Percentages, solid arsenal off back wall provide edge.
Before getting into specific shots, you should divide the court into gridlike reference areas, horizontally and vertically.
As Figure 1 indicates, the two side lanes are 40 feet by 6 feet, and the center lane is 40 feet by 8 feet.
Figure 2 shows the basic offensive and defensive zones, with the offensive zone being the 25 feet of the court in front of the restraining line for the service receiver, while the defensive zone is the 15 feet of the court behind the restraining line.
Next is to categorize the most common situations a player encounters and then select the most appropriate return. Let's consider only back-wall returns, starting with those taken in the center lane.
When this happens, your opponent has made a mistake. But you must quickly determine how big a mistake: Will the ball rebound into the offensive or defensive zone?
Once you've made this determination, where should you direct your shot?
Let's start with the back-wall returns hit from a position inside the defensive zone. However, it's important to note that the offensive and defensive zones are not the same for every player. Clearly, a skilled tournament player with a great back-wall shot may have a larger offensive zone than the one defined in Figure 2. Likewise, a player who struggles with back-wall shots may have a much larger defensive zone.
Also, there are times when your opponent's floor position may play a part in determining the offensive and defensive zones. If your opponent regularly rushes to the front court when you have a back-wall opportunity, you'll want to lengthen the defensive zone. Conversely, if your opponent lays back in the deep court, you can lengthen the offensive zone.
A back-wall return from the center lane's defensive zone should be hit so it angles from the front wall into a side wall. We refer to this as a "shallow V" return. The appropriate height at which the shallow V impacts the front wall will be determined by your power, but for most players the ideal height is 5 or 6 feet from the floor. From the center lane, the appropriate angle will be created if you hit the front wall 5 or 6 feet from the side wall.
The shallow V should carom from the front wall to the side wall in the air. Your opponent's strong hand will be the determining factor as to the side wall toward which you'll direct the shallow V (Figures 3 and 4).
If the back-wall return is taken in the center lane's offensive zone, your appropriate shot will be determined by your opponent's position on the court. The theory is simple: When your opponent is positioned to your right, shoot to the left. And if your opponent is positioned to your left, shoot to the right.
Corner kills that end up to the opposite side of the court from your opponent's floor position are another option for this offensive opportunity (Figures 5 and 6).
A back-wall shot taken in one of the side lane's defensive zones and very close to a side wall should be hit across the court so it angles from the front into the side wall farthest from your position (Figures 7 and 8). This shot is called the "big V."
Like the shallow V, this shot should also carom into the side wall before contacting the floor. The ideal height will again correspond to your power, but most players will need to hit the big V higher on the front wall than the shallow V, about 7 to 10 feet from the floor.
Due to the sharper angle, the big V should also hit the front wall somewhere between 6 and 8 feet from the side wall you want it to contact in the air.
On occasion, back-wall returns in the side lane of your offhand (the left lane for a right-handed player) will be far enough from the side wall that they can be hit with your strong hand. When the ball is 2 feet or more away in a side lane's defensive zone, a shallow V hit back into the same lane is recommended (Figures 9 and 10).
Back-wall returns taken in a side lane's offensive zone may present kill opportunities in the same lane (Figures 11 and 12).
Back-wall returns taken with your off hand from the side lanes will shrink your offensive zone. Every player must know his ability to shoot with his off hand. For many, the offensive zone will be from the short line forward with the offhand, and it might even shrink to the service line.
Remember to take your personal percentage of success into consideration when determining the offensive and defensive zones for both hands, as well as your opponent's floor position.
By Mike Dau
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|Date:||Aug 1, 2018|
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