What’s The Right Shot? Episode #42 – The Answer

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Here’s the answer segment video to this episode of “What’s The Right Shot?”.

It’s not just the specific transitional shot that’s played, it’s how the server ‘waits’ for the right time to play it …

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Comments

  1. going to toot my horn here, being not a doubles player I am surprised I got this spot on

    as I said, the server is on his back foot both players are covering the net and committing, moving forward, the net is covered, nothing neutral to go for in his awkward half volley position, (which he did not hit btw, he hit an off balance groundy)

    I don’t think he as much “put on the brakes” as was stopped and pushed back, and in desperation mode

    his answer isn’t neutral, it’s an aggressive go for something or lose the point answer to the return, and that is the right choice in his position and the opponents great net coverage, anything else gives the opponent the advantage.

    sometimes the low percentage shot is the high percentage answer.(!)

    you miss more then you hit, but you win more points then you lose,counter intuitive but it works out if calculated correctly

    having an answer that is “high percentage” but gives the advantag and probably the point to the opponent, vs a “low percentage” choice that gives the advantage to your team, but you miss more then you make, a fine line and most people go for the winner when they had no reason to, this player had a great reason to go for the low percentage winner

    • I would like to add, I was reluctant to post the principle “sometimes the low percentage shot is the high parentage choice” not really winning more points then you lose but losing fewer points over all

      if the high percentage shot that I make every time, loses 9 out of ten points, vs a low percentage shot that I make 3 out of ten but win those 3 out of ten, that is the shot

      but that’s not a principle to coach until someone has reached a level where their opponents will close out points giving the oportunity

      so I am rue to post the principle, feel free to delete the post brent if you think it’s not good info to have on the board

      • Pman.

        Unless you’re acting like an asshole here at WebTennis, I respect all opinions whether you agree with me or not.

        It’s be pretty darn boring if every Comment gushed over my opinion.

        You are certainly not in that a-hole category Pman ;-)

        Brent

    • Hi Pman.

      You’re right about looking at the big picture of an overall match.

      What Larry did on this point with the lob, win or lose this individual point, it can help him set up future points.

      Lots of times we lose points with low percentage shots like this one, but an opponent might consider in a future point that you might try it again.

      Now your shot selection can be much more high percentage …

      Brent

  2. Kevin B says:

    Amazing shot. That’s actually a *topspin* lob, played with a continental grip. Talk about “high level” stuff. I’m thinking that the precision required to pull that off might require a bit of practice time. :-) Love it!

    • I think it was more luck the precision, he was way off balance, certainly not in position to convert a half volley into a groundy, I see this as desperation as anything else loses the point, the right choice but more luck then skill it did the trick this time

      • Kevin B says:

        Then I shall agree to disagree. Mr. Loeb is a *very* high level player. I’d also bet that he had several other options in his bag of tricks for that situation that he could have used for making life difficult for his opponents. :-)

        • Pman. Kevin is correct about the skill level of Larry Loeb.

          I’m sure this was not a one time event for Larry.

          That said, your comments above are spot on with there are times when a low percentage shot is possibly all that’s available to you in that moment …

          Brent

    • I thought you might like this video Kevin !

      Brent

      • Kevin B says:

        When the crowd goes wild, you know all that homework has paid off. :-) Sometimes, with all that practice, you find that some of the seemingly “high risk” plays turn out to have been not all that risky. . .

        And, I also get pman’s point. Some of my most aggravating opponents will play only low risk shots until they’re put into a corner with nothing to lose – and then pull off the risky shot. I *hate* it when my best approach shots are taken out of the air with a lunge volley and hit for a winner. :-)

        • KB – in the end though, the top players go high percentage when the chips are down.

          They will show just enough low percentage so that their opponents have to account for the possibility when it gets down to crunch time …

          Brent

  3. Sweet shot, but seems high risk to me…had to hit a perfect lob or else big trouble for his partner facing a smash right at him, or a lost point from the ball landing long.

    • Hi Margie. It is a high risk shot in terms of trying to hit an all out winner.

      But I’m pretty sure Larry never thought he had to play a winner, in fact, he’s most likely just trying to play a deep lob that would make for a tough overhead.

      Brent

  4. The proof is in the pudding — he got that ball down in the corner, so it was absolutely the ‘right shot’. I love the way he disguised it by keeping his racket in a neutral preparation, drawing the (poor) returner in one more step. I have seen video of J Henin practicing that stroke technique, and I can tell you, it is harder than it looks, at least for me. And on the other side, this is a reminder to make that little check step on time when coming in and to watch the racket — weight coming forward + ball going up = “Oh, oh.”

    • Hi Robert.

      You’re right about how Larry prepped his racket in a way that it gave him options.

      He finally chose to hold that set up position just a hair longer than the returner thought he would, and then by waiting, Larry drew the returner in a step closer as a way to better open up the lob.

      Brent

  5. Joel Drucker says:

    Very impressive. Darn well better practice that sucker. Also curious to know what the score was. At 40-15 or 30-love options a bit more flexible, eh? What a fine half-volley; and indeed, if we servers stop just for a moment, no need to rush.

    • Eric carlson says:

      i agree…need to practice that today! The key to that shot is his fantastic follow through!
      Great shot.

      • Hey Eric.

        The follow through is a bit awkward looking to me, but you know what, we all have our own different stroke technique nuances that produce the same result.

        Find yours ;-)

        Brent

    • You’re right Joel.

      Take your time which creates options in tough situations.

      Brent

  6. Major Dan says:

    I agree with much of what pman says above. Putting on the brakes and having a continental grip for the half-volley gives the server a few options – the topspiin lob that he hit not only won the point, but in future situations will slow the charge of the returners. Maybe later he could flick a soft topspin dipper at the opposing netman’s feet or through the middle pretty much off the same setup.
    Or maybe that already happened earlier in the match and that is why the return team closed so aggressively this time :).
    Either way, one sets up the other.
    Seems like there is also a third option: because the server gave himself time – he can watch and see if the netman commits to the middle. If he does, then the line is wide open – a third option if it materializes. And he can wait even longer in that case and play the ball later to the off-angle.

    take what the opponents give you!!!

    • With regard to your “in future situations will slow the charge of the returners” :- If I was the returner I would assume that this shot was a 1-in-20 freak and it would not deter me from closing next time. I would assume that he’d miss it next time. If he did it twice I’d challenge him to do it a third time. If he did it a third time I’d hang back a bit. If you respond cautiously to every good shot your opponent plays you’ll be chasing your tail for the whole match.
      But your point about what has already happened is good. As is Joel Drucker’s question about the score at that moment.

    • Hi Major Dan.

      The best point you make is how all of this can set up future points.

      Brent

      • Major Dan says:

        Playing some doubles last night and wouldn’t you know it, the situation came up. I pulled up to take the ball off the bounce, decided to go for the topspin to the T, but got all excited and netted the ball @#$&*^@#$& :(
        But the important thing is that, thanks to this thread, I ‘saw’ the situation and tried to work one of the plays off of it !
        I think in the future, I will get more chances and hopefully over time build a repertoire of responses that I can work against my opponents.
        So thanks, Brent – you really taught me something that I can take to the court and use :)

  7. rich jaffe says:

    I personally don’t feel that was the right shot for most players. I assume most of the players that follow your advice are in the 3.5 to 4.5 playing range, and for that level of play a lob from that position of the court is difficult the execute. I agree you don’t go right down the middle since the player in the hot seat will be able to cut across on an angle for an easy poach. The best shot would be the half volley hit with touch that travels over the center net strap and a little cross court. That ball will be hit to the receivers backhand and a ball that is towards the middle of the court. Receiver can’t do much with that ball and serving team is positioned to handle most replies. I appreciate the work that you do and your videos are always thought provoking.

    • Hi Rich.

      I’m not saying necessarily that this is the right shot.

      We shouldn’t measure each and every point by whether we win or lose the point.

      Some times we play shots to “show” our opponents something when we’re in a very tough situation knowing that the chances are pretty good we’re going to lose this one individual point.

      But you might get a lot of residual value down the road in the match by what you show in those points you lose.

      Brent

  8. Spot on.

    Bob moves and closes like a fiend ( I have been on the receiving end of a few of his shots!). Knowing that, I doubt we would be so quick to suggest a middle or down the line shot.

    Part of our issue is remembering that at this level, almost everyone closes, and hard.

    One stroke note: watch the swing path and finish on that half volley lob. I could some practice doing that!

    • Hi Kirk.

      You’re right about Bob sensing blood on this return.

      Believe me, in this video the middle looks wide open, but unless you’ve played enough shots towards Bob’s alley that have won points so that he’s now looking for another one, the middle is danger from Larry’s outside shot, his forehand.

      Brent

  9. I agree with Robert (must be in the name) and would add, play to your level of play. Don’t play shots you have not practiced. Brent, it would be interesting to see a video of multiple shots to see the different responses. Also, knowing your opponents and there tendencies helps in shot selection. HAVE A GREAT DAY.

    • No question Robert that if you know your opponents’ tendencies, it makes shot selection a whole lot more simple.

      Brent

  10. Certainly a great shot but extremely low percentage. Sometimes the wrong shot gets the job done, this is one of those times.

    • A lob from any part of the court is not a low percentage shot.

      What is low percentage in this point is how well Larry played the lob.

      Even a shorter lob that sent the returner backing up into a tough overhead position might have won Larry and Tony the point.

      Brent

  11. I would play a half-volley lob only if I knew the tendencies of the opponents. If they close hard, then yes, that is definitely the right shot. But at the start of the match against unknown opponents, the best shot is low back at the server’s feet, or, if you have time and confidence in your forehand, a big one right at the net man to keep him at home for later in the match.

  12. Richard says:

    Really?! Hitting that shot consistently is above my level. It’s one thing to lob & quite another not to lob too short or deep.

    • Then get out there and practice this situation Richard.

      This is not an uncommon situation n doubles.

      Brent

      • Richard says:

        Good advice for sure. I am making the transition from playing mostly singles to mostly doubles. I have a good all-court game, which is well suited for doubles. Your instruction has definitely helped me develop this all-court style, but one area that clearly needs improvement, especially for doubles, is lobbing. I will work on it!

  13. Very nice…. A little beyond my confidence level right now but inspiring me to practice that and give it a go.

    • Glad you’re inspired Woody to get out there and re-create this specific match play situation in doubles and work it out ;-)

      Brent

  14. Many different opinions and I agree, hitting the correct return gets my same answer, do you know the opponents, what is the score, with this knowledge and your ability you decide what you can do best. I think this return happens more times than we are willing to admit and as all of you keep saying, practice this return for future matches I WILL CALL YOU MONDAY APRIL 7, 2014..

  15. Brent,

    Server showed a deft touch on the lob. The fact he was able to hit into the wind helped. Good choice since both opponents are aggressively moving to take the net. It would be fun to know the game score and tendencies of all players. Maybe too much to ask?

    Allan

  16. great shot, my skill level would let me try the same shot only cuz I’d not have gotten as far in the court as Mr. Loeb did.

  17. Mitchell Strauss says:

    I’m a 4.5 player and if my opponent tried that once a set , more power to them if they pull off such a high-risk high-reward play. If they tried it again we would be thrilled to eat that lob for lunch! I consider that more of a trick play than a percentage move and Certainly not a neutral or safe shot.

  18. I know I would have tried an ally shot trying to dip it over the net with the hope ff catching the returners partner closing to the middle. Hopefully it would have been at or near ground level for the returners partner to have to hit up whereas I would have been all over the net for a put away.
    I don’t know any of these guys so thats what I would have tried. Not too confident with my top spin lob. Can do them all day long in practice but in a match? Low percentage at least for me.

  19. Read all the comments and agree with most. My first impression was by waiting, the returner gave the opponents time to commit themselves. Many times there’s an advantage to hitting the ball earlier than later. In this case the opposite is true. The server is rushing the net; wait and lob—smart play but not easy and in this case the placement was perfect—a middle lob is probably returnable.
    Newt

  20. In slo-mo, it appears to me that the returner’s split is late. This happens to me all the time, because the actual split here seems to occur when the lob is already well underway. Of course it’s a perfect lob, but even a shorter lob would have won the point because the returner did his split too late in my opinion. So, my response to this is to split so much earlier that I am not even at the service line, which leaves many more good options to the server. For me, the timing of the split when closing is perhaps the hardest thing in tennis at the moment. With that said I do think that the shot hit here has a lot more to do with the returner. He gives away the option to be lobbed fairly easily. Not easy for me, mind, but moderately easy for the server with his abilities. It’s something I am really fascinated with: we all admire the big shots, the super lobs, volleys and what have you, but we often overlook how that shot was made so much easier by what has been going on in the point before.

    • Major Dan says:

      Good point. I noticed the late split step too. That might have factored into the server’s shot selection in this instance.

  21. John Burns says:

    Hey Brent,

    That’s just some awesome shotmaking! Aside from the fact that he utilized the best court geometry, he still had to get it over the receiver’s reach, and get it down into the court. And from a half volley, no less. Did anyone suggest that shot?

    I hope you and Mai are well.

    Aloha,
    John

  22. Very low percentage shot. If not hit perfectly an immediate loser.
    I’d only use that if Belinsky had been charging the net at speed on previous points.

  23. His half volley lob was a nice shot and was undoubtedly aided by the wind that Brent pointed out was blowing and that forced the final return lob well long. Once he had the ball over the net rushing returner’s reach, the wind kept it in and made it a winner.

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