Are you looking for some great tennis strategy tips? We have compiled a list of tennis strategy tips that will help you improve your game!
Everything is up to you in a singles game, which can be both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because you never have to worry about being paired with a weak doubles partner, but it’s a curse because there’s more pressure and no one to cover for any flaws in your game. Each of our singles strategies is discussed in greater detail below.
- Be Consistent and Out-Rally Your Opponent
- Be Flexible
- Work the Backhand
- Exploit Weaknesses
- Emphasize Cross-Court Shots
- Beware of Down-The-Line Shots
- Forward Movement
- Angle Your Volleys
- Change up Your Serve
- Improve Your Weaknesses
- Capitalize on Your Strengths
- Hack Away
- Be Aggressive
- Open up The Court
- Attack the Net
- Keep It Fresh
- Value Your Serve
- Don’t Be Afraid of Losing the Point
- Final Thoughts
Be Consistent and Out-Rally Your Opponent
The objective is to win the point by keeping the ball in play until the opposing player makes a mistake, so consistency and depth are critical. While this may seem obvious to some, too many players lose matches due to inconsistency in favor of playing killer shots.
Your goal is also to avoid any unforced errors by avoiding unnecessary risks and returning all of your opponent’s shots while hitting the ball deep enough to keep him from putting pressure on you. To make this approach work:
- You should hit the ball at a controlled pace.
- Choose a large enough target on the court.
- Hit the ball with enough net clearance and away from the lines.
- Focus on hitting the ball cross-court to take advantage of hitting over the lowest part of the net.
- Prepare to retrieve any ball.
Also, instead of thinking about winners or just staying in the point, hoping your opponent misses, look at how you can force your opponent into missing.
For the majority of us, it is far easier to return shots of the same pace, spin, and placement as opposed to shots with varying speeds or spins. You want to make use of this fact against the opposing player. The opposing player will get into a “groove” if you repeatedly challenge them with the same type of shot pattern.
Hitting a variety of different shots – drop shots, lobs, slices – will have them adjust their own shots and position on the court. More likely than not, this will cause frustration in your opponent and play into your hands.
Work the Backhand
The backhand is usually the weaker of the two groundstrokes and if the opposing tennis player has a strong forehand but a weak backhand, continue to play to the backhand. They will make more errors and become frustrated because they are unable to use their (favored) forehand.
This tennis singles strategy includes developing a solid game plan and executing it accordingly while giving yourself enough wiggle room to adjust depending on the course of the match. One shouldn’t be scared of the opponent’s strengths. If your opponent’s forehand is his most dangerous weapon and the opponent’s backhand a liability, force him to make mistakes with it rather than outplay you.
Emphasize Cross-Court Shots
The court is longer, making it easier to hit the ball back the same way, and the net is lower in the middle, making cross-court shots more likely to clear the net. On the other hand, if your opponent has a stronger forehand than you, aim to avoid extended crosscourt forehand rallies and instead transition the play to their backhand.
Beware of Down-The-Line Shots
This is especially true if they go to your opponent’s strong side. The reasoning is that it allows your opponent to respond with a cross-court shot into the open court space, having you then cover a lot of space to retrieve that shot.
Naturally, going for a down-the-line shot can help keep your opponent on his toes or even close out the point, but remember that hitting a crosscourt ball down the line is more challenging than hitting it back in the same direction.
This sounds simple, but it is often difficult to implement. In singles, the player that has to move around the court the most is usually at a disadvantage. For starters, hitting an effective ball while on the move is more difficult. Second, continually running down balls as you get tired, over time, wears you out – both physically and mentally.
Don’t stop hitting the angles, open up the court, and send the opposing player running in all directions. Unless your opponent doesn’t have consistent shots he can rely on, hitting the ball in the center of the court will not be enough.
Hitting the angles is a huge part of anyone’s tennis game. Following the ball implies moving to the right of center if you hit it to your opponent’s right corner or the left of center if you hit it to your opponent’s left corner. Typically, you want to end up closer to the net than the service line.
When facing players that are consistent or have an apparent weakness in their game, being aggressive by moving to the net is a very effective strategy. Additionally, by moving to the net, you reduce the time your opponent has to prepare for his passing shot, and they now have to deal with someone standing closer to them, decreasing the amount of court space they have to blast the ball past you.
Often, just attacking the net will be enough to force an opponent to make an error. It is critical to attack the net on the opponent’s weak side as much as possible when using this strategy without becoming too predictable. This strategy can be used by playing serve and volley, chip (return) and charge, or attacking the short ball.
Angle Your Volleys
While at the net, you should play aggressively, hit the corners or play angled shots. Volleying toward the center of the court is not advisable.
Change up Your Serve
Even if you have a great serve, your opponent will become accustomed to it and figure out the ideal location to stand when returning. By changing up your placement, pace, and spin, you can keep your opponent guessing and make it harder for them to attack your serve.
Improve Your Weaknesses
Take note of which shots your opponents want you to hit most often. These are typically the shots that they believe are your weakest. After the game, you can go home and improve these very shots. Working on your weak shots first will help you improve faster than focusing on your strengths.
Capitalize on Your Strengths
Identifying and capitalizing on your most effective shots is the most popular strategy in tennis. If your forehand is your best stroke, that’s the one you’ll want to practice the most. If your strategy is to use your high-percentage shot whenever you can, you’ll need some smart tactics to help you get there.
If your strongest shot allows you to exploit your opponent’s weaknesses, you’ll be most likely in command for most of the game.
Your strength may not be effective against an opponent and may even work against you. For example, if your strongest shot is your serve, but your opponent hits great returns, you won’t be able to get as many easy free points as you would against someone with a bad return of serve.
Playing tennis versus a hacker is one of life’s few more frustrating experiences. Hacking goes against almost all of the tennis basics that we come across on our learning path. Hackers are also referred to as “pushers” because their most effective strategy is safely hitting the ball back into the court. Pushers don’t try to end a point early and rarely change their strategy in the middle of a game.
Instead, they simply continue the rally and force the opponent to make a mistake. Hackers are typically physically fit and prefer to play the long game to wear down opponents and force them into making mistakes. If your opponent has the upper hand, hacking is a great way to find back into the game. It is particularly useful against opponents who have a very aggressive game as it slows down the pace they eventually need to hit winners.
Pushing gives you more control and reduces the number of errors; this strategy can also help demoralize and wear out your opponents. This strategy is an excellent backup plan for getting back into matches.
It’s a strategy that isn’t always successful, as more skilled players can find ways to outplay pushers.
Aggressive players generally have a bigger serve and baseline strokes and so go for winners more frequently. This approach usually has their adversaries play a similar style, and points are typically shorter. Down-the-line shots and hitting closer to the lines are also part of a more aggressive approach.
It necessitates stepping into the ball and making contact as early as possible to take away time from the opponent to prepare for his next shot, particularly when they get pulled off the court and seem likely to play a weaker shot.
If this approach works for you, you’ll be very hard to beat as this playing style is hard to counter.
The risk of making mistakes is much higher, and unforced errors are more common. Your shot selection could get bad quickly, losing a bunch of cheap points, which could have a demoralizing effect on you and a negative outcome for the entire match.
Open up The Court
This strategy is all about moving your opponent around the court and creating space for you to hit a winner. If you can hit short balls and generate angles this way, your opponent will have to recover swiftly to stay in the point. Many players do not practice or expect to hit shots from doubles alleys or out wide.
It’s also a tiring strategy; players who have to move this much will quickly tire, which is a great way to seal the victory. If you can hit a shorter ball with angles, your opponent will have to recover quickly to stay in the point.
You should be able to hit a winner on the next shot into the opponent’s court unless they hit a tremendous shot to put you on the defense. Your winner may not require power but may simply be too difficult to retrieve. The most common strategy is to serve out wide and then hit the opposite corner—a one-two punch.
It can aid in the creation of opportunities to hit easy winners. It also forces your opponent to move around the court in unfamiliar places.
This style of attack is difficult to set up.
Attack the Net
Netplay is less common in today’s game because improved racquets and modern string have made it faster and more difficult to utilize netplay. However, seeing well-crafted volleys and incredible passing shots is still beautiful. Tactics that bring the net into play, like Serve and Volley or the Chip and Charge, are unusual, but learning how to use them effectively is important.
Getting to the net on a good ball can help reduce the amount of court space available for the opponent to return to, forcing them to go for the winning shot. Moving your opponent to the net, where they may feel uneasy, may force them to make mistakes.
This strategy can quickly win points off of easy volleys. It has the potential to force your opponent to go for tough winners.
A bad shot to set this up could cost you a point.
Keep It Fresh
This technique is all about keeping your opponent guessing; you mix several approaches and tactics, so they don’t know what’s coming next. If your opponent has a single game plan, this is an excellent way to disrupt their strategy and playing style.
The points have no rhythm, giving you an advantage in dominating the match. Topspin, flat balls, slice, deep shots, short balls, wide balls, low balls, high balls, fast balls, etc. They’ll never be able to be consistent in their approach.
You have complete control over the game and can force your opponent out of their comfort zone.
Expect a lot of mistakes as you try to solve your own problems by doing too much.
Value Your Serve
The serve is extremely important in tennis for three reasons:
- You have complete control over the shot.
- You have two chances at it.
- It defines the tone for the remainder of the point.
This is a significant advantage, but you must seize it. Walking up to the baseline, going through the motions, and hitting the serve without thinking isn’t a winning strategy. Instead, you should have a clear strategy for each serve you hit.
Make sure you’re aiming for a target (remember, the backhand is often the best shot to target) and have a plan for your next shot after the serve. The serve and the shot that follows it, known as the serve plus one, are excellent opportunities to set yourself up with an attacking forehand that can put you in command of the point.
Because you have complete control at this point, you can make these plans. Your opponent has no control over how you hit your serve, so take advantage of the situation and make it work for you. Remember that the difference between your first and second serves is huge, so your first serve percentage is vital.
It’s good to hit powerful first serves and get free points, but the odds are stacked in your favor when you hit a high percentage of first serves, so don’t be afraid to turn down the power and focus on making lots of first serves.
Don’t Be Afraid of Losing the Point
This isn’t strictly strategy, but we’ve found that it greatly affects how you use your tennis tactics. You can’t be afraid of losing a point because the reality is that you’ll lose a lot of them regardless of what you do.
Even in a 6-2 6-2 victory, you lose a lot of points, so there’s nothing to be concerned about. This means you shouldn’t be afraid to be bold in your strategy and play the shots that will give you the best chance to win the point.
The great thing about tennis is that there is always a way back into the match until you lose the last point, so forget about the scoring system and focus on the strategies that will give you the best chance of winning.
Many of the pros are incredibly good at strategizing, and you’ll frequently hear them discuss tactical tweaks they made that helped them beat their opponents. Away from the professional game, though, tennis players tend to go out and hit the ball without thinking.
In fact, your approach is one of the few areas of tennis over which you have complete control, so make the most of it. We’ve compiled a list of some of the most important strategies we use on the court. However, there is still a lot to learn!
What Is a Drill to Improve Your Consistency in Tennis?
One player hits cross-court shots, and the other player hits down-the-line shots. Try to hit as many balls as possible without making any errors before switching roles.
Clear The Net:
Play points in which balls that end up in the net count double to practice hitting with more net clearance.
Depth Play Points:
Practice hitting deep shots where the ball is not allowed to bounce in the service boxes. If it does, the player loses the point.
Christoph Friedrich is a German tennis player and coach currently residing in Oakland, California. He began his tennis journey at the age of eight and has since dedicated his life to the sport. After working as a tennis coach and hitting partner in New York City for eight years, Christoph decided to share his knowledge and experience with tennis players around the world by creating the My Tennis Expert blog. His goal is to make tennis education accessible to everyone and help players select the best equipment for their game, from racquets and strings to shoes and overgrips. Christoph's extensive research and expertise in tennis technology make him a valuable resource for players of all levels.