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Player tactics



Henman at the net

By Dan Thorp
LTA coach

Tim Henman has been one of the best net players in tennis for a good number of years.

Technically his volley is superb, his touch and feel for the ball is unrivalled and his reactions and athleticism are awesome.

But if you want to achieve quick improvements in your results at the net then it's Henman's tactical understanding that you should look to.

STEP ONE

Henman at the net

Choose the right time to come in

Henman looks for situations where he can move forward onto the incoming ball.

This enables him to get to the net quicker and makes him more difficult to pass.

Usually he will wait for a weaker shorter ball landing on or around the service line.

The moment he sees that the ball is dropping short he moves up the court to meet it - he doesn't hang around on the baseline and let the ball come to him.

STEP TWO

Henman at the net

Pressurise your opponent with the approach

Henman does not always hit his approach shots to the same place but there are some general patterns he follows.

He will often hit his approach shots down the line.

This shot reaches his opponent more quickly but also gives his opponent less angle to pass him with.

But just as often he will choose whichever shot he feels is going to force his opponent to struggle.

So he will often slice the ball low and wide to his opponents backhand or sometimes even drop the ball low and short.

STEP THREE

Henman at the net

Get your positioning right at the net

Once he has struck his approach shot Henman moves again towards the net.

But he does not just head for the middle of the court.

He moves towards the same side he hit his approach shot to. This is vital as it cuts down his opponent's opportunities to pass.

If he were to hit the ball out wide to the backhand then move to the centre of the court, he would leave a huge space for his opponent to pass down the line.

Once at the net he remains balanced with his racquet out in front of him. That way he is ready to move to either side or back for the lob.

STEP FOUR

Henman at the net

Know where to hit your volley

Making the right decisions about where to hit your volley is crucial.

Henman follows a basic rule - if the ball is at around net height or below then he will volley it back deep into his opponent's court.

If the ball comes back higher than the net then he will look to hit it away on an angle for a winner.

But each time he will adjust his net position to cover the likely angles; That is to move to the side of the court you hit the ball to.





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