What’s The Right Shot? Episode #41 – The Answer

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Well, we had a boatload of great comments from last Tuesday’s Question segment video of this episode of “What’s The Right Shot?”. 

I don’t think you’ll be terribly surprised as to what I think is the right shot in this situation, but there’s another element to serve & volley that I point as well in this video.

As always, your comments, feedback, & questions are greatly appreciated.  Thanks in advance …

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  1. Great points, Brent. That’s where John McEnroe was so good with his volleying positioning. He could tell very quickly where and how the ball was going to land, and then make the adjustment to either slow down a little bit and take it as an approach volley or make a nice half volley. Good tips in this video.

    • Morning Chris.

      Glad you liked this video.

      Mai, Tony Dawson, and I were there a couple of weeks ago for a LifeShotz event. Tony and I played an impromptu doubles exhibition against Tennis Director Russ Angel and his assistant Jordan for a gathering of WebTennis players.

      I just got an email this morning from a WebTennis player who was in attendance.

      His remarks were centered on the concept in this video and your comments about about the early split step to measure the return, and then if needed, rather than lunging forward just so that I could play a volley, he was intrigued about my decision for which transitional shot to play based on balance.

      Which shot gave me the best chance to be on balance?

      That’s become instinctive for me over the years, but you’re right Chris, Mac was always on balance, taking his time with the execution of his shot, and making life miserable for his doubles opponents 😉


  2. rich jaffe says:

    Nice video. I agree with your shot selection and explanation. I do feel taking that shot down the line is not a bad option since your taking an outside ball to the outside part of the court and the ball wasn’t hit so hard that the player half volleying couldn’t control that shot. Worse spot is to take the outside ball to the inside part of the court which in this instance would be towards the middle. Your videos are always informative and make you think. Keep up the good work..

    • Morning Rich.

      I agree with you on playing that volley up the line IF …

      1) You’re not so far in your alley that if you go up the line and the opponent anticipates your shot, the middle of your court is wide open.

      2) That opposing net player has poached a few times already and the chances are pretty good they will again based on this tough return of serve.

      3) You can think about not having to play a winner up the line, but instead, can you direct into that alley and still keep it relatively low so that if the opposing net player stays they won’t have a sitter opportunity.

      4) And even if you go up the line with that shot and lose the point, you may have just put the thought in the opp’s mind that it’s a possibility for future points. That thought just might keep them from poaching again.

      It’s a guessing game …


  3. I like your point about analyzing the shot coming back at your, the return of serve. If it floats at all, stopping and slicing or even driving the return may be a better alternative than hitting an balance shot. I did not look that closely at the video but agree completely.
    Great lesson,

    • Morning Quentin. Glad to read that you agree.

      The term serve and volley is misleading.

      It implies that every time you come into net behind your serve, you’re supposed to play a volley for your next shot.

      The MOST important aspect of your transitional shot is to be on balance when you play it.

      Choose either a volley, a 1/2 volley, or an approach shot based on which one of those 3 shots allows you to have the best balance when you execute it.


      1) you’ll be more consistent with playing your shot where you want it to go.

      2) you’ll more efficiently transition to the next best court position.

      3) you’ll feel like a badass 😉


  4. Love what’s the right shot.
    For mixed doubles with women hitting 1st low volley
    would probably go back to the women’s backhand.
    Low if possible. Especially since opponent (women) did not close the net.
    This is not regular doubles, recognize where the weaker player probably is.

    • Morning Al.

      I agree that in MXD you have to direct more balls to the weaker player (which is frequently NOT the woman), but that said, it’s risky to take low contact points like what the server has to handle in this video and go UP at a player at net.

      Even if that player is the weaker one, almost anyone can handle that shot and do some damage.

      If my partner is predominately getting the attack directed at him or her, then my job as the receiver is to play as many returns as possible to the incoming servers’ feet and have my partner close the net and look for that next shot to get popped up to her/him.

      In this situation, best to go back to the returner’s feet …


  5. I find making the right decision between putting the brakes on or rushing forward is one of the most challenging aspects of serve and volley. Obviously, if you can’t move forward in time to take the ball above the net, putting the brakes on makes sense. But … if you stop and you’ve misjudged the trajectory, you might end up having to make a low volley, only this time from no man’s land. Clearly, very important to work on positioning and when to let the ball bounce and when to take it out of the air. Good lesson, Brent!

    • Morning Richard.

      You’re right. The footwork decision you make can help or hurt your chances of cleanly playing your transitional shot.

      Depending on the quality of my serve, I split step earlier on what I think is a serve that the returner can do some damage with.

      That said, still, it’s all about having good balance coming out of your service motion so that you can visually pick up and track the ball coming back from the returner.

      The sooner you make clear visual contact with the incoming ball, the sooner you’ll make and commit to a smart footwork decision.


      • I saw Djoker on TV the other day put the brakes on and let the ball bounce, instead of rushing forward to take a volley below the net. Of course, he looked on balance and hit a pretty good cross court backhand off his back foot, probably a much higher quality shot than if he had volleyed the ball from below the net. So even the number 2 player in the world must read your website, Brent! 🙂

        • Haha Richard!

          If Novak is getting tips from WebTennis then I need to find his agent and get a slice of that prize money 😉


  6. You are right, you could see that advice coming a mile away. Of course, if being on the court were the same as plaything a video game, most of us would have won Wimbledon once or twice by now. But putting the brakes on and taking that ball on the bounce lets you slow things down for yourself and have time to make a good reaction. No guarantees, but I like the odds of playing a half volley there much better.

    • Hi Robert.

      For sure, taking your time executing your shot gives you the best possible chance of being a consistent shot maker.

      Serve and volley is misleading. We tend to think we HAVE to volley every time after our serve.

      Not so …


  7. cross court to the feet is the correct shot

  8. Off topic but you must be a “Van The Man” fan. Circa early 80’s, Cleaning Windows. One of my favorite songwriters and vocalists.
    Tennis wise I too have a habit of trying to get inside the service box but split stepping while the ball is in flight, well after it is hit by my opponent. Appreciate your point on serve and volley. Taught years ago to stay out of no mans land.

    • Hi Allen.

      “Cleaning Windows” is one of my all-time favorite songs.

      Talk about being in the zone, wow, VM definitely was on this recording 😉

      I have no problem with No Man’s Land. The biggest mistake teaching pros have ever made is to instill the fear of transitioning through NML.


  9. Gary Colter says:

    Cleaning Windows by Van Morrison – nice bumper music Brent!

  10. Brent

    great position on this video, too many people run through the shot and don’t stop. I’ll have to keep this in mind next time out on the court.

    • Morning Paul.

      I agree.

      No Man’s Land is a beautiful place to take your time, execute an on-balanced shot, and then move to the next best court position …


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