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How to Play Against Tall Players
By:  Scott Baker | Tennis4you  | Tennis Forum  | E-mail

Tall tennis players have some nice advantages in the game of tennis. They have great reach, usually better serves, tougher to pass at the net and more. However, they have their weaknesses as well.

Tall player's weaknesses are usually the short player's strengths, and the short players weaknesses are usually the tall player's strengths. For example: balls that bounce higher do not affect tall players as much as they affect shorter players for the simple reason that taller players have a higher comfortable strike zone.

There are always players who will defy the basics and play well in all aspects no matter what the height or physical condition, like Venus Williams who is extremely fast despite her height. However, we will look at the generalizations and hopefully they can help you in the future. First off we will talk about movement. The tallest players can tend to be a little slow. Of course they can quickly offset this disadvantage with their reach. However, once a taller player gets running, hitting the next ball behind them is a smart play. Taller players have a higher center of gravity and more momentum, which makes it tougher for them to quickly change directions and get moving again in the opposite direction.

Tall players also seem to have more problems with balls that stay low and force them to get low with the ball to hit it. However, you will find that hitting high topspin balls will not affect them nearly as much as it affects shorter players. The taller you are the harder it is to get to the low balls. If your tall opponent plays with a 2-handed backhand, it makes it very difficult to get down to the low balls. If you have a good slice shot and can keep it low, it can prove to be very effective against taller players. If they are players who like the net be sure to use a lot of topspin to make the ball dip down at their feet to really make them bend those knees to get to hit their volleys.

Tall players also have longer arms. This makes hitting serves at their body to jam them more effective. They are taller/bigger, so there is more body and arm to get out of the way to hit the ball. Usually tall players like balls that are away from their body that they can stretch out for and take a full swing.

While playing these tall players here is some stuff to look out for. Tall players usually have a much better serve. They have a better angle and a much better chance of smoking a flat serve over the net and right past you.

Tall players are also very tough to lob over unless they are very slow footed. But it takes little effort for them to take 2 steps backwards to slam what you thought was the perfect lob. Likewise, if they come to the net they have a large wingspan, which makes it very tough to pass them. A defensive lob usually does not do the trick if they can move relatively well. It may take a pinpoint accurate topspin lob to hit a winner, and topspin lobs can be tough to hit.

Taller players can usually cover the net very well with just a reach of their arm. I used to play a gentleman who did not need to move more than one step each way to cover the whole net, and it was extremely hard to pass him at the net or the baseline.

There is no question about it, tall players can be very tough to play. They have better angles because of their height, a higher margin of error for those big serves and a reach that can drive you nuts. However, if you try the strategies listed above you may find a kink or two in the armor. If you do, exploit it.

Good Luck on the Court!
Scott Baker
Tennis4you.com