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Tennis Tip: Position over Power
Position over Power
Have you noticed that much of tennis play occurs at the baseline nowadays? So many men and women’s players are focusing their efforts toward power hitting. That’s not your only weapon.
The ideal spot to take advantage of is 14 feet from the net or 1/3 of the way in from the service line. Here you can manage the court-deuce side, ad side, lobs and all. Your reaction time must be up to par but if you have the nerve-get up off that baseline!
Yes, the baseline has its advantages-you can see the most from this scenic spot but are you playing defensively and safe? Yes. The juicy beauties we most often applaud and those that take the point are approach shots and volleys with spin, slice and angles galore. Would you play chess from the back row? Close in and capture. This more intellectual model of play is fun, riskier and reaps more rewards.
Working your way to the vantage point requires moving into the court. The approach can be executed in many ways and the element of surprise is always a great bet. For example, your opponent loads you a backcourt/baseline shot and you see it coming. Pounce on this opportunity to split step when it hits their strings, read when possible where they plan to place it and spring into the court to meet it as a backhand volley! Taking this ball early without a bounce, about 7-9 feet inside the baseline, will really have them caught off-guard. The result is two-fold: you have shortened the distance they are used to returning (cutting down your opponent’s reaction time) and you have an arsenal of shots with which to reply (slicing, spinning, and sharp angled returns). Consider all the angles you may use-back corners, alleys, a top-spin shorty, low fliers, a 45 degree or less untouchable angle-so many choices to release upon the far back, waiting opponent. If this doesn’t win the point, guess what? Your quickly returned volley offers you time to get to that prime real estate inside the service line to really unleash your wrath.
After the approach, you may continue to close the gap between you and your opponent but it is not the path of the charging rhinoceros you wish to take. Treat this movement forward in a controlled manner so you may change direction if necessary. Think of a fish gliding and with a quick flick of the tail, you may change course. This thinking is a fine-tuned approach and can be honed by focusing on smaller steps in footwork as well as starting to tap into the flow of your opponent’s shots, speed of play and reaction time. “Listening” to their choices and not overpowering will be educational and helpful in beating them. Your focus is to cover the court (protecting your territory) and to get to those aggressive spots on the court to shut your opponent down.
Once at the net, cutting those angles, its all up to you and where you want to trick your opponent. If you have the thought to move in, your actions will follow and so will the points in your favor.
Setting your sights on taking balls early (any shots taken inside the baseline) will prove to confuse your opponent. Grabbing opportunities inside the baseline is a sure way to put the pressure on and allow you to mix up your game. A baseline rally is exhaustive and requires the most distance to be covered from baseline to baseline. Maintaining court position inside the baseline closes the distance on your side and presents more court space on the opposing side in which to send your winners. Working on your reaction time will need to take priority in your game if you choose to work the inside real estate but I think you might be surprised with your return on investment.
Get to Game Set Match and ask about our racquets with spin technology to start working those angles.
Remember, its not just about power, its field position. Checkmate!
Get on the Court!
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