Before developing a game dependent on strategy first a player must have the strokes
that will get the ball over the net. Hitting with depth is the second necessity.
Limiting the number of options is the third. Overall strategy and point-to-point
tactics are over rated for most players.
are basic five things that a player can do to his opponent from the baseline;
to your opponent's left)
his feet) and
means devising a realistic game plan which forces you to evaluate your own game
and to learn how to scout and play your opponent. For a beginner the first and
most basic rule is to get it "Down the middle and deep". This works
on any type of surface or conditions. It helps you win by (1)(Keeping your opponent
hitting from behind the baseline; (2) the net is 5 1/2" lower in the middle
that at the singles sideline giving you less chance for error; (3) you can concentrate
more confidently on the stroke because you are not gambling with the sidelines;
(4) By hitting down the middle you reduce the length of the diagonal available
to your opponent if he wants to hit crosscourt. The problem with hitting down
the middle is an opponent with a strong shot can step around and hit from his
strength every time. It is important to remember if you can keep it going deep
enough you will still come out ahead. Once you get better at this strategy you
can play slightly to his weaker side.
Most players do not own any shot, one that they can hit consistently from anywhere
on the court to any position, so worrying about a strategy complicates their game.
They must deal with stroke production and not having the shot to fulfill the strategy.
It is better for the beginner to just hit the ball correctly.
ATTACK THE NET AT EVERY OPPORTUNITY
No matter how good you get hitting DOWN the MIDDLE and DEEP should remain a fundamental
aspect of your strategy. A basic law in the jungle is that the advanced player
will attack the net at every opportunity and the intermediate will wait for the
first short ball before going in. Anticipation is a key element in the development
of an advanced player. An intermediate will often hit and back up or hesitate
too long when getting his opponent in trouble or sensing when a ball will be short.
The average player is average because he seldom hits the ball deep. In fact against
most players the odds are that the next ball or every other ball will be short
so you should anticipate this probability and be inside the baseline expecting
a short ball.
Good tennis is a game of opportunities, it is a game of closing out a point and
not letting your opponent keep playing. This means you must fight to get to the
net. The best shot to come in behind is a deep shot that keeps your opponent pinned
behind the baseline. If you can develop the confidence to take the short ball
and hit an approach shot and volley and come in you will find you anticipate always
moving forward rather than naturally staying back. Your opponent will feel this
pressure and this will affect his concentration and rhythm of his swing and he
will produce errors.
2. PLAY THE PERCENTAGES
The advanced player strives for consistency and to reduce errors understanding
that more points are lost than won in a match. When points are combined of both
players errors always out number winners. Understanding this percentage the one
who produces more errors always loses. To reduce errors you must simplify your
strategy. Keep the ball deep and safe and stay ready and in anticipation for short
Your opponent can only hit to a few areas as can you. The more creative you get
the more chance for errors. Statistics show that someone is about to make an error,
limit your chances by following the percentages, deep and down the middle.
When forced by a tough shot hit a ball that has the highest percentage of staying
in the court and keeping you in the point. When behind find a way to stay in the
point by getting ball back over the net and deep. Trying for a winner to get you
out of trouble is not a percentage play, it is a gamble and not a good one. If
you are winning keep winning by doing exactly the same thing that produced your
advantage. Trying something new or something you do not own will only allow the
momentum to switch. When the momentum switches sometimes all you can do is watch
it go right out from under you. Don't let this happen by testing your skill with
fancy circus shots in a match. Follow the Just Win Strategy, practice the new
UNDER PRESSURE PLAY THE RIGHT SHOT
Pressure has a way of making any player play a SAFE ball. What generally happens
is it throws off his entire bio-mechanics of stroke production and control. This
causes the ball to SIT UP and boom the point is over because your opponent is
generally playing from behind and thus more aggressively. This is called "CHOKING"
knowing what to do but not doing because of the courage to hit the right shot.
Instead of thinking about winning the match and knowing the pressure of the point
or the game the advanced player must remember what will get him to victory, and
that is consistency and aggressiveness.
WHEN FORCED GET THE BALL UP
On a baseline rally one player will get pulled wide which forces him to either
try to blast the ball back hoping for a winner or produce an error. The best way
to buy time and to get back into the point is to elevate this shot 10 to 12 feet
above the net to get you back in to the point and change the momentum. Even if
the player has is attacking the net which he should do making sure that at least
you force him to hit a good volley. By elevating your shot you naturally increase
the top spin and unless your opponent is at the net he may have to hit up and
over the net which is the most difficult volley. If you see him coming to the
net it is not a difficult adjustment to lift the ball even higher for a topspin
lob which is your next best option. If he stays on the baseline he will have to
wait for the ball and see his opportunity diminish get frustrated and most likely
try for too much and miss the ball long or into the net. By getting the ball back
without the pace it also forces his mechanics to be better along with his concentration.
By him not advancing on this opportunity he will feel aggravated by your ability
to return his best shot.
BREAKDOWN YOUR OPPONENT'S RHYTHM
If you are playing someone who likes pace hit them soft high balls that they have
to prepare for differently. It is not necessary to play a pretty game to win.
For example most two handers like the ball in the strike zone where they can use
the natural fluid body movement and hit solid ground strokes. If you can avoid
this area by hitting short and low and then hit topspin deep and high it forces
them to adjust to the variances and thus gets them out of their natural rhythm.
The basic idea is hit shots that your opponent does not want to hit. Determining
what your opponent does not like is quite easy, what produces errors and what
makes him angry and frustrated. Understand what shots produce power and which
ones do not. Balls hit deep and high to either side with topspin are difficult
to return because they re out of the power zone of the body. The player must hit
them with almost all arm or take them on the rise both of which shots are physically
tough to execute and return deep and strong.
OVERPLAY TO YOUR OPPONENT'S STRONG SHOT.
When your opponent has a great forehand and a weak backhand do not let him win
with his strength. Anticipate the shot and force him to hit it better than he
is capable of by overplaying to the appropriate side. In this case if he hits
flat forehands overplay to cross court side forcing him to hit closer to the line
or down the line over a higher net. A flat forehand is hit with a horizontal swing
which is more difficult to execute down the line for many reasons. Understanding
this you can also frustrate this shot by sending him backhand slice to his forehand
that stays low and pulls away. This will cause him more difficulty and produce
more errors on his better side and thus frustrate him and open up his weaker side
for any order of shot.
HIT CROSS COURT GROUND STROKES
On the forehand the tendency is to hit down the line to the backhand corner for
the right handers from the baseline. It is much safer to go cross court for these
reasons; the net is lower in the middle than on the sides, the court is longer,
you give yourself more time, and you tempt your opponent to hit the tougher return.
The net is 5 1/2 inches lower than on the singles sideline and the court is 78
lf down the line where as it is 82 1/2 lf on the diagonal cross court shot. This
depending upon the speed, spin and angle of the shot cause the probability of
error to go up proportionately. In addition based upon the law of incident and
reflective angles it requires less control to return a ball back upon the path
of its origin. This is because when a ball is arriving at the racquet on a diagonal
it tends to deflect off the racquet at an angle in direct relation to the angle
of its approach.
There is no margin for safety when you go down the line; what looks to be an easy
shot is not. It is a lower percentage play and must be hit with more control.
Any deficiency will produce an error wide because or the angle of reflection,
into the net because of the force of gravity and the height of the net, and long
because of the shorter distance and the need for a more precise impact and topspin
to control the flight of the ball.
If your opponent hits the ball to the backhand corner the easiest shot in the
game is to hit a straight ball cross-court. It is a natural tendency to pull across
the body and hit the ball on the diagonal. It takes a more talented player to
hit a straight ball straight. Unless this tougher shot is executed perfectly you
are now forcing yourself to move a larger number of steps in a shorter amount
of time to cover a return. This is first caused because your momentum holds you
on the sideline or out of the court when you hit down the line. Secondly you must
be aware that any return will keep you dangerously far behind the baseline and
out of position if you are unable to advance to the net in the form of an approach
shot. Percentage play dictates that you work to get the short ball and come into
the net and close out the point not hit tough winners from the baseline through
a more difficult window.
HIT WITH PURPOSE
Advanced players understand that more shots are lost than won. Understanding this
enables them to avoid the high risk shots while hitting strong and consistent
with a purpose. On a high level it is very difficult to have an open court to
hit into. What seems open is only there for an instance. The more important strategy
is being able to hit the right shot at the right time and it does not matter if
the opponent is out of position or not. The shot itself will either produce an
error or lead to a short ball and thus an opportunity to close out the point.
PLAY WITH A GAME PLAN
A match is a long arduous struggle that has a momentum and changes. Seldom does
a match result in the complete destruction of an opponent if they are of equal
ability. Generally play is determined by subtle strengths and weaknesses in mental
toughness or physical fitness. Being evenly matched in ability at the beginning
of a match does not always mean by the end of the match it will be the same. Some
especially junior players will hit out until they are worn out physically. Other
players will run their opponents into the ground until they are unable to lift
their arms. This is the essence of strategy.
Most great offensive players have exception serves, volleys overheads and approach
shots. To meet such an adversary is formidable and you must work to get the points
to last. The defensive player in this scenario is working to stay in the game
and tire this offensive opponent. Keeping the ball in play and keeping a player
like this away from the net will allow the defensive player to make a game of
it. Trying for return winners and clean passing shots will only make the loss
quicker. By getting each serve back into play you increase your chances of breaking
him and keeping him working and using up his energy. Hitting hard returns may
be exactly what you should not do. Find away to get the ball over the net and
below it before he hits his approach or first volley. This will make him hit up
and allow you the time you need to hit a offensive lob or passing shots. It is
also imperative that you come to the net to keep this player honest and to keep
aggressive. An opponent that knows you will not come into the net has a built
in advantage that will result in an unfair advantage. No player has unlimited
energy and in a 3 to 4 hour match many things can happen, much more than in a
1 hour match.
With a defensive player it sometimes is amazing the length they will go to to
stay in a point. They run down everything and everything comes back. It can be
very frustrating to have opportunity after opportunity lost by a player that digs
out a ball and sends it by you or over you. Going for winners, aces and hitting
harder is what this player is hoping you will do. Generally a defensive player
is well conditioned and willing to stay out and hit all day. They thrive on your
pace and power and like a target to hit at. If you have the shots from the baseline
to relax and hit deep high bouncing lobs or ground strokes it can totally unnerve
many of these defensive wizards as they lose the concept of what they are meant
to do. By changing from a hard hitter to a moon baller you can get more short
balls and find that the topspin that was so effective as passing shots are now
sitters awaiting your approach and put away volleys.
What works at the beginning of the match may not be the ultimate source of winning
or losing. During the course of the match players find certain shots that were
unavailable at the beginning of the match or lose some that were. The advanced
player watches what his opponent does and keeps a record as to what he is avoiding.
If the player is running around the backhand and hitting winners that gives him
two options keep hitting to the backhand corner or start to work the forehand
more even though this player may have a much better forehand.
The serve may fade and most of the time a big server will lose the punch he had
in the first and second sets. This allows you to be more aggressive on return.
On your serve you may find that just spinning the ball deep is more effective
than a flat serve. Your physical conditioning may require you to go for winners
because you must or you will lose because of cramps or exhaustion.
A player may stop hitting topspin backhands and return slices cross-court. This
will allow a player to come to the net more. A slice must go slower through the
air because of the spin of the shot. Under pressure it will generally sit up a
bit and is an easy volley at a close net position. So the defensive player can
attack if he is aware of this change in play by his opponent. A player may also
lose his feel for the forehand sitting back on the back foot hitting long or to
the net. The pressures of trying to close out points quickly can produce mental
errors and as the match wears on deficiencies will become much clearer and more
BASICS OF SOUND STRATEGY
Every shot is very important because it could be your last.
B. Anticipate opportunities and hit the first short ball.
C. Instinctively want to move forward not back.
D. Mentally know that you are here for the whole match.
E. Forget the winners that your opponent hit just play.
F. Buy time at every opportunity so you can be prepared to hit.
G. Get all your serves in deep. The first puts pressure on the returner the second
on the Server
H. Keep the ball down the middle and deep consistently
I. Swing through your shots don't shorten your swing if you hit long at first.
J. Keep moving and aware of your balance.
K. Strive to hit technically correct shots during the match.
L. Visualize your shots as you hit them, mental pictures produce physical results.
percentages below are realistic levels of stroke production of an Advanced player.
DEPTH, PLACEMENT AND POWER.
Serve 2nd S Forh Back For-A Bac-A ForV B-Volley
Consistency 60% 90% 90% 85% 90% 80% 90% 85%
Depth 83% 83% 75% 70% 80% 70% 75% 70%
Placement 67% 67% 75% 65% 70% 60% 75% 65%
Power 40% 50% 65% 50% 60% 50% 65% 50%