Bollettieri Q&A: Coming to grips
Hi Mr. Bollettieri, I play an attacking game and it helped me win quite a few matches when I was younger. But I’m about to turn 18 and haven't grown much in a few years, so I'm now quite small for my age and starting to get pushed around by my opponents. Also, I use a very explosive Eastern forehand which only helps me when I’m in control, and when I don’t, I make a lot of unforced errors. I try changing to semi-Western but because I’m small, I don’t get as much power on it as my Eastern forehand grip. What should I do to reduce errors and start attacking again?—Kenny T., Auckland, New Zealand
Let’s go over the facts: You are small, you love to hit hard and control play, you are almost 18 and are still small, you have a strong Eastern grip, and when you try hitting with a semi-Western grip you feel you lose power (I don’t agree with your theory; you can have plenty of power with that grip with practice). My solution is, you must now change your style of play and not try to outhit your bigger opponents. Yes, with a semi-Western grip you might lack power (for now), but you will add spin, which allows you to hit the ball higher over the net and deep to the backcourt. Adding this to your game will break down the rhythm of your opponent and give you chances to attack.
Dear Mr. Bollettieri, I find myself at the net quite often with an easy volley that could allow me to win the point. Unfortunately, I have had trouble putting away these volleys. Instead, my volleys just pop up and give the opponent an easy passing shot or lob. Any advice on how to keep the volleys lower and how to have a better “pop” to them?—John Anderson, Georgia
You don’t need power to win your volley points. Instead, use the power of your opponent’s shot and redirect it. Hit the volley deep if you are only a few feet in front of the service line for your first volley. Angle your volley if you are several feet inside the service line. Make sure you have a Continental to weak Eastern grip and use your non-hitting hand to hold the racquet a little longer. And you shouldn’t “pop” your volleys. Do not accelerate on contact unless you’re hitting a swinging volley.
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Nick Bollettieri of the Bollettieri Tennis Academy has trained many collegiate and professional players, including 10 who reached the world No. 1 ranking.