At clinics, I start off with “How to win the point on the first three shots!”
During the first session of bootcamp, which is live play, I get an idea of participants’ style of play, including what’s going on during those first three shots.
After a couple of games, I’ll give everyone FOUR LETTERS to quickly improve their games. (Yes! Just four letters to quickly improve their games!)
I pull everyone together, and recommend RR and SS.
RR stands for RETURN & RUSH – when you’re returning the serve, you should rush to the line to join your partner at the Kitchen!
Points are won and lost at the line, and you want to do everything you can to be the only team at the line and put pressure on the serving team!
RR is the easy one – most players do whatever they can (typically a deep return) so they can easily join his or her partner at the Kitchen!
SS is a bit more complicated – it stands for SERVE & STAY.
You probably already know you have to wait for the bounce before taking the third shot, but I’m NOT talking about serving and then staying behind the baseline!
I’m referring to serving and staying with YOUR PARTNER!
Often, a player will see his or her partner take the third shot, and then rush to the line!
Sometimes this works! But most of the time, not so much…
Imagine that your partner hits a bad drop – he or she is probably still near the baseline, you’re at the Kitchen, and your opponents have a lot of options!
There’s that huge gap between you and your partner; there’s the option to keep your partner pinned back at the baseline; there’s a lot of empty space next to you that your opponents can exploit!
That’s why I recommend when your side is SERVING, it’s a good idea to STAY with your partner, and move up to the line together.
And how do you determine how to move up to the Kitchen together?
If your partner is taking the third shot, he or she has the point, and your partner determines how much to advance to the line; if you take the third shot, you have the point, and your partner should follow your lead.
So SERVE STAY wasn’t just about the third shot! It’s actually the fifth, or seventh, or maybe even the ninth shot!