1. Opponents who love pace - Slow down
your shots and use depth, placement and spin.
For many players the harder you hit the ball the harder
they return the ball. Some players are just naturally
better at hitting balls that are hit to them faster.
Maybe you are one of these players, but what if you are
not? If you are not a player who likes your opponent
to hit hard shots you need to find a way to decrease your
opponent's chances of hitting the ball with a lot of pace.
Many players have problems hitting harder
shots off of slow deep returns. These types of players
thrive on pace, but not their own, yours! If you are
playing a match against one of these types of players think
smarter, not harder. An effective method can be to
move the player around the court with medium or slow paced
shots deep to the corners. This forces them to move
to the ball and to generate the pace if they want to hit
the ball hard. It is even harder for players to hit
a winner off of slow deep shots when you use a lot of spin
and keep your shots deep in the court. Hitting with
a lot of topspin will make it harder for your opponent to
hit the ball in their comfort zone, likewise with slice
shots that will stay low. By keeping the ball deep
in the court with a lot of spin you force your opponent
to stand back deeper in the court allowing you more time
to react to his/her shots.
2. Mixing it up - Throw in slow paced
shots to not allow your opponent to get into a rhythm.
Mixing up your shots in a tennis match will make it tough
for your opponent to get into a groove on their shots. You
do not want your opponent to know what is coming each time
you hit the ball. Even if you are a player who loves
to hit the ball hard and is good at it, it will still benefit
you to mix up your shots with some slower shots with more
spin. If you watch the pros you will notice that they
mix up the pace rather than try to knock the fuzz off of
the ball with each shot. Using different spins forces
your opponent to hit the ball at different heights and can
keep them from hitting every ball in their strike zone.
3. Serve and Volley - Spin the serve
to get closer to the net.
When playing serve and volley you want to be as close to
the net as possible to hit your first volley. The
last thing you want is to be stuck in the middle of the
court hitting a ball that lands at your feet as you try
to get to the net. The slower you serve the ball the
more time it allows you to get closer to the net to hit
your first volley. If you hit a hard serve be prepared
for a fast return. There are two ways to look at the
serve and volley. If you have a monster of a serve
like Pete Sampras or Andy Roddick than you can get away
with the bomb of a serve and coming in behind it. However
there are players who don't have a 145 mph serve, just like
most of us. Instead of the huge flat serve, try mixing
in a heavy spin serve and moves your opponent out wide.
By using tons of spin instead of pace it allows you
to get closer to the net to hit your first volley.
The closer you are to the net the more offensive you can
be with your volleys. Being close to the net allows
for better angles, more options and more room for error.
4. Defensive shots - Slow the ball down
to give you extra time to recover.
When you are forced out of position to return a ball you
need to buy yourself some time to get back into a good position
on the court. Hitting the ball hard will only cut
your recovery time down since the ball will reach the other
side of the court much quicker. A smart shot would be to
hit a deep lob and get back to the middle of the baseline.
The more advanced players can hit a heavy topspin
lob or a high heavy topspin shot. These shots allow
you time to get back to a good court position and get you
back into the point. It is also harder for your opponent
to hit winners off of deep high shots that are slower, unless
you hit the ball so high that they can get underneath the
ball for an overhead. Hitting the ball crosscourt
will also allow you more length to hit the ball. The
further the ball can travel the more time you have to recover.
Just remember, the harder you choose to hit the ball
in this situation, the less time you will have to recover
and get back into a decent position.
As you can see, hitting the ball harder
is not always better. For some of you that is great
news because you may be a player who does not hit he ball
hard. Using different strategies with spin and placement
can deflate an opponent's chances of hitting the ball hard
which can decrease the number of winners from your opponent.
So do not be discouraged if your opponent can out
power you from the baseline, use what you just learned to
make the match look better for you.
Luck on the Court!