Preparing for a Forth or Fifth shot

After hitting a third shot drop, you should immediately move forward to the no-volley line – right?  If your third shot drop was a good one, then yes, quickly move forward to the no-volley line and prepare for a dink return.  But what if your third shot drop was not that great?  Here is what I recommend.

If your third shot drop was obviously way too high and will be attacked with an overhead smash – stay back just inside your baseline.  If your third shot drop was off just a bit and is not going to be smashed with an overhead but your opponent is going to likely hit a volley return, then you should only come forward halfway, remember to stop completely before hitting the ball, bend your knees, and position your paddle out in front of you downward near the court surface because your opponent will likely target their volleyed shot at your feet.  If a shot is hit hard and targeted at your chest or higher while you’re standing in the middle of the court, is likely going to go out of bounds. 

Of course, you should try to track your shot through the air, but sometimes it’s difficult to tell if your shot is going to drop gently into the kitchen as planned or was hit with too much pace and will be attacked with a volley.  A visual key to making this decision is your opponent’s preparation for their shot.  If they move their paddle face pointing downward, they’re preparing for a dink return – so your third shot drop was a good one and you need to move all the way forward to the no-volley line. If they position their paddle waist-high for a volley, that’s a clue for you to move forward only half-way and you should prepare for a shot targeting your feet.

To summarize, move quickly forward to the no-volley line when you hit an effective third shot drop.  If your opponent is able to volley a third shot drop that was not so effective, then move forward only halfway and stay back near your baseline if your opponent can smash a poorly executed drop shot.

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