What is the quality of your offensive shot? Do you capitalize on every shorter ball? Coach Marcin Bieniek, founder of instructional Enjoy Tennis Blog, explains how to increase the quality of your offensive shots.
Top players hit the ball with a really fast pace. From the baseline they try to use power to put more pressure on the opponent in order to achieve one of two things: to force the opponent to make mistakes or to receive an easy response. When the second scenario happens, pro players move inside the court and try to finish the point.
The basic strategy in tennis is to play the ball deep. By keeping the ball close to the baseline, players limit offensive solutions of the opponent. Rivals can move behind the baseline to get more time to prepare their shots, but at the time they will also be further away from the target. Rivals can also use a half-volley, but it doesn’t provide many tactical options — especially the offensive ones. Overall, playing balls deep guarantees consistency and increases the chances of receiving shorter balls that are perfect to attack. However, when you get this opportunity to win the point, you have to make sure that you have the skills that will allow you to convert the opportunity into a won point.
There are different ways you can use your opponent’s easier response. You can go for a winner or try to hit a controlled approach shot and finish the point at the net. In this article I would like to focus just on hitting winning shots, so all the tips will be related just to this scenario. Tennis is not based on winners, but there are some situations during every match that create possibility to increase the number of shots that the opponent can’t reach. Getting short balls is definitely one of them.
At different levels of play we can see different results while watching players who approach short balls. Novak Djokovic or Serena Williams rarely miss short balls or even lose points while having an opportunity to hit an offensive shot from the mid-court area. However, at a lower level of performance, missed balls at the net or playing into the spot where the opponent waits are common situations that are visible when receiving the ball that bounces inside the service box. Players have to understand that they will always receive easier balls, so their preparation before the tournament will decide how they will use these opportunities to get advantage.
If you think that you are not winning enough points after receiving short balls, check the list below:
Point of contact
An offensive shot’s quality is dependent on your point of contact. It is really difficult to hit a winning shot while hitting the ball below the knee level. Optimal point of contact for offensive shots is between waist and shoulder level, so you should always pay attention to this aspect and adjust your footwork to get to the hitting spot as early as possible.
Tennis is a sport where technique has to be adjustable. A neutral forehand from the baseline has to be played differently than an attacking forehand from the service line. By being closer to the net and having less distance to the opponent’s baseline, a player has to make shorter follow-through and finish the motion quicker to put a powerful ball into the court.
Aim further from the lines
Every winner counts exactly one point. It doesn’t matter if you hit a spectacular winner that bounces on the line or you hit just to open space on the court, you will always receive one point for your efforts. It is important to understand that by increasing the power of your shot you also increase the risk of making errors. That is why you shouldn’t add another risk factor which is related to the target area. Aim further from the lines to make sure that even when you miss a little bit your intended location, you will still win the point.
Believe in yourself
Your mental approach to short balls has a big impact on your performance. If you think about not missing the ball, you will probably miss it, because you will be tense and you will not move your body and racquet fluently. Every time you receive an easy ball, be positive about your shot. Step to the ball with confidence that you are going to finish the point and even when you miss from time to time accept it as a calculated risk. If you want to become a successful competitor, you have to use your chances every time they occur.
Modern game is based on offensive solutions. Players look for every opportunity to use dynamic equipment and more conscious technique to generate maximum power with their strokes. Receiving a shorter ball is a scenario that many players dream of, but you firstly have to execute the shot successfully. Use the tips from this article to increase the quality of your offensive shots and teach a lesson to every opponent who is not able to keep the ball deep.
Visit our Tennis Tips page for a lot more articles by tennis coaches. There you can learn how to improve specific shots and skills, handle pressure, control your emotions, adapt your game to all surfaces and weather conditions, choose the best tennis racquet, and much more.