The 20 Best Tennis Strategy Tips To Improve Your Game

Tennis strategies in singles are more physically and intellectually demanding than in doubles, and any flaws in your game will be identified and exploited by an experienced opponent.

Tennis Strategy
Tennis Strategy: Know which types of shots to go for in each zone!

In a singles game, everything is up to you, which can be both good and bad. It’s good because you never have to worry about being paired with a weak doubles player, but it’s bad 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

It’s difficult to exaggerate the significance of playing the ball back into your opponent’s court. Every time you do this, you force your opponent to take another shot, increasing the likelihood of a mistake. This may sound simple to some, but far too many players focus on hitting game-winning shots while losing matches due to inconsistency.

Be Flexible

Your opponent usually has an impact on your strategy. The type of player you are up against greatly influences your key strategy and tactics for each match. “Hard-hitters” and “pushers” are two common types of opponents. Hard hitters hit powerful shots, but they frequently make errors, so you should try to be as consistent as possible and rely on them to make more mistakes than you.

Pushers often camp out around the baseline and make slower shots, frequently with a slice, giving them plenty of recovery time and making it difficult to catch them out of position. You must keep your game consistent, but you must also take time away from them by stepping in and playing volleys or a drop shot as shown in the graphic below, especially when they are out of position in one of the corners and appear to be about to play a weaker shot. On their backhand side, most players hit weaker shots.

Tennis Strategy

Work The Backhand

Most players have some weaker shots than others. If the opposing 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 not permitted to use their (favored) forehand stroke.

Exploit Weaknesses

High-bouncing balls are disliked by some players (virtually no one likes a high ball on their backhand). Study your opponent. How do they handle overheads? How do they handle spin? What about drop shots? Is it a serve to the body or a backhand? You want to manipulate the game so that you can spend as much time as possible using your strongest weapons against your opponent’s weakest ones. Deep shots that land three or four feet from your opponent’s baseline are great. To maintain consistency, you want most of your shots to land deep but comfortably inside the court. Deep shots make it difficult for your opponent to play a winning shot and sometimes get them in trouble, especially if they are on their backhand. Pushing your opponent back allows you to go into the net and/or play a drop shot. Playing shots that only go into the half-court is generally a bad idea because a good opponent can easily take advantage of them.

Emphasize Crosscourt Shots

The court is longer, making it easier to return the ball the same way, and the net is lower in the center, making crosscourt shots less likely to go astray. 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 are going to your opponent’s stronger side (normally the forehand). The reasoning is that it allows your opponent to respond with a (relatively easy) crosscourt shot, and you will have to move a lot to stay in the point! Of course, hitting down the line can help keep your opponent moving or win a rally, but remember that hitting a crosscourt ball down the line is more difficult than hitting it back in the opposite direction.

Diagonals

Many players believe that they should return to their starting position in the center of the baseline after each shot. However, it is dependent on where your opponent is shooting from. The only exception is if they are hitting from a central position, in which case you should stand diagonally opposite them. If your opponent hits the ball from the right-back corner, you should stand on the left side and vice versa.

Tennis Strategy Diagonals

Forward Movement

Angles are important in tennis positioning. 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 be halfway between the net and the service line.

Netplay

If your opponent struggles with a shot around their baseline (for example, a deep high bouncer on their backhand), move into the net and complete the point. You should develop an instinct for when your opponent is about to play a weak shot that you can intercept at the net.

Angle Your Volleys

While at the net and your opponent is at their baseline, you should play aggressively, hitting deep to the corners or playing angled shots. Shooting down the middle should be avoided. It is conceivable to win with a single volley from a corner shot, but if you play down the middle, you risk losing momentum – or worse, giving them time to put together a winning lob or passing shot.

Change Up Your Serve

Even if you have a fantastic serve, your opponent will become accustomed to it and figure out the ideal location to stand when receiving. By changing up your serve’s placement, pace, and spin, you can keep your opponent guessing and make it more difficult for them to attack your serve.

Tennis Serve Strategy

Improve Your Weaknesses

Take note of which shots your opponents force you to play the most frequently. These are typically the shots that they believe are your weakest. After the game, you should go away and practice these shots. Working on your weaknesses 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 first and most popular tennis tactic in singles tennis. If your forehand is your strongest weapon, that’s the shot you’ll want to practice the most. If your strategy is to use your high percentage shot as much as possible, you’ll need some tactics to help you get there.

  • Pros: If your strength allows you to exploit your opponent’s weakness, you’ll be in command for most of the game.
  • Cons: Your strength may not be effective against an opponent and may even work against you. For example, if your best weapon is your serve, but your opponent has an incredible return of service, you won’t be able to win as many easy points.

As you might have guessed, playing to your strengths is most effective if it allows you to exploit your opponent’s weaknesses.

Hack Away

Playing tennis versus a hacker is one of life’s few more frustrating experiences. Hacking goes against almost all of the fundamentals of tennis that we are taught. Hackers are also known as “pushers” because their most effective strategy is to simply return the ball to the court. Hackers do not go for winners or alter their shot approach; Instead, they simply continue the rally and drive the opponent to make a mistake. Hackers are typically physically fit and prefer to play the long game to wear down an opponent and frustrate them into making unforced errors. If your opponent is outplaying you, hacking is a great way to get back into the game. It is especially effective against players who play with a powerful or aggressive style of play because it slows the pace of the tennis ball, which they require to generate winners.

  • Pros: Hacking gives you more control over your shots and eliminates mistakes; this strategy can also help frustrate and tire out your opponents. This strategy is an excellent backup plan for getting back into matches.
  • Cons: It doesn’t always work; good players can find ways to overwhelm hackers, and if they play aggressively, you can lose momentum rapidly.

Be Aggressive

Aggressive players typically have big serves and forehands, and they try to hit winners as often as possible. This strategy typically forces other players to play a similar game, and points are typically shorter rallies. Down-the-line shots and going for the lines are common strategies. This strategy is based on a powerful serve and one dominant groundstroke. It necessitates stepping onto the court and taking the ball early on.

  • Pros: When this strategy works, you’re unbeatable. You’ll hit low percentage shots, hit winners, force your opponent to make mistakes, and everyone watching will think you’re the next Wimbledon champion.
  • Cons: Because there is a larger margin for error, unforced errors are more common. You can frequently make a poor shot choice and lose a few points. If this begins to irritate you, it could be a quick match, and it will not be in your favor!

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 wideout. 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 on the opposite side of the 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—one-two-punch.

  • Pros: 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.
  • Cons: This style of attack is difficult to set up.
Tennis Strategy

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, it’s still beautiful to see well-crafted volleys and incredible passing shots. 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 winners. Moving your opponent to the net, where they may feel uneasy, may force them to make mistakes.

  • Pros: This strategy can quickly win points off of easy volleys. It has the potential to force your opponent to go for tough winners.
  • Cons: A bad shot to set this up could cost you a point.
Tennis Strategy Chip & Charge

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 balls, short balls, wide balls, low balls, high balls, fast balls, etc… They’ll never be able to be consistent in their approach.

  • Pros: You have complete control over the game and can force your opponent out of their comfort zone.
  • Cons: 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 makes a big difference in 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 very last point, so forget about the scoring system and focus on the strategies that will give you the best chance of winning the match.

Takeaway

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 have a tendency 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!