Get Ready for Each Shot
What happens if you don’t make it up to the non-volley zone line and get caught in mid-court? This isn’t the area you’d like to be, but it doesn’t matter where you are on the court — still at the baseline, halfway up to the non-volley zone line, or waiting there: the moment your opponent’s paddle makes contact with the ball, assume the ready position. Really do this! Don’t just think, oh, I can just stop moving. Put your paddle up and in front of you. Keep your weight on the balls of your feet and be ready to move, keeping your eye on the ball. Then, after you hit the ball, head for the non-volley zone as soon as it’s safe to do so.
Find the Right Ready Position
The ready position most people are familiar with is with your feet about shoulder width apart, knees bent slightly, your weight on the balls of your feet, and your paddle pointing toward the net so that you are ready to move to your forehand or backhand, depending on how the ball comes to you. This position comes from tennis where the court is large and there is more time between your opponent’s hit and your return. Using this ready position is fine when you’re at the baseline, but it may not be the best choice when you are up at the non-volley zone.
This close to the net, there often isn’t time to move from this ready position and make contact with a shot coming at you quickly, especially a volley. Try this instead:
Hold your paddle in the backhand position up in front of your chest. This way, you can return most shots by simply rotating the paddle. If the ball comes to your forehand side, just rotate your body toward the ball and you’ll be able to reach the forehand volley.
Call the score
just before you serve—not while you’re serving and not too far ahead of the serve. Call the score—then leave a few seconds for any questions or corrections before starting the serve. Doing this alerts all the players that you are preparing to serve the ball. Calling the score while you serve is very distracting to you and your opponents and is considered to be poor etiquette on the court. You’ll find that anything occurring while you serve will cause you to serve out of bounds, into the net, or otherwise to serve poorly.