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Old 03-18-2009, 04:00 PM   #1
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Default Having trouble playing against flat hitters!

Recently I've been playing with this guy who hits very flat, and almost all flat. I'm a SW grip top spin style player myself and most of my hitting partners are of the same style. I found myself very uncomfortable with the fast, low trajectory and low bouncing balls this guy hits back at me. He does make quite a bit more errors than me - normal for a non topspin forehand I guess, but on the balls he does hit back, they very often barely clear the net with very fast pace and low bounces, and often with quite weird angles.

I constantly reacted too slow to these balls, resulting in winners against me or weak returns that couldnt go over the net. First of all I had big troule judging the landing position on these balls. With a topsin ball I felt like I could have a clear view of the ball going over the net (even if it's fast and powerful), and I can expect the ball to land deep somewhere close to the base line (even if it's a shorter ball I have plenty of time to move in and be aggressive). But with this style of flat ball very often I couldn't even tell if it's going over the net, and landings can be fairly unpredicable. The low bounce makes any late preparation very costly.

Secondly the balls felt way out of my comfort hitting zone for my grip and swing. I felt like I couldn't bring my power (all the torso rotation, the swing, and follow thru etc) into these balls at this height. The resulting shots are often weak.

Your advice on how to handle this type of balls will be appreciated.
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Old 03-19-2009, 01:59 AM   #2
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Default Re: Having trouble playing against flat hitters!



Ah....finally someone who sees what I see as a problem with all this topspin. It's all too readable. I'm fairly old-school (ok, well, OLD) myself and hit the ball fairly flat. I eat up playing topsinners because the ball indeed sits up. When I do run across a "mirror" (someone who hits it flat or even with slice), I have to really concentrate. The key, I've found, is in the footwork and legwork. Stay on the balls of your feet more and be ready to respond (forward, backward or sideways). But even more importantly, IMO, you've got to bend those knees, really get down for those shots...if you want to keep your swing/arm motion the same/similar. Almost feels a bit like playing a racquetball game (which I loved!).

Good luck and for playing a guy with a different style. It'll improve your game.
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Old 03-19-2009, 04:33 AM   #3
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Default Re: Having trouble playing against flat hitters!

I love playing flat hitters. Probably because my coach hits very flat, especially on the forehand. I've got used to it.

Well, I'd say AQ summed it pretty well. It's all about footwork and bending the knees a lot. I've got problems with both, but when I'm playing seriously I can improve a lot and see the difference. Having a short swing on the strokes is also helpful. The fact is that flat shots are usually full of pace, so you don't have to generate much pace yourself. All you need is to "deflect", that is, direct the pace coming from your opponent's shot. Use his pace to move him around the court. When it's too much, use the slice to break the rhythm, it will often cause him to overhit, because he'll be used to the pace. Adjust all your strokes to shorter ones. Volleys should be even shorter. Don't even try to slice them, just block all the passing shots.

Also hit the ball as far ahead from you as possible to absorb better the pace.

That's all I can say, I really love playing flat hitters.
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Old 03-19-2009, 04:57 AM   #4
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Default Re: Having trouble playing against flat hitters!

Against flat hitters I usually hit with even more topspin.

If you hit an even flatter ball, you are only playing his game. By hitting heavier kicking balls deep and moving the flat hitter around the court, it gets him out of his comfort zone enough for him to either go for a winner from a disadvantageous position or give you a short ball to pounce upon.
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Old 03-20-2009, 12:48 AM   #5
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Default Re: Having trouble playing against flat hitters!

Like GlennMirnyi I also enjoy playing against flat hitters, because as he says, you can use their pace against them. Saying that though, one of my friends at my tennis club made mincemeat of me in a match last year with his flat forehand, the conditions were quite damp and the ball was skidding through at an awesome rate - it was one of those days where I simply couldn't get my racquet to the ball to do anything, so I can undestand the difficulties you're having.

I think you've had great advice from everyone so far, I'd just add that early prep is vital on your shots, get your racquet back early and anticipate a skidding, penetrating bounce - you'll need to start your swing slightly earlier than usual. Do you have any friends who play like this? It might be useful to have a few practice sessions with them. I play in a league with players of all ages so I'm pretty much used to all the different styles out there. Just see it as a fun challenge to overcome
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Old 03-20-2009, 06:01 AM   #6
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Default Re: Having trouble playing against flat hitters!

Thanks a ton everyone. These are some awsome advices. I think from now on what I'll concentrate on are:

1. Bending of knees. I guess I'll stand lower even from the starting position.
2. Glue my eyes more on the ball.
3. More compact backswing.

Re: groovedude. I wish I could do what you did. Actually I tried to hit the balls harder with more topspin so that I could "outpower" him, but I guess I'm simply not Nadal yet (who can hit balls that land on the baseline and instantly jumps up shoulder high). The anxiety often gives me more UE's. I think I need to overcome the return of flat balls first, so that I do not fear them when they come. From that point I'll try to add more pace to my own shots and dictate the play.
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Old 03-25-2009, 01:05 PM   #7
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Default Re: Having trouble playing against flat hitters!

More- less all of the above said should work.
The footwork is essential, don't try to overhit him. Be patient, change the rhytm - drop him slice occasionally, put a deep ball with spin on the weaker side, and according to what I think the most important thing: Move him arround the court, running him left and right . He'll make a mistake.
Well of course, it depends what his level is. But this should be enough .

I love playing flat hitters, I try to be patient during the rally.
Yes he can outpower me ,and could finish a point greatly .
But the next two or three are his errors!
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Old 04-02-2009, 06:05 PM   #8
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Default Re: Having trouble playing against flat hitters!

As a flat hitter (though i play double off both sides), what i love is dictating the rallies, and stepping inside for it. As a result my winner and UE count is high as im the one controlling the match. What i do hate do is when my oponent changes the pace, and my two hated shots are drops or deep shots. Drops wouldnt give my the opputunity to hit flat, and deep shots would mean id have to stay way back to hit and my resulting shots are easier to predict. Whatever you do, dont let him get the upper hands in rallies, change the pace constantly.
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Old 04-22-2009, 12:08 AM   #9
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Default Re: Having trouble playing against flat hitters!

Be under the ball and like people said take something off your shot and just use his pace to move him.
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Old 04-25-2009, 02:48 PM   #10
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Default Re: Having trouble playing against flat hitters!

yep... concentrating on one thing - footwork - will actually provide you with an easy set of rules to play a match without over thinking it, enjoying the battle and you should see some results either way...



if its a two handed backhand player, drop a short angled slice cross court... followed by short angled heavy topspin to the other side... making a flat hitter move inside the court AND wide at the same time is a handy play.... the only reason that flat hitters can manage to control the point is they have got their feet sorted or somewhere near it...

so, if its impossible to rip the ball up high with topspin to the backhand side (which it is here on wet synthetic grass) then the next best option is to slice it shorter and lower and build the point from there... build the point with your topspin from a place where you have forced them to respond to a shot... if it is short and low, then, your opponent will be forced to play on the 'UP' to you which should allow you to dictate in what fashion the rest of the point is played...

dont sacrifice your topspin, like Groove Dude said, you'll only fall into a pattern of play that is not yours...

so, more often than not, it is just case of finding the initial 'play' or 'shape' to allow you to dictate on your terms... its worth spending the time to discover what play opens ups your own prefferred pattern of play... while also understanding, that tennis is an imperfect puzzle that you are trying to solve... to expect perfection when there is two people involve will only take you further away from where you want to be...

TIP: on return game, use a mixture of open faced sliced returns and full blooded drives, using the full blooded topspin drives on 2nd serves or weak 1st's more... shake up the flat hitter's rhythm... flat hitter's are evil... they must be punished... go forth... do damage...
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Old 05-26-2009, 02:44 AM   #11
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Default Re: Having trouble playing against flat hitters!

Honestly when I play against players who hit very flat I try to take them out of their comfort zone by playing a lot of slice backhands and just try to play deep and consistent with my forehand. Playing slice backhands to them is the most logical approach to their game because it is basically psychics you are dealing with here. You aren't going to be able to surpass psychics and hit low floating balls flat and think that they are going to go over the net and drop like topspin does. The only way they can counter this is either take pace off so gravity can take into effect earlier or actually play with topspin and both situations are winners for you.
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Old 05-31-2009, 05:26 AM   #12
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Default Re: Having trouble playing against flat hitters!

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Honestly when I play against players who hit very flat I try to take them out of their comfort zone by playing a lot of slice backhands and just try to play deep and consistent with my forehand. Playing slice backhands to them is the most logical approach to their game because it is basically psychics you are dealing with here. You aren't going to be able to surpass psychics and hit low floating balls flat and think that they are going to go over the net and drop like topspin does. The only way they can counter this is either take pace off so gravity can take into effect earlier or actually play with topspin and both situations are winners for you.
You must be very careful against psychics because they know where you are going to hit the ball. I think he means it's the physics you should focus on.

By the way, being a flat hitter myself, I can tell you that the guys I really hate playing are the hard hitting topspinners. It's simply impossible for me to consistently hit the ball as hard as they do and keep it in since I don't have the spin working to keep the ball in the court, plus the topspin they have gives them more consistency than me. So against good topspinner I end up feeling like they can hit it harder than me and keep it in more. I'd much rather play a flat hitter.
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Old 05-31-2009, 04:43 PM   #13
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Default Re: Having trouble playing against flat hitters!

No problems against these guys, I just beat one yesterday 7-5, 6-1.
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Old 06-01-2009, 05:27 AM   #14
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Default Re: Having trouble playing against flat hitters!



Shall we ask Rafa? Seems he had a little trouble with a flat hitter today. But it took Soderling playing lights-out, super aggressive tennis for four full sets to win. Really terrific match to watch (and I'm neither a Rafa hater nor a fanatic) and I couldn't help but think of this thread and our discussions of topspin vs. flat styles.
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Old 06-01-2009, 10:04 AM   #15
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Default Re: Having trouble playing against flat hitters!

I got wiped off the court the other week against a solid, flat hitter, they can be tough to face. I'd won every set against him in the past but this was one of those matches where I just had nothing in the tank from playing so much tennis beforehand (yep, tiredness excuse ).

I do like playing flat hitters though, and the key to beating them is to be well up for the match and be prepared to chase absolutely everything down. With such high risk tennis they will eventually miss and you can demoralise them by, for example, chasing down their forehand bomb and responding with a low slice to their feet.

Another way of taking them down is to be aggressive yourself. You don't have to stand toe to toe with them necessarily, but use some nice angles and simply don't give them the opportunity to wind up for the big bombs. The thing is with flat hitters, they are so used to being on the offense and usually have gaping holes in their games defensively so if you can find a way to take it to them - especially on your service games, it will pay dividends. A low slice is a great tool to use against them, and if you're going to use heavy topspin, make sure it's either deep (beyond the service line at least) or short and angled.
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