Hitting volleys from No-Man's Land is a recipe for failure. Coming to the net is not an easy task for many players but understanding when and how to make the transition is a key element for successful doubles. Let's explore the 2 rules for coming into the net and the shot selection that will get you in the best position to hit a makable first volley.
The Gigi Method Rules for Coming in to the Net
If your volleys are better than your groundstrokes, the rule is very simple...GET TO THE NET!!! But even if that's not the case, to hang back at the baseline in doubles is dangerous. You can get beaten in crosscourt rallies. The opponent's can intimidate you thus forcing the error or making you hit a poor shot that the opponent's net person can poach and drill at your partner. So even if your volleys aren't as proficient, you can reach the net for your first volley following these simple rules.
Come to net when you are able to hit a first volley somewhere near
the service line or closer to the net.
This can be achieved two ways:
a. Check your position when hitting the approach shot - The best place to hit your approach shot is while you are standing inside the court, somewhere in the mid-court, a few steps inside the baseline. This is the area commonly referred to as no-man's land. From this position (depicted in yellow) you are only two or three quick steps from the service line. Remember the harder you hit the ball, the faster it travels back and therefore the less time you have to get to a good position at the net. If you are not successful getting into the net for a first volley when hitting your approach shot, try the second alternative for coming in.
b. The Sneak Attack - This is not the infamous Sneak Attack by Roger (SABR). This is a shot selection option for getting into the net, which also helps when dealing with aggressive net players. In this case, you want to hit a high crosscourt ball that's not necessarily a lob, but high enough that if the net person poached it would be above their head and therefore not easy to reach or put away. As the baseliner backs up to retrieve it, you sneak in to the net. Because this ball is traveling slower than your normal shot there is plenty of time to get in. Opponents will often throw up another high-ball or lob, which can be easily handled by two players at the net. We have covered two ways to come into the net, which will give you the quickest time and most efficient way to get to a good position for your first volley. What about your opponent? Where do you want them to hit from when you are coming in? That's when rule 2 comes into effect.
Guess what Gigi thinks is the second critical element of approaching to the net in doubles and you will receive a free copy of The Gigi Method.
(Excludes Master Doubles with Gigi clinic participants and Chelsea Piers members)