The Soft Block
By Carl Danner

Punching blocks hard can be effective, but shouldn’t be your only technique. You can also win points with a soft, low block.

Practice this stroke by absorbing the force of the shot, and aiming it low over the net. Done well, it produces a ball with little momentum or spin, giving an attacking opponent neither the depth nor the underspin he needs to loop the ball hard. It’s a great way to slow down a rally.

After a good soft block you can often look for your opponent to reply with a gently lifted topspin, or a chop. Either way, it’s worth staying light on your feet and looking to step right into your own forehand for the next shot.