I’m a very competitive player, and I give my all on the court because, well… I want to win. But that doesn’t mean I don’t play for fun because I do. It IS fun. But where’s the fun in losing?
Over the years, I’ve learned that playing tennis isn’t just about players hitting a fuzzy yellow ball back and forth over a net until someone misses it. It’s about skill AND strategy.
This post details actual strategies you can use to actually create and control points…and ultimately WIN them! Sure, these may seem pretty basic, but in the heat of the moment, it’s hard to think of even the simple stuff unless you’ve really learned it, and practiced it. And one more thing – COMMUNICATION WITH YOUR PARTNER IS KEY because these strategies WILL NOT WORK if only one of you knows what’s going on.
Divide and conquer.
When both opponents are at the net, hit the ball right down the middle of the court. Not only is this considered one of the safest shots (because it’s over the lowest part of the net,) but it’s one of the best that will mess with an opponent’s mental game. It causes temporary confusion as to who should take the ball, and by the time they finally decide, the point will be over – and more often than not, in your favor.
If they do manage to volley it back, you need to be ready for it. It will be short and without pace, and maybe even an angle.
Pick on the weaker player.
Look for weaknesses in your opponents, and then target the one who has the most: a weaker second serve, a weaker backhand, or maybe that player hates being at the net. Just keep hitting the ball back to that one player (the BOTH of you!): attack their second serve; keep hitting the ball to their backhand, and be aggressive with passing shots when they’re at the net (especially to their backhand.) This two-on-one attack is guaranteed to frustrate both opponents into making more errors.
Get in to the net.
In doubles, the team that controls the net usually controls the match, so you and your partner should always be working towards that goal. You might be able to do it right away in your deep return of their weak second serve, or their weak return of your powerful serve. The deeper you hit the ball, the sooner you can come in to the net.
NOTE: if you’re playing against lobbers, you can still come in on a nice deep shot, but stop just inside the service line. Your deep returns should keep them at the baseline or beyond and (hopefully) force them to hit shorter lobs which you can then take as an overhead. And if they do manage to get a lob past you, you don’t have far to move back and get it.
Aim for their feet.
When a ball lands down at your feet, it has nowhere for it to go but up, right? So hit the ball with lots of topspin, aiming right for their feet, and follow the ball in to the net, because the odds are great that their return will be high and without much pace. A lot of volley winners happen with this strategy.
I prefer balls with pace, as do most players who are 3.5 and above, so use that to your advantage by hitting soft, mid-court shots. This will force your opponents to generate their own pace and hit from “no-man’s land”, often resulting in balls that go long or wide.
In doubles, you and your partner need to move together, as if you have a rope connecting you. For example, if you move out wide for a shot, your partner also needs to move with you and cover not only her side of the court but the middle as well. If she stays put, there would now be a huge gap between the two of you for your opponent to rip the ball for a winner.
If you’re playing a team that likes to serve and volley, then use your lob. When they come in on their serve (especially on the deuce side,) lob over the player already at the net (and make it deep.) The server will then have to hustle back and return it with an awkward, usually short backhand, so make sure to follow your shot in, but not too far (just inside the service line,) in case they get lucky and return deep. Should that happen, don’t worry because you didn’t come in all the way and therefore don’t have to go back very far to get it.
And if you feel like toying with them, you can purposefully hit short shots to force them in just so you can lob them. While many players can run down an occasional lob, they can’t do it for an entire match. Even players who move well can get frustrated with this tactic, and more often than not will start making errors.
If you know these strategies AND communicate with your partner, you will definitely win more matches! Be sure and share this post with your tennis peeps, and check out our other instructional videos and strategy hacks for more helpful tips!