rolls around the front corner of the court, as low as possible. Both of these should produce an end to the rally as long as you WAIT until the ball is only a foot or two (depending on your abilities) up from the floor when you take your shot.
- Avoid shooting crosscourt as much as you can!!! Hitting away from yourself usually means you’re hitting to your opponent and you will be out of position to retrieve the next ball.
You can go into a court and set yourself up with these “fliers” in order to practice your return. If you practice the return over and over, that feeling of panic should leave you in an actual game situation, and you’ll begin to think “Automatic point for me!”