An approach shot is called "approach" because you are approaching the net. Therefore, you will hit it between your ground strokes and volleys. This transition shot doesn't have to be hit hard, but with perfect timing instead. Don't forget to split-step when you are opponent hits the ball even when you are approaching the net. This way your weight will be centered when the ball comes over the net. Adjust your position by taking tiny, fast steps to set up for the shot. Be ready to move around in any direction as the ball might have some wicked backspin on it. When you do move around the court, try to move diagonally towards the ball instead of horizontally. When you move diagonally you can cover much more tennis court in a shorter amount of time. An approach shot should mimic a ground stroke except that it is on a smaller scale. Tighten up the backswing. Make sure to hit will a lot of topspin so you can create an awesome angle. When you hit an angle approach shot it will pull your opponent off the court. Your opponent will most likely then it a defensive return. You can nail this defensive return back at them with a strong, flat volley or a soft, angled volley. You can also hit an approach shot with slice instead of topspin. Use a continental grip for slice. However, if you choose to hit a slice make sure the shot is low and far deep in the court. If you hit a weak shot then your opponent will crush you!
There are several drills you can practice to improve your approach shot. It is important to improve your consistency. It can be tempting to try to always hit your approach shot with pace, but it doesn't matter how hard you hit the ball if you can't get it in the court! Here are two drills you can try to help you improve your approach shot. You will need a partner or work with a tennis instructor on these drills. An effective approach shot is one with a sharp angle. Start at the middle of the service line in the deuce box. Your hitting partner will hit you a short shot that should land half way between the service line and the net so you hit a forehand. Hit a forehand cross court approach shot with topspin. The goal is to have your ball drop in the far corner of the deuce side service box. Go back to your starting position and repeat the shot. It is recommended to do this shot 10-15 times in a row so you can work on endurance and consistency. Then go on to backhand angle approach shot with topspin and repeat the drill. An effective approach shot not only has an angle, but is hit with finesse and "touch". Try "mini tennis". This next activity used to work on touch and consistency. Weave this into your warm up during a match as well. Start at the service line with a partner directly across the net. Begin a rally and try to keep the ball within the service boxes. Count the number of shots you can hit in one rally. See if you can reach 50 consecutive shots without messing up. Use topspin when you are playing mini tennis. Both of these activities should help improve your approach shot.
You could do better ball, where both players play out the hole with their own ball and the lowest score is taken. Scramble, where both players hit a drive, take the best one, both players hit the approach, take the best one, and then both hit the putt, take the best one. Foursomes, Player A hits the drive on the odd holes, player B hits the approach and so on, on the even holes player B hits the tee shot, and player A hits the approach etc. Or greensomes, where both players hit a tee shot, the best one is taken, whoever's tee shot is not chosen hits the approach and the rest of the hole is player out in alternate shots from there.
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