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Strokes - hitting on the rise

Hitting on the rise means hitting the ball as it's coming up off the bounce. Taking the ball early this way offers several advantages:

  • Most important: your opponent has less time to react.
  • You cut off your opponent's angles earlier so that you have less court to cover.
  • Being closer to the net can help you hit sharper angles.
  • You prevent your opponent from kicking the ball above your comfort zone.
  • The ball has slightly more incoming speed when it hits your strings and thus slightly more rebound speed.
If hitting on the rise were easy, most players would almost always do it, but it requires excellent timing, early preparation, and accurate positioning. Here are a few tips that will help you develop this valuable skill:

backhand

Key points:

Assume a right-handed hitter.

  • Grip: Use the same grip you would for any other backhands you would meet at a relatively low height. (A few players switch grips for very high balls.) The grip used is a full Eastern backhand.
  • Footwork: Most players hit a one-handed backhand best in a fairly square stance. Try to get positioned onto the line of the ball's flight early, then turn square and move forward a few steps while sideways. Take a long, final step with your right foot just before you swing. This will get you lower and more forward. As you swing with most of your weight on your right foot, you will probably find that letting your lightly weighted left foot slide forward enhances the forward momentum of your swing.
  • Backswing: You will usually have time to use a backswing of your accustomed length, but when you're rushed, such as when the ball lands deeper than you expect, a shorter backswing will get your racquet to the point of contact sooner.
  • Swing path: The timing required to hit on the rise is difficult enough for most players that they don't want to complicate it by trying to hit heavy spin. On balls that aren't too high, it's easiest to swing mostly forward and a little upward, as you would for a slight topspin. Some heavy topspin hitters will force you to meet the ball fairly high even when you're hitting on the rise. The higher the ball gets, the more time you would have to execute topspin, but for most players, hitting a one-handed backhand with topspin at a high point of contact is awkward at best. On such balls, backspin might be the easiest solution, but don't try to cut too sharply downward. Backspin is naturally enhanced by hitting on the rise, because the ball coming up across the string bed has the same effect as the strings brushing down across the ball, so a slight downward cut will yield more than slight backspin.
  • Point of contact: Try to meet the ball farther forward than your front foot. Generally, meeting the ball farther forward gives you more linear momentum and a better look at the ball. You can choose your favorite height at which to meet the ball through your positioning, timing, and point of contact. The lower you like to meet the ball, the more you should move forward to meet it closer to its bounce. 
  • Follow through: The flatter, more linear swing typically used for hitting on the rise results in a more forward follow through.