What’s The Right Shot? Episode #43 – The Question

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Well, here we go again with yet another serve & volley transitional shot situation in doubles for you.

It’s interesting to see the different types of transitional shots that are available to us out there.

What do you think is the right shot for the server in this situation?

Let me know in the Comments section below.  Thanks in advance …

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  1. I guess if I were taking this shot I would be hitting it right at the feet of the guy stood on the service line opposite where the odds are slim he would get it back. As a second alternative I might want to consider going sharply cross court but this might give the returner a second chance.

    • Morning Simon.

      OK, so you’re going to try to get your forehand down to the feet of the returner’s partner.

      It can be done but needs a precise amount of topspin to get up and over the net and then very quickly down to that player’s feet.

      Gonna be tough to be consistent with that shot …


  2. At the start of the match with no info on what they like to do, I would just roll it low over the center strap. If the opposing net player is middle happy I might go down the line or lob the backhand if his high backhand is suspect just to send a message.

    • Now that I looked at it again short cross court is an option here with as wide as the ball is. Quite a few options here with no real pressure.

    • Hey Mike.

      You’re right, there are a few options.

      The key though is to go with the very 1st option that comes into your brain.

      Totally commit early to that shot, whatever it is, and you’ll play a higher quality shot.

      Higher quality should never equate to hitting an all-out winner, instead, it should be all about being consistent with making that shot.


  3. Laurentiu says:

    Long line lob (preferably topspin), or
    angled cross-court with lot of topspin.

    • Morning Laurentiu.

      When we transition, topspin can be really tempting, but remember, playing a topspin shot from well inside the baseline poses technical challenges in getting the topspin up and then back down quickly.

      Not as easy as it might seem …


  4. Kevin B says:

    Wait a minute!! You cut some frames out of the video before getting to that freeze frame! 🙂 Still, though, I might have seen enough “weight shift” by the server – along with the fact that the ball is quite wide and the returner is maybe a tad slow getting in – that I’m thinking that there’s a pretty good likelihood that the server is going to roll it sharply cross court. A *lot* of room over there, so he doesn’t have to do anything all that risky to pull it off. Let me know if Rollin remembers you today. 🙂 Can’t believe there are that many guys over 60 that can subject their knees to those hard courts. . .

    • Just trying to keep you on your toes KB!

      Thanks for the encouragement vs. Rollan today, who by the way is a top player.

      I love this guy’s smooth effortless style of hitting the ball. It can be deceptive. You can get lulled into thinking his shot is going to come in with average pace only to realize that whoa, there’s some easy power coming your way …

      And the knees – it’s absolutely vital that we keep our body weight to a minimum IF you want to compete well throughout a long 128 or 64 draw. Shameless plug there KB for LifeShotz and LS-VIBE 😉


  5. George Anderson says:

    I would hit an offensive lob down the returning partners alley. It looks to me like the returner has the middle covered. The ball seems too low to hit it at the returner’s feet. A cross court to the returners alley would be a very severe angle with not too much room for error.

    • Hi George.

      OK, but take a look again at the returner’s parter’s court position. He hasn’t closed the net after his partner’s return all that much …


  6. Hi Brent
    Like these vídeos a lot! Depending on the score. If I’m ahead 40-15 I will risk a down the alley shot but if score is tight I ll go with safer topspin x-court to get set for the next shot hoping the opponent will have a tough volley to respond. Anyhow the shot have to be mind set the moment I serve.
    Keep it up!


    • Morning Manuel.

      Good call on what’s the score during this point.

      If I’m the server, it’s 40-25, and it’s early in the match, I just might “show” a down the line shot to build doubt for the rest of the match …


  7. Jim Falvo says:

    Lob the receiver’s partner to force the difficult backhand overhead. Receiver has forward momentum and may not be able to apply the brakes to cover the lob if the partner yells, “Yours.”

    • Morning Jim.

      I don’t mind a flatter or slight under spin controlled lob over the returner’s partner’s backhand.

      A topspin lob though is very tough from this court position …


  8. Two things to observe:
    1. The serve return is not very sharp and is comfortably in the forehand of the server. So he has many options. He can be aggressive.
    2. The serve returner is coming forward but still has more distance to the ball than the net man. So it is easier to be aggressive towards the net man.

    So I would hit a hard, topspin forehand longline in the backhand side of the net man.

    • Hi John.

      I really like your initial feedback about how the sever has his transitional shot in a comfortable place.

      Despite the fact that Tony is hitting his forehand from his alley, he’s set up withy his footwork in a way that he’ll be able to play his shot AND recover to the middle of his court to end up in a good court position should the opponents return whatever shot he hits.

      Whatever shot we choose, we always have to consider where we are on the court, and if we’re not in the center of the court we’re covering, then can we play a shot and recover to that middle?

      So, sometimes your shot selection is totally based on your ability to recover to the middle …


    • John I would think if your able to hit big enough you would want the net players right hip. If I saw the big swing coming I would be leaning backhand. And besides my backhand volley was my better volley.

  9. Hi Brent,

    Love these,Whats the right shot, I would hit the sharp cross court, high percentage shot. The lob over the net man would have to be perfect, low percentage. The returner is far enough back to cover it and the net man is not hanging his nose over the net. Or the default, back at the retainers feet high percentage shot.

    • Morning Robert.

      Smart choice. Great feedback.

      Not saying that you nailed the shot that was played, but you’ll be interested in our Answer video this Thursday.


  10. Major Dan says:

    As Kevin B said – where did those frames go right before the last one??
    It would seem that if the server took it early he could topspin the ball at a big angle cross court and win the point outright.
    But the server has a very big backswing and his whole body position says it is not going to be a crosscourt shot – look at where he is facing.
    I think a forehand drive down the line is the right shot here – an opening to win the point AND good court positioning for both the server and his partner (middle of the court) to clean up any defensive replies.

    • Major Dan – good morning.

      Good feedback on Tony’s (server) setup.

      A drive down the line can work IF this isn’t a big point, say later in the match if it’s tight.

      But, if it’s 40-15 and early in the match for example, then yes, a down the line drive can build doubt in the returning team for future points even if the serving team loses this one point.


  11. Eric carlson says:

    Cut Chip lob down the singles line with plenty of room for error! The returners partner didn’t split and seems a bit flat footed , the server has great momentum and seems to have control.

  12. Looks like Bob Wright at net on this side…

    No way I try to sneak a ball by him down the line, esp since his weight is shifted left.

    Cross court for me…..try to set up my partner to close the net and finish the point.

    • Morning Kirk.

      You’re right, that is the great Bob Wright, the returner’s partner.

      A smart call to go cross court and play that shot to where it can bounce directly in front of your partner …


  13. rich jaffe says:

    I would take that shot down the line into the ally, or more towards the middle over the center net strap. Worse place to go is wide. The ball in question is a ball hit to the players outside so if you follow the laws of directionals an outside ball should be taken back to the outside and that would be down the line. The more down the middle shot is never a bad choice since it keeps the ball centered and takes away angles from your opponents. The out wide ball would be hard to cover but I know that shot is attempted by many players ,and if your opponent makes that shot all you can do is clap your hands, but it is a low percentage shot.

    • Hi Rich.

      If you can direct the ball into the middle, you’re absolutely correct, you always want your opponents’ shots coming out of their middle as much as possible.


  14. Crosscourt or chip lob over net man.

  15. There are many things one could do with certainty if this were a video game. But here, as server I am stepping out toward the alley to play a low side spinning chipped return. It is not just about setting up for my ‘dream shot’, but reading the spin and trying to get into position to make a good play. Going short cross court seems like the best plan, so at worst I return the favor to the returner. Seems I saw a substantially similar play during a team event in Washington a few years back with V Williams (?) as returner, and the point went just that way — and the outcome was the returner’s low reply to that shot went into the tape.

    • Hi Robert.

      I like the fact that you’re thinking to quell those instincts of going for the dream shot which might end up on tonight’s ESPN 11pm Top 10 Shots Of The Day …

      WAY too often, that “I’m the man” voice takes over, and frankly, we lose a big majority of those points.


  16. I would hit a topspin down the middle but slightly to the returners backhand side. The key would be to keep it low. This will create an opening out wide, and hopefully the low shot will make the returner hit a high ball back. I would then close in, expecting a somewhat easy put-away volley for either me or my partner.

  17. Warren Turner says:

    The variety of responses leads me to make a somewhat off-topic comment. (hope that is OK)
    The people I play with I know well enough that the “right shot” is totally dependent on my comfort level vs.their weakness. As only one example, I do not have a reliable Topspin Forehand. That rules out that type of shot. On the other hand several of my (sometimes) opponents don’t like ANY low shot. So against that opponent placement is not as important as getting the ball low to that player.
    The moral of the story is that at my level (3.5 Doubles) the first thought is the “Right” shot. If I am facing an unknown opponent I have to go with my best shot, which might not be a “High Percentage Shot” considered in abstract.


  18. I don’t think there is many options to this one. I would do my best to go back over the center of the net, topspin, try to hit the correct speed and do my best to make it hit close to the returners feet.

  19. Jorge de la Fuente says:

    I have two choices. The coming ball is an easy ball. So I love to do a Wiper Shot, with caressing the ball on the out side and hooking it, in an ablique manner, to my left and landing the ball at the Alley in front and to the extreme right of the man that has send the ball to me. My other choice is to perform a Lob above the Net man. Thank you Brent. Jorge

  20. He has to play down the middle as his partner has squeezed in leaving both the alley and cross-court wide open.

  21. as others have said – there are many options, but the obvious and highest % shot is to get the ball back towards the middle of the court – low to the returner’s BH. The returner’s partner is leaning towards covering the line so a shot down the line is going to have to be a good one or you’ve opened up the court the receiver’s partner to hit a fairly easy winning BH volley down the middle towards the server’s side. The sharp x-court FH would also have to be well hit and almost a winner, because if the returner gets there he’s got the perfect angle to go down the line past the net man – and it’s an easy shot since he’s be wide of the net man. Even if you miss the shot over the middle a bit – as long as you get it low to either guy – they are going to have to hit up to the server or his partner – either a low volley or a half volley – advantage serving team – so that’s the high percentage shot.

  22. cherylbarnett says:

    I say go down the line because of the position you and your partner are in. You can set up offense by isolating the net man and with the feed to his backhand you have set up you and/or your partner to hit into an open court.

  23. the 3 choices that I see include an offensive lob over the net man. hitting cross court towards the alley or hitting a soft volley towards the middle but far enough away from the net man; of these choices I would probably hit the volley towards the middle of the court but if I were quick enough I may hit the lob a the server was coming in

  24. One thing I have noticed in a lot of these best shot scenarios is that most would given the change try to play a ball to a players backhand. I love these people. My backhand groundie and volley are not my weak side.

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