Here are my Top Ten Tips for improving your Singles and Doubles games. Check out my Tennis Tip of the Month under POSTS on the right hand side of my Homepage for a new, more detailed tip every month.
1. On your forehand and backhand groundstrokes make sure you hit the ball out in front of you. Hitting in front means you’ll get maximum power, better control, and will open up more angles for your shots than if you hit when the ball’s by your side.
2. Make sure you throw the ball high enough when you serve. Top players stretch up with their arm fully extended on contact, ensuring they put everything into their serves. Club players often serve with bent arms, simply because they don’t throw the ball high enough to allow them to get their arm fully extended.
3. If you have a single-handed backhand and you’re having problems, it’s most likely caused by hitting with a bent arm. Make sure your arm’s straight on contact for a more controlled and more powerful shot.
4. Make sure you have a full follow through on your groundstrokes. A short follow through means that your racket is decelerating when you strike the ball, rather than accelerating through the ball. This means you’ll lose power, the ball will land short in your opponent’s court, and you’ll lose control. A full follow through will get more on the ball and lead to greater consistency as well.
5. Practice your volleys and net game. Tennis today is dominated by big serves and powerful groundstrokes, but there are lots of cheap points to be had by going to the net and forcing your opponent to get the ball past you. If you’re a competent volleyer it will put a lot of pressure on them to come up with the goods.
6. If you have a shot where you can pressurise your opponent look to use it as much as you can. Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal both have powerful forehands and will run round their backhands to use them whenever they can. You should do the same.
7. Always hit with spin if you can. Using topspin or slice will give you more control, and enable you to hit out more confidently. Try for more spin in your practice matches or practice sessions.
8. If you’re break point down when serving, take a little bit off your first serve and make sure you get it in play. Your opponent’s mindset will be less aggressive waiting for a first serve, and this will give you the chance to take control of the rally.
9. If you have break point on your opponent’s serve always get your return of serve in play and make your opponent play the ball. Once you’ve got the serve back you’re in with a chance of winning the point, and the pressure’s all on your opponent.
10. Don’t Change A Winning Game, Always Change A Losing Game. If you’re winning a match continue playing the same way. Don’t experiment or see if you can do better by changing something – stick with whatever got you into that winning position. If, on the other hand, you’re losing doing whatever you’re doing, change things around, try something different. Don’t continue down the same losing path.
1. Talk to your partner regularly and positively. Let your partner know what you are going to do with your serve or return of serve, if you’re going to intercept, etc. Complement them on good play, don’t moan or groan if they miss a shot.
2. Go to the net whenever possible. In doubles it’s much easier to hit a winning volley than a winning passing shot.
3. Only go for an interception when you can put the ball away or put your opponents under increased pressure. Never intercept just to keep the ball in play.
4. Don’t go for the down the line return of serve too often, and, when you do, tell your partner beforehand so he/she can anticipate your opponent’s likely response.
5. Call positively to each other – ‘Mine’, ‘Yours’, ‘Out’, ‘Leave’ – whatever the call make it loud and clear. If your partner calls ‘Yours’, confirm the call by replying ‘Okay’, ‘Got it’, or something similar.
6. If your partner is pulled wide move more towards the centre of the court to avoid leaving a big hole down the middle.
7. Don’t run after every ball, then shout ‘Yours!’ when you can’t reach it. Trust your partner to make the shot and prepare for the next shot in the rally.
8. Use the lob as an attacking shot, and as a defensive shot when necessary.
9. Don’t be the glory seeker who has to hit the winner. You and your partner are in it together. You win as a team, you lose as a team. Don’t let your ego get in the way.
10. Accept that your opponents are capable of hitting good shots and playing well. If they’re outthinking or outmanoeuvring you it’s not necessarily because you’re not playing well – it could just be that they’re playing better than you.