Tennis Strategy Tips
- Find and Attack Opponent Weaknesses:
One of the best strategies is to attack your opponent's weakness. If you know your opponent well, then you probably know his/her weakness. However, if you are playing someone you’ve never played before you don’t really know what to expect. What you can do is, during the warm up, hit a different variety of shots to both forehand and backhand. Give him/her a high topspin shot, or a low slice and see how he/she reacts to the shot. Once you find a weaker side where the person makes a lot of mistakes from, then you can start attacking that side. At that point your game plan should be hitting your shots towards the weaker side. When you can do that, over the course of a match, you’ll win most of the points and the match.
- Doubles Formation:
When do you decide whether you and your partner should play up at the net or back at the baseline on the return game? Yes, you see a lot of doubles matches and you always see at least one if not both players being at the net. There are times when staying back during the return game is a better choice. If you or your partner struggle with the return game and can’t put a good return back, try to play both players back at the baseline. This will take pressure off the returner in trying to hit the perfect return. Having both players play back, they can defend the width of the court and it allows the returner to hit more returns back into play. The more return you can hit back in play, the better chance you have at breaking the serve.
- Shot Pattern:
During a match, every shot you hit should have a purpose. Instead of just hitting the ball back and forth without much direction and purpose, try to think of a pattern of play or combination of shots that suits your game. When you can implement certain pattern of play, your shots will have direction and purpose. For example, you can serve out wide and hit the resulting return wide to the open court. If your forehand is a much stronger side, you can work on running around your backhand and hit inside out forehand to open up the opponent’s forehand side to hit to.
- Doubles Passing Shots:
You’re at the baseline, and your two opponents have now taken the net position. You now feel that there is nowhere to hit the ball pass the net players and you force yourself to hit either a tough angle cross court or blast a shot down the line towards the doubles alley. Instead of forcing yourself to hit past the net players right away, hit your passing shots right down the middle in between the net players. This will force them to make decision on who will hit the volley and more importantly, they don’t have much angle to beat you on the volley. Once you pull both players towards the middle of the court, you now will have wider opening to pass them down the line. Remember, attack the middle and stay away from the angle cross court (unless it’s a winner) because it will only create more angle for your opponents.
- Net Coverage:
When playing singles, most players feel more comfortable staying at the baseline, but there are times when you have to come up to the net and try to close out the point. You work so hard to get to the net and now you want to make sure you position yourself well for the volleys. The rule of thumb is to follow the ball. This means, if your approach shot or first volley is hit towards your opponent’s ad side you want to move to your right a little bit to follow where the ball is going. If you hit the next volley towards the deuce side of your opponent, then you must move to your left side more to follow that ball. It maybe only 2 or 3 small steps, but when you follow the ball, you close down the angle that your opponent has, thus placing yourself in a good position to anticipate the passing shot.
- Return of Serve:
A lot of club level players tend to stand in the same area when returning serves. Different opponents will give you different speed, spin, and location on their serves. To have better success on your return, make sure you vary where you stand on your return of serve according to each opponent. If you play a left handed player, you will want to move to your left a little bit more specially when returning on the ad side. If you play against a big server, you can always go back more to give you more time. Against a weaker serve, make sure you’re moving forward to take advantage of it and be aggressive on the return.
Mix up your serve. Too many players stick with the same serve over and over again. It makes it very predictable for your opponent to return your serve and will actually give them a good rhythm. Practice the 3 S (Speed, Spin, Spot). You should vary your speed, spin, and spot of your serve. When you do that, you are giving the returner different serve each time and making it more unpredictable and harder to return.
- Placement on Your Volleys:
In singles match, make sure you direct your volley to the right places. If you find yourself at the net and your opponent gives you a low volley, hit it back down the line. This will keep you in a much better position for the next volley compared to the cross court reply which will create angle for your opponent to pass you. The rule of thumb is if you can’t put the volley away, then go back down the line. If you have a sitter volley and have the opening to go cross court make sure to put the ball away.