Rallying is when you and a partner hit the ball back and forth cooperatively. It is a really fun and rhythmical way to practice your strokes. There are a few keys to rallying that we will talk about in this tip and a couple of unfortunate human attributes as well. To rally is to be cooperative, not antagonistic.
You can rally straight ahead or cross-court – one of the keys to rallying is finding rhythm with your practice partner. If you like to hit really hard but they can’t handle the speed then back off a bit. If you are hitting too slow and they can’t time it very well maybe try hitting a bit faster. If your rallies are only lasting one or two hits something is wrong. You should be able to have 10, 20 or 30 shot rallies.
Another key to rallying is that both players are using similar arc over the net. Don’t hit the ball super high and don’t skim the net either, hitting through a window that is one to two meters above the net is perfect for thinking about the right height. Both or your shots should proscribe an arc as you hit it back and forth. Remember: in tennis arc = depth and depth is a good thing.
A weird by-product of being a good rally-er is by learning how to be a bit lazy. If your opponent’s shot is short and you run quickly in to get it you have changed the dynamic of the rally and it now looks and smells like a point. When the professionals on tv are rallying they don’t run for those short balls when they are warming up. They are practicing hitting the ball from a specific area of the court (example: the baseline, so they stay on the baseline). Let it bounce twice and hit it back deep and keep the rally going with the same rhythm. Yes, in a game you must get it on one bounce. Yes, the rule is one bounce when you play. But remember you are searching for rhythm when you rally, it’s not necessarily the time to scramble and run flat out for short balls.
So to be a good rally practice partner you need the following:
1. A calm practice mentality/don’t play the point
2. A nice, smooth 3rd gear swing
3. Good arc – aim through a 2nd story window
4. Finish each swing. Each of you are at the baseline, so there is plenty of time.
You may need a coach as your rally partner initially. They will keep it going and hit the ball to your hitting area. Use the coach to learn to rally if you are having difficulty keeping the ball going with your friends.