Better Doubles with Angles, Alleyways and Awareness – I am often asked where they should hit
the ball in doubles to be most effective. Truthfully there are many areas of the court that are not
used as often as they should be in doubles. Players have a tendency to only hit long and sometimes
short in doubles. However, angling your shots to help open up the court and split the partners is one
of the essential parts of playing good doubles. This requires a shorter backswing to ensure contact is
made out in front of you and allowing the ball to land shorter in the court pulling players out wider.
Next is making use of the alleyway area. Each alleyway is 4 ½ feet wide, which is ¼ of the whole court,
so if you don’t use them you are giving your opponents a free pass to not cover those areas. Lastly, it
is important to be aware that as a team moves during a point, certain areas or boxes open up. Being
aware of what sections of the court will be open after they hit will allow you to focus on putting the ball
where they are not and forcing them to hit more balls on the run. There are some really fun drills that
can be done to practice these three things and improve your success on the courts. Sign up today to
spend some time with us and we will help you add these effective skills to your game.
Better Doubles with Angles, Alleyways and Awareness – I am often asked where they should hit
Understanding the Serve - This shot starts every point in the game of tennis, so it is pretty important to have not only an effective serve, but one that is very consistent. You do get two serves, but many players hit the first one as hard as they can, it lands out, and then just tap the second one in only to have your opponent crush their return for a winner or a forcing shot. The key to an effective serve is in the wrist. On other shots in tennis, we are used to squeezing the fingers tightly during contact. It is just the opposite on the serve. The two tips to remember are “hit up” and “snap down”. This will allow you to create arc, but also to bring the ball down into the service box. If the ball goes long, you snap your wrist sooner. If the ball goes into the net you snap your wrist later. Then as you get the feel for both of these corrections you can increase the speed and vary the direction more and yet allow you to get the serve in with more effective results. Then try to hit your serves wide in the corner of the service box, down the center and into the body by working your wrist toward your intended target. The looser the wrist the more consistent and effective your serve will be. With a little practice you can improve your results on your serve and put more pressure on your opponents to miss or hit a weak return. Good luck to you with your new serve.
We would all like to win more points which leads to winning more games and ultimately more matches. While it might appear that you have to work really hard to do this or would somehow be more complicated, it really isn’t. Playing smarter with a more simple approach is not only more effective, but more efficient. Let’s look at some examples. If a players likes to hit low balls, you give them high ones. If they hit effectively when they are receiving hard hit balls, then don’t provide them with much pace. If they seem to effortlessly return corner to corner shots then go right at them. Sometimes it is just a matter of giving them what they don’t like to play smarter and win more points. If they are a rhythm type player, mix it up with varying depths, speed, direction and even spins. Sometimes these players are not comfortable with opponents charging the net against them. Most often whether consciously or sub-consciously, players will start to read your habits and patterns, so mixing it up every so often forces them to adjust to the change you have made. Try it next time you play and see if your results get better. Good luck to you changing it up and keeping your game plan simple for better results.
Who Should Take the Ball Down the Middle? - I am often asked who should take the ball down the middle in doubles. I receive comments like the forehand player, the better player, the crosscourt players, etc. These all sound good until you ask, what if that “chosen” player slips, was not prepared, just can’t reach it or a number of other problems? The solution, it is the responsibility of both of the players. The player that is closest to the net has the first shot at the ball and the other player should always back up their partner. Sometimes the first player just misses the ball and so the backup player may be the only option for a successful return. So next time you play doubles remember to communicate with your partner regularly and when a shot is hit between your team in the middle, plan on going for it either as the closest player or the backup player. Good luck in defending the middle in the future. You should have greater success in covering the middle of the court, which most players are taught to hit to for a successfully placed shot.
If you need additional help in understanding this tip, give us a call at the Lake Club Tennis Center and we can schedule for a tune up lesson or hitting session.
I am often asked how to finish the point more efficiently and how to win points easier. I love giving these types of clinics as the process is actually very simple and easy to implement. Your first task to become more aware of not what your opponent is going to hit, but what the ball you hit is going to do to your opponent. This should give you a one or two second earlier start to decide whether it is a good time to come into the net or stay back and set it up again. If you hit the ball low at their feet or into their body or put them in a difficult position, then you charge the net. If it a ball they will not have much trouble with, then you hold your position until you can give them a difficult situation. Sometimes to get the ball at an opponent’s feet it requires taking the pace off of the ball, especially if you are hitting a low ball from below the net. So keep in mind that the height of the ball you receive will also help you determine the best shot to hit to force a weaker return from your opponents.
So look for opportunities to increase your awareness of your opponent’s difficult situations, but the ball you hit and next time you should find yourself being able to charge the net to finish the point quick with a forcing angle or well place shot away from your opponent . If you find yourself struggling with this concept, come to a clinic or lesson and we can help you get it right!
Missing shots because you are nervous? Read on for better results - We all make mistakes when we get nervous, but many don’t know that these mistakes can be avoided by remembering some simple cues. When getting nervous on forehand/backhand ground strokes or volleys the hand will usually loosen up at contact. If you can just remember when you are tense, squeeze the bottom three fingers on your hitting hand it will help firm up your shot under pressure. When you become nervous on your serve usually the opposite happens and you squeeze the grip too tightly making your wrist very inflexible and you don’t allow it to work smoothly and efficiently. Thinking about griping the racquet handle loosely and not gripping too tightly with the fingers will ensure that your wrist can work the way it should when under pressure. Try these tips next time you are out playing or hitting and I think you will see greater success when those nervous times pop up.
Good luck with your victory over nervous mistakes and new found confidence. If you find yourself struggling with it, come to a clinic or lesson and we can help you get it right!
Some tennis players are more effective with strokes that don’t look as smooth or unconventional, but they win a lot of points, games and matches. There was even a book written a while back titled “If I am the Better Player, Why Can’t I Win” that was quite successful. Often possessing better strokes does not always mean that they are the better competitor. What makes tennis players compete better is where they put the ball in their opponent’s court. If you can place the ball at your opponent’s feet or in the corners or just barely over the net then they will have a more difficult time returning your shots. Conversely, if you can hit better looking shots, but they usually go to the center of the court then your opponent will have an easier time defending your shots and can create more opportunities to put you in a defensive situation. So the next time you have a choice of just hitting the ball hard think about hitting it at their feet first, then try to hit it away from them. This will have a tendency to freeze them in place and your next shot hit away from them might be even more effective.
Good athletes are often credited with having “good hands.” The awareness of your hands is especially important while playing tennis. To improve your tennis skills, challenge yourself to know what your hands are doing at all times in the contact area.
1. Are you lengthening the contact area with your hands or blocking the ball without any swing?
2. Another important consideration for your hands is whether your contact area is in front of you or behind your body.
3. Your hands have the greatest influence. Where your racket face is is pointing, toward the left, right, upward, or downward can affect the result.
4. The grip pressure of your hand at contact can vary greatly from very firm to a softer grip and even almost loose enough to slip out of your hand to accomplish very short or angled shots.
5. Lastly, your hand’s path in the contact area can be low to high, slightly high to low, and level.
It’s easy to get caught up worrying about your entire body while playing but key in more on what your hands are doing to become a better tennis player.
Using Disguise in the mid-court. When preparing for a shorter ball in the mid-court you have more options than just than you might realize. With a short ball you can hit an approach shot deep and come in, you can hit a drop shot, or you hit an angle shot to the service line side-T area. What makes each of the shots more effective is the disguise you use to keep your opponent’s guessing. A short backswing is a must to start with and then whether you choose an approach and drive the ball, turn your racket under quickly to hit the drop shot or hit a short chip to the service line angle you will have a more effective result by disguise. Often in tennis we have many options of what to hit and keeping your decision from showing until the last second will help you win more points. The short backswing is the key to your success on all your shots. Good luck to you with your new found options with disguise.
Do you ever find yourself saying I was there, but I missed the shot? With just a little better understanding of the position you are in you can get yourself out of trouble and win more points. The best plan is to use your balance and the net height to help you with your decision. If you are off balance, don’t go for a winning shot, but a defensive one that will give you time to get in better position or to regain your balance. If you will be making contact below the level of the net, you are in a defensive position. Don’t go for the winner, but aim for the feet of the deeper player if playing doubles or a softer, shorter shot if playing singles. If you are going to make contact above the net, you are in an offensive position and you can go for more of an angle or solid shot to force your opponent into a defensive position. Keep in mind that the deeper you are in the court you will not be able to attack as effectively. The greater the understanding of your position, the more shots you will play correctly. The more you control your shots the more you will be in control of the points and your opponent.