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Defending Your Court: Defending with Your Speed
By:  Scott Baker | Tennis4you  | Tennis Forum  | E-mail

..."against the experts in defense, the enemy does not know where to attack". - Sun TZU, "The Art of War"

Foot speed alone will not make you a good defensive player in the game of tennis. However, if you use your speed in conjunction with the other aspects of good defensive play your speed can be a very powerful weapon. The faster you are the more you force your opponent(s) to try and execute their offensive shots with better precision and more pace. Your speed will also directly effect how many balls you can force your opponent to hit in any given rally. Moving quickly also has the capability to make certain offensive shots hit by your opponent seem like average shots. The faster you are able to move the more effective your game will be if you use your speed to your advantage and know what it can really do for you. By moving quickly around the court you immediately put extra pressure on your opponent. You get to shots quicker, allowing your opponent less time to get into a stronger position. You will also get yourself in a better position to hit the ball with more time to adjust for each shot. This pressure can force your opponent to try and hit harder, aim closer to the lines, or rush hitting the ball all of which often draw errors. This pressure can be very frustrating to opponents who are not used to playing quicker players and can even force certain opponents to crumble all together.

Another advantage of speed is the fact that you get to several balls forcing your opponent to hit more balls than they would typically have to against a slower player. Your quickness can really test a player's patience and consistency. If your opponent is inconsistent and can only hit a few shots in the court before they miss, your speed will help you to retrieve the ball to get it back in the court and wait for the error. The more balls that you force your opponent to hit, the more likely the chance that they will hit an error or a weaker shot that you can take advantage of.

My favorite aspect of speed is being able to turn a routine defensive play into an offensive play. If you can get to the ball early enough you will have more time to set up and offensively execute the ball and turn the tables to be on the offensive end of the point with just one or two shots.

Some players are naturally faster than others. Certain players move to one side or the other faster, or perhaps they run side to side quicker than forward and back or vise-versa. Whichever category you fall into there is always room for improvement. One of the major aspects of speed is not only how fast you can run, but how fast you can start running and also how fast you can stop and turn around and start running. Conditioning, training and drills can help you improve your speed. Find the drills that will help you to develop the areas that you lack in and work on these drills. Work on your speed and see the awesome effects it can have on your game!

Good Luck on the Court!
Scott Baker
Tennis4you.com