Strategy is your “game plan”; tactics are the tools you use to implement your strategy or plan.

“Levels of play” dictate strategy.

  1. Consistency. Keep it in. Crack your opponent with concentration, hustle, and steadiness. This is by far the most important strategy in tennis.
  2. Keep it deep. If it’s deep, he can’t get to the net successfully. There is great tennis “virtue” in depth.
  3. Keep it at a weakness. Most often his backhand; backhand passing shots are the most common tennis weakness.
  4. Position. Move them from side to side. Some can’t hit when running. Also, this tires your opponent, and tired players lose concentration and make errors. 

If you can’t do number four, back up to number three. Can’t do number three, back up to number two. No good even then? Back up to number one!

The object is to use these four tools to force errors. Four of five points are determined by errors not by great shots.

The next best thing to an error is a short ball. Dennis Van Der Meer defines the strategy of tennis as “to attack the short ball.” The short ball is the green light to attack. This varies from player to player (and from opponent to opponent). You transfer yourself from a baseline defensive player to a net offensive player on the short ball.

An approach shot is a specific and different shot, best described as compact or shortened. It is often an underspin shot and should be directed deep and down the line.

Once at the net, overplay to the same side you approach on. Bisect the angle of your opponent’s best two passing shots and then (as Jim Verdieck of Redlands defines strategy) volley away from the source, or passer.


For additional reading: "ABC's of Tennis Strategy" by Wayne Sabin. 

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