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Essential Shots
 
Even experienced players sometimes overlook how important the basics are to building a solid, reliable game. Below are shots every player should have in their tool kit.
 
Note: Videos included below are provided as a way to help visualize the various shots. They are not intended as a substitute for in-person lessons and coaching.
 

 
Serve
 
At the recreational level (where most of us play every day) you need three different serves to be competitive. Each type serve offers you the flexibility to begin influencing the point right from the start. Master them before you start trying more technically difficult serves.
 
 

 
Serve Return (Soft)
 
A fast paced service return may feel great but it can put you and your partner in a tough spot. You are taking all the risk (long/into net) plus it makes it much easier for your opponent to return with an equally fast shot before you can get to the NVZ. Go slow to go fast.
 
 

 
3rd Shot
 
Be honest. When serving, how often do you and your partner actually discuss the third shot and how you plan to use it? If you don't, you are missing a golden opportunity to off-set the receiving team's advantage. The purpose of the “3d shot” is to buy time and help the serving team get to the NVZ line. Remember, the receiving team has the advantage of already having one player at the NVZ line.
 
 

 
Cross Court Dink
 
Cross court shots let you begin to shape the point without taking a big risk. It also offers your partner the opportunity to jump in at perfect moment.
 
 

 
Block
 
Block shots allow you to reset/slow down the tempo of the point. Block shots are like jujitsu, the “gentle art” that allows a weaker opponent to gain advantage over a stronger opponent. Remember, when an opponent crushes the ball their balance is affected and they can often become vulnerable to an off-speed return.
 
Block Shot Drill
 
 

 
Lob Return
 
A lob is an intentional tool a team can use to buy time, reset the point, and get out of a jam. The return of a lob can be an equally impactful tool when done properly. Video below offers a solid look at the fundamentals for returning a lob.