However, your first step towards the ball may actually limit the type of shot you can hit.
Take a look at the first illustration on the left.
This shows a player at position A moving in a straight line to hit a ball at position B. There are several bad consequences from moving directly at the ball:
- Most likely you will be moving too close to the ball.
- You have no time to pivot and set-up facing the side wall.
- You cannot hit the ball down the line.
- You cannot hit a pinch shot into the right corner.
- You can only hit the ball cross court directly towards your opponents position.
- You cannot see your opponent’s position.
Whenever I see someone running straight into the ball, I pretty much know where they will have to hit it – cross court! They will not be able to hit a winner down the line or a pinch shot. And on top of that, they will be completely blind to my current position.
So how do we fix this awful situation?
Take a look at the second illustration.
The proper way to move towards the ball is to circle or to flank the ball. This movement will allow you to get to the side of the ball.
Here are the advantages of circling the ball:
- From the side position, you can hit all three important shots: down the line, pinch, and cross court.
- From this side position, you can take a quick glance and see your opponents position.
- You can now play the correct shot based on your opponents position.
- You are less likely to jam yourself by getting too close to the ball.
So if you have a lot of trouble hitting clean, down the line shots, most likely it is a consequence of taking that first step straight towards the ball instead of circling the ball.