- Slice serve: using a slice serve adds movement to your serve, you can use it to swing the returner off the court or jam them in the body. This serve is very useful as it doesn’t have to be perfect as long as it has good placement and movement. I hard flat serve is great, but if you don’t have accuracy or consistency with it you will miss often or serve into your opponents strike zone. Developing a slice serve is also an easy way to improve your second serve, rather than serve up a pancake flat second serve you increase your racket head speed and use spin around the outside of the ball to control it into the box.
- Topspin forehand: Along with the first serve, the topspin forehand is the biggest weapon in tennis. Having the ability to use heavy topspin enables the player to generate more pace, angle and better depth control. Good footwork and a loose wrist will help you make the most of this potential weapon.
- Slice backhand: The slice backhand is entirely underrated in today’s power topspin game. Being able to keep a slice low and under the net tape height neutralizes big hitters and gives you added reach when the ball isn’t in your strike zone or you are playing defense. The slice is also a very good offensive weapon as an approach or to draw your two handed backhand hitting opponent forward and out of their comfort zone.
- Defensive lob: Having a good defensive lob in your toolbox is a must for both singles and doubles. In trouble and off the court? Throw up a high and deep defensive lob using a continental grip to give yourself time to recover back into the court and force your opponent to restart the point from the baseline. A continental or eastern backhand grip is used for this defensive shot.
- Approach Shot: Competitive tennis players must have the ability to transition forward and put pressure on their opponents to come up with something special to beat them. If your opponent knows you can’t put them away in the forecourt, they are able to relax on the depth of their stroke knowing you won’t attack their short stuff. Develop patterns of play to attack short balls and approach the net and this will keep your opponents accountable for the depth of their groundstrokes fearing your approach. This will result in more errors as they try and keep you at the baseline.
- Moonball: There will be times during matches where nothing is working. You will be missing groundstrokes and short balls and it will seem like it isn’t your day. Wrong. Don’t be too proud to use the Moonball when you have exhausted your other options. This will keep your opponent on the baseline and cut down your unforced errors. These moon balls cause opponents trouble because they rise up high above the shoulders. You can even use a Moonball as an approach if your opponents poor footwork lets the ball get high and behind them.
- Short Angle volleys: When you come to the net, forget the power volley and focus on soft short cross court angles. These are most effective if you can get close to the net for your volleys. Great in singles and doubles, even if you mishit this volley, you are forcing your opponent to RUN! Sync this shot with an effective approach shot and you have a winning pattern, especially at the club level.
- Backhand Crosscourt: A staple groundstroke for both singles and doubles players. A deep backhand Crosscourt will keep your opponent from being able to come forward and attack your weak balls or run around and use their forehand. This shot also keeps your balls away from an active net player in doubles. A Crosscourt backhand is a must have.
- Inside In/Out forehand: For most people, their forehand is their stronger wing. Using an inside in or inside out forehand in singles, or doubles where possible enables you to be more aggressive, provided you have the footwork to get yourself in position fast enough. The inside In forehand in doubles is also generally a safer alternative than a backhand up the line. This keeps the net player honest and opens up the inside out forehand cross court.
- The Overhead: if you have a good transition game and you like coming to the net in singles, or you play a lot of doubles, you will need an overhead! Placement is still more important than power with this shot and developing a slicing overhead will allow you to be more accurate and be effective if you don’t have the best footwork. The slice over head is very effective in doubles.
Having these shots in your tennis toolbox will allow you to use many different strategies against your opponents your singles and doubles matches.
See you on the courts!
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