Biggest weapon in tennis? The 1st serve. Second biggest weapon in tennis? The forehand. Using them back to back is a deadly tactic implemented by the best players in the world to take control of the point early on their own serve.
I spent some time out at Indian Wells this year and took some video from my phone of players using this tactic. Competitive players need to work on creating first strike on their own serve regularly. Without it you are going to have to work your way from neutral to offense throughout the point. Much tougher to do than playing first strike.
Getting the first serve in is obviously key to being aggressive on serve. If you can do this, more often than not you will be able to get into a position to use your strength (for the vast majority of players this is the forehand). Second serves aren’t as aggressive and the opponent has usually shifted their focus from defense to attack so it’s important that you make the 1st. Often you will have more success taking some pace off the serve and hitting your spots with more accuracy.
The second part is creating an aggressive forehand with your footwork. Good players predominantly hit their 1st serve returns deep down the middle to the backhand side of the server. Working on your run around footwork is a huge help in creating a confident first strike player. If you make a good 1st serve then the ball will often fall short, but if you don’t quite hit your spot or the opponents return is outstanding then you still need to be ready to get around that backhand if possible. Defending a backhand from deep down the middle of the court is less than ideal so you have to either have enough juice or accuracy on your serve to draw a short ball or error or get around that return quick to turn neutral into offense.
Winning your service games quickly with first strike tennis will build pressure on your opponents serve knowing they have to hold to stay in the match and allow you to play more aggressively on your return games.
Work on using your weapons back to back and you will take control of points earlier and keep your opponent playing defense.
See you on the courts!
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