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Written by isma   
Thursday, 21 June 2007
Being a successful offensive player doesn't always depend on how hard you hit the ball. Like a big-league pitcher who keeps batters off balance, you can frustrate defenses with a variety of differing speeds and locations. Remember, the ball is hard to dig if your opponent can't touch it!

Here are three rules of thumb that we can use:

1.        Always give your opponent the same look whether you're hitting or making a shot. If you go half-speed to use a shot, your opponents will see it coming.

2.        When the set is in the air during your approach, try to take a look at the opponent's court. Then look back up at the ball to hit.

3.        You don't have to crush the ball to put it away. The following tips are designed to work with finesse instead of power. My philosophy is, "Hit for show, shoot for dough!"

When in Doubt, Hit the Divorce Maker

The divorce maker, or deep middle shot, is the one you can almost always rely on. It's especially effective when nobody is blocking or the blocker is retreating. Ideally, you should hit this one pretty hard, but it can still be effective if you don't because the defending partners will have trouble communicating who should go for it. Most defenders don't position themselves in the deep middle. So if you're in trouble, go to the "old reliable."

The Cut-Back and Chop-Back

Here are two shots that defenders never expect. The cut-back and chop-back are essentially the same shot but from different sides. Use these when the blockers have retreated and the set is more towards the middle of the net.The cut-back (above) is executed from the left side (cutting back across your body to the line) and the chop-back (below) from the right side (chopping away from your body back to the line).For both shots, begin to swing as if you're going to crush the ball. Then change your arm swing, and hit an off-speed shot towards the line with an inside-out trajectory. The ball should drop just past the 10-foot line and about 12 inches from the sideline.

The Deep Loopy Teaser

Use this shot when the blocker has pulled off the net and is retreating to the cross-court or the cross-court digger is playing shallow. Take your normal approach as if you're going to hit, thereby freezing the defense. Then hit up at the ball, looping it into the deep corner. But don't give the ball too much arc, or the defense will track it down. It should land just outside the reach of the defender,leaving him tired and demoralized.

The Super Dink

Use the super dink when nobody's up and you get a tight set. It's also great when the set is tight and low and you can't take a full swing. My old partner, beach legend John Carman, was the best I ever saw at the super dink. The trick is to let your knuckles cushion the ball rather than poking up at it. Use your knuckles almost like an indoor player would use his fingertips on a dink. Just drop it gently over the net for the kill.

The Tap Down

The tap-down is great to use when the blocker is up and the set's tight. The bigger the blocker, the better it works. Take a half swing, but don't follow through. Aim for the outside of the block, hit the ball low to the net, and try to squeak it by the blocker's elbow.Ideally, the ball will either make it by the block and land in or bounce off the arm of the blocker and go out of bounds. But always be ready to cover yourself. If you get blocked, it should be easy to cover because you'll have hit it softly.Remember not to hit the ball so it lands out if the blocker doesn't touch it. In other words, never aim to miss the court. The tap-down will turn an otherwise tough situation to your advantage.

The Side-Spin Perplexor

This shot is similar to the chop-back, but it's used by right-handers against a blocker. Convince the defense that you're going to hit angle by taking an inward approach. Then, at the last second, rotate your wrist and arm away from your body, turning the ball down the line.When you do this, the ball will end up spinning a little more sideways than a typical topspin hit. Hit it with some pace so you can get it by the blocker before he realizes he has been fooled.If you perform the side-spin perplexor correctly, you'll see the blocker shaking his head in amazement (Jim Nichols)


Last Updated ( Saturday, 21 July 2007 )
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