Since we’re in the Indian Wells-Miami Open period, our Marcin Bieniek, a professional tennis coach and founder of instructional Enjoy Tennis Blog, is dedicating this month’s column to the hard court game, giving us four crucial aspects we should focus on to adapt our tennis to hard courts for the best possible results.
Now that the Sunshine Swing is underway and players are competing on hard courts, where fast balls fly from one side to the other, it is useful to understand which skills are necessary to be able to successfully play on this surface. When we look at the professional level, players most of the time compete on hard courts, so we can say that tennis is a hard court game. It doesn’t matter if you compete in regional league or play in international tournaments, knowledge and skills necessary for hard court game are vital for showing your best when it really counts.
Looking at a hard court match, one factor quickly catches our attention — pace. Pace of the ball is really fast and it is related to the big power of four shots: serve, return, forehand, and backhand. Because of new technologies in equipment and because more knowledge is available about proper technique, players are able to hit the ball really hard and constantly put pressure on the opponent.
It is important to understand that no matter what your dominant style is, you have to make some adaptations every time you step on concrete. If you try to play exactly the same way both on slower and faster surfaces, your chances for being successful in various tournaments are not high.
To fine-tune your game for hard courts, you should work on the following:
Physical preparation is crucial at all types of courts, but strength is a priority in hard court matches. Your body action has big impact on ball speed, and the stronger your body is, the more power you can generate and translate into your forehand and backhand. Implement 2-3 sessions per week and strengthen all body parts to add a few more kmph to your game.
2. Playing close to the baseline
Hard court game is an offensive style of play, so successful athletes always stay close to the line. By keeping this position, you can not only better counter opponent’s deep shots, but you can also capitalize on every weaker ball by stepping inside the court and hitting the ball hard. Moreover, your distance to the net is shorter, so your strategy can implement net-rushing as an additional way of winning points easier.
Serve and return are the most important shots in tennis, since they start every point, but on the fast surface, serve is top priority. If you can place the ball in the right place with proper speed, you have big advantage from the very beginning. That is why working on your serve before hard court season will always give you benefits and let you win more matches.
Fast balls force mistakes, shortening the rallies. Most of the time points are finished after just three or four shots. This reality emphasizes the ability to focus from the first shot and be able to repeat this action many times over the course of the match. Some players need a few shots to get into the rhythm, but hard courts don’t give this opportunity. Either you control your first shot or you lose the point. By working on your focus, you will improve this area and it will be much easier to maintain proper attention before every point starts.
These are four crucial areas that all players have to improve to successfully play on hard courts. When you watch Indian Wells and Miami Open, you can pay attention to how many players use these skills to put pressure on their opponents. Additionally, try to spot new aspects that they use and you can implement them into your game to get advantage over rivals. Preparation is the key, so combine knowledge with practice and good results will follow.
MORE ARTICLES BY TENNIS COACH MARCIN BIENIEK:
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- How nutrition affects our mental readiness in tennis
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- How to maximize quality of tennis training sessions
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- The reasons you absolutely have to play tennis on all surfaces
- 3 simple products parents miss to buy to help their kids excel in tennis
- How to improve reaction skills in offensive, fast-paced tennis
- How to control anger and frustration to win a tennis match
- Tennis tips: 3 areas that cost you too many points
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- Things to (not) do on vacation to improve your tennis game
- How to translate your tennis practice into match wins
- How to build team spirit in tennis
- How to become a master of claycourt tennis
- How to make your serve more effective
- How to choose the best tennis racquet to fit your level, playing style and body type
- How to handle playing tennis in sunny conditions and even take it to your advantage
- 5 portable fitness tools for serious tennis players
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