Practice 8

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Practice 8- Boast & Crosscourt
Practising the crosscourt from the backcourt is easy to do during the knock-up (see Practice 1: The Practice Knock-up Issue 2004/2). Practising the crosscourt from the frontcourt is simple.
In this diagonal practice Player A in front crosscourts while B in the back boasts. (At an intermediate level the backcourt player may let the ball bounce twice or quickly throw or pat it off the back wall before boasting it.)
Player A in the front will try to get his shots grooved into a target area. Start by targeting the side wall behind the service box for the ball to bounce on the floor and then rebound off the back for Player B to drive or volley straight and then boast. Ideally the ball will die on the backwall or force a boast. After a while you will see how effective your shots are: if Player B cannot straighten your crosscourt off the back and it is forcing a boast, it is doing the job well.
Player A has a number of additional target areas. There is also a dying length shot aimed for the nick behind the service box; a high, wider crosscourt to give recovery time and to beat the volley; and also the lob.
Part of the accuracy of your shots comes from the set-up so to gain the most from your practice move back from each shot and then into a new set-up position each time. You can practise striking the ball off either foot on the forehand, as you will have to do this in a game, but perhaps with the closed stance first (left foot forward for a right-hander) as this will put the body in the best position.
Set up, pause fractionally, waiting until the ball is at the best impact position, and then strike. Watch your shots as you back-pedal and adjust the next one back and forth on the wall and get it grooved into your target area.
Player B should step back (swivelling out of the boast set-up position), step towards the short line and take a step towards the T. Practise moving in and out of this forward-facing position and turning to the back corner each time. Get grooved into one type of boast. Try to get the two wall boast that dies before the side working first with various paces and angles before moving to the three-wall or nick boast.
From near the T Player B can attempt a straight volley intercept and then quickly move back to play the boast when necessary.
This Practice falls into four parts: Player A practising a forehand crosscourt, backhand crosscourt, forehand boast and backhand boast. A ten-minute practice would therefore allow two-and-a-half minutes on each part. It is an important practice: if your crosscourt is not working well in a game you will know how to adjust and vary it.
1. Player B boasts,
2. Player A cross-courts,
3. Player B boasts and so on.
The width of the crosscourt can be tested by B attemping to intercept on the volley. Player B should move from a central position on the T.

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