I have been avoiding writing this article
for sometime now due to the complexity of the subject. Teaching
someone how to anticipate is not something that can easily
be done. Learning to anticipate your opponent's next shot
is something that you need to teach yourself. The more you
play tennis the better you get at learning to anticipate.
For some players anticipation comes naturally
to them. Luckily I am one of those players and it has paid
off in large dividends for me on the court. Although I am
good at anticipating I still will not be able to teach you
how to do it. I can however give you some basics and list
some items you need to consider to improve your anticipation.
Anticipating your opponent's shots is something
that happens very quickly. You do not have time to determine
where you "think" your opponent is going to hit the ball.
You need to trust your instincts and start moving. There are
several factors in anticipating your opponent's shots. All
of these needs to be calculated in a matter of split seconds.
Below are just a few factors to consider:
1. Where your opponent is in the court
and where you currently are in the court.
2. Where you hit the ball and how
you hit the ball.
3. Which side of your opponent you
4. How much angle you hit on the ball
and what angles that opened up for your opponent to hit.
5. What direction your opponent favors
to hit the ball.
6. How quickly your opponent got to
7. What kind of shot your opponent
looks like he/she is winding up to hit (topspin, slice, flat)
8. Your weaker side.
9. What surface you are playing on.
There is so much to think about that is can
be mind boggling. Above are just some of the factors you will
need to consider to anticipate correctly. Obviously you do
not have time to stop and think about these things which is
why it is a must that you trust your instincts in these situations.
I wish I had a secret to learning anticipation but it is just
something you need to teach yourself. Study your opponent
in warm up, study them during your match and notice any tendencies
they might have. Keep a mental list of which side they have
been attacking and where they like to hit their winners. Remember
this though. Anticipation is trusting your instincts, but
our instincts are not always right. There is no 100% guaranteed
that you will guess right. The better you get at it though
the higher the percentage you will guess right and the more
pressure you will put on your opponent.
I have played many players who were not
fast players yet they could get to just about every ball I
hit. They were able to anticipate the situation, trust their
instincts and move to where they thought I might hit the ball.
Learn to evaluate the situation and trust your instincts,
if you can do both you will be anticipating your opponent's
Good Luck on the