When you want to go to the net, which direction of your approach shot is better?
Cross court or down the line?
There are different opinions about the right direction of the approach shot.
In Spanish traditional drills, you'll learn to play the approach shot always cross court.
The reason for this is that you let your opponent more run than you.
In other European countries and in the US, you'll learn to play the approach shot down the line. The reason for this is that you can cover your court better.
The truth about the direction of the approach shot is somewhere in the middle.
The approach shot down the line is the best option, because in this way you have a good court coverage. The approach shot down the line must be deep, otherwise you give your opponent a large angle for a sharp cross court passing. Also, a deep approach shot gives you more time to approach the net.
But there are a few exceptions, when you can better play your approach shot cross court.
Play your approach shot down the line, with the following exceptions:
1. When your opponent is on the same side of the court as you.
Playing the approach shot cross court means hitting the ball in the open space, and
having a big chance to win the point.
2. When playing to the weak side of your opponent.
It's all about priorities. Despite a positional advantage when you are going down the line,
a cross court approach shot to the weak side of the opponent is often more rewarded.
3. When the contact point of the approach shot is very low. The net is the lowest in the
middle, so playing cross court over the lowest point of the net is much safer.
4. When you want to use variation. Your opponent is expecting the down the line approach
shot, but you want to surprise him.
Don't forget that variation is a deviate from a fixed pattern. When you usually are playing
your approach shots down the line, but the next one suddenly cross court, your opponent
will be surprised and you have more chance to win the point.
5. When your opponent is very predictable with the shot direction of the passing shot, on a
cross court approach shot. For example, your opponent is hitting every passing shot cross
court back on a cross court approach shot. When you are aware of this, it's easy to win the
point with a volley.
Don't be stubborn and choose only one direction for your approach shot the whole time.
Your field coverage is very important. In order to cover your court in the best possible way, play your approach shot down the line. Of course with the exceptions above.
Try out the different shot directions of your approach shot and try to recognize the situations when you better can play your approach shot cross court.
Good luck and improve your net game!