Tag Archives: tennis strategy

SMT Daily Tip #7: Benefits of the Swinging Volley

(Note that these are not my videos, but videos that I found)

The swinging volley is a very aggressive shot where you are hitting the ball out of the air with a normal groundstroke. Players commonly use this shot to capitalize on high-floating returns. The benefits that you can reap from using the swinging volley is cutting time away from your opponent. Being able to hit this shot will ,without a doubt, give you an offensive advantage over your opponent.

However, why can’t you just put the high-floating ball away with a volley? Of course you can, and that is up to you. If you think that hitting a volley will surely put the ball away and is a safer route, then go for it. Though, the potent upside of the swinging volley compared to the regular punch volley is that it is much easier to put the ball away due to the high pace you would be imparting on the ball since you are practically hitting a groundstroke.

Also, being able to hit a swinging volley is an indicator of good technique; it demonstrates that you are able to drive through the ball well. In fact, practicing swinging volleys is commonly used for developing groundstroke technique and power.

The swinging volley is definitely a specialty shot that should be a part of your arsenal. Being able to hit the shot will give you more confidence in your offensive game and you will find yourself being able to absolutely dominate the high balls that pushers often hit to you. Although the swinging volley is a great tool and is flashy, it should be used wisely. If you can certainly put the ball away with a volley then do that instead. If you are confident enough that you can hit the swinging volley, then by all means do it, for it is a message to your opponent that floating balls back is not the answer to winning against you.

Employ the swinging volley today and notice a notable improvement in your offensive game. Hope you found this information helpful and feel free to ask any questions regarding your game!

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SMT Daily Tip #6: Safest Shots to Hit When Pulled Out Wide

What are the safest shots to hit when your opponent pulls you out wide?

The safest shots to hit when you are put in this type of danger are: the down-the-line loop and the loop down the middle.

Looping the ball DTL allows you to have more time to recover back and restart the rally. Also, looping the ball DTL is much safer than hitting it flat DTL since you are clearing the net by a large margin. If the shot is done correctly and lands deep in the court then it will be really difficult for your opponent to hit an offensive shot. In fact, because it is deep and is placed far from where your opponent hit his/her shot, your opponent might get pushed back behind the baseline, potentially putting him/her in the defensive depending on how he/she hits the ball. If not, the least you can get out of looping the ball back DTL is restarting the rally, making this shot selection very potent.

Looping the ball down the middle is also considered a safe shot. This is because when you aim it down the middle, you are clearing the lowest part of the net and the chances of the ball landing out wide are practically zero. The benefits you can reap from this shot are: more recovery time and – if hit deep enough – a high chance to restart the rally. This shot selection is commonly used clearly for its safeness and being easily executable. However, do not use this shot every time, for your opponent will catch on and take it out of the air with a swinging-volley.

Now, the key component that these two shots have that make them effective is that they must be hit deep! Depth is absolutely crucial. If they are not hit deep enough, then this allows your opponent to hit another offensive shot.

In conclusion, it is important that you learn to utilize both of these defensive shots since they are the safest shots that can get you out of a losing position. With these shots, your game, without a doubt, will become more solid. And remember, depth is crucial.

I hope this was helpful! Feel free to leave comments or questions regarding your game below. I will be glad to answer all of them!

SMT Daily Tip #5: Work on Your Sharp-Angled Shots!

If you want to take your defensive game – and even offensive game – to the next level, learning how to hit sharp angles is very valuable.

Being able to hit sharp-angled cross-court forehands and backhands gives you a major advantage against net players. With such a shot in your arsenal, you can pass them with ease and shatter their net-approach tactic.

(This video example may be a little extreme but gets the point across)

(Also check out the point starting at 2:00)


On top of that, being able to hit this shot enables you to hit winners that you’ve never been able to really hit before. Even if you end up not hitting a winner with this shot, you can pull your opponent way off the court which will give you absolute dominance over the point from then on.

(Check out the point at 1:36)

As you can see, being able to hit sharp angles will definitely up your whole game, so I highly encourage that everyone makes an effort to practice this shot and eventually have it be a part of your arsenal. Go out on the court and give it a go!

Feel free to leave any questions; I will be glad to answer them!

SMT Quick Tip #4: Playing Closer to the Baseline

 

Kei Nishikori, known for being an aggressive baseliner, hugs the baseline as much as possible throughout this point. Here, Nishikori perfectly displays the advantages of playing close to the baseline: cutting time away from the opponent, being able to hit winners easily, and overall having more control over the point.  It literally appeared like Nishikori was bossing Nadal around on the court. In fact, Nishikori won this match.

Keep in mind that you should not be hugging the baseline 24/7. You can probably get away with this on your serve but when on your opponent’s serve, come up to the baseline only when the opportunity presents itself. This is for obvious reasons. Say your opponent hits a serve nearly out of your reach and you float it back. Is it really smart to hug the baseline then? No, you should get farther behind the baseline and defend. Though, if you are able to hit a damaging return, be prepared to capitalize on the next set of shots by coming up closer to the baseline. You can also creep up to the baseline on your opponent’s second serve. Or even during a rally, if you know you just hit a damaging shot, step into the court.

It all comes down to being strategic and having good instinct about this when you play. Knowing when to defend and especially step in is something that should be emphasized in practices. When you can constantly step into the court and hug the baseline when the time presents itself, your game will improve significantly – all of a sudden, you are raking in more winners, wearing down your opponent side to side, and winning more points (especially against troublesome defenders) as a result.

Hope this information was helpful! If you have any questions or if you need help on your game leave a comment below, or email me – simplemoderntennis@gmail.com

Power On Our Groundstrokes

In today’s professional game, power in players’ strokes have become a paramount factor in determining their success/potential. Players are unable to apply pressure to their opponents without enough power. In fact, people who do not have enough power are the ones who are most likely to get pushed around. Being unable to produce power, hitting winners become more difficult and thus you end up having to rely only on your opponent’s errors in order to win points.

Power really adds another dimension to your game: being able to hit winners at will and applying enormous amounts of pressure onto your opponent at even unpredictable times – it just profoundly enhances your game and makes tennis less of a grind. However, of course, using power tends to strongly correlate with making errors but the benefits of possessing power greatly outweighs this con.

Take a look at Ferrer’s match with Djokovic at the Australian Open 2013 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EN4Q2zu4oyY). Compared to Djokovic, Ferrer has no real fire power. What makes things worse is that his ball speed never really changes and that is the reason why having power is so important. With power comes a larger range of gauging your ball speed. What makes gauging ball speed so advantageous is that your play becomes more unpredictable and the opponent will always be on his/her toes. Ferrer is a clear example of how damaging it is not changing ball speeds. Just look at Djokovic! Producing winners left and right, Djokovic throughout the whole match was in such a smooth balance and a fantastic rhythm. What makes it an even worse of a nightmare for Ferrer is that Djokovic can willingly power up his shots. It is just clear that Ferrer is always at a huge disadvantage going up against Djokovic, and the rest of the top guys.

On the other hand, Djokovic masterfully demonstrates why power is an important asset to be at the very top of the game. With power – whenever he sees an opening during the rally – he can end the point right then and there. Many instances during this match Djokovic would be hitting his typical rally-ball and then out of nowhere he will inject a lot of pace into the ball. As a result,  Ferrer will be caught completely off-guard and be put on the defensive. This is something Ferrer can not do as well as others. However, his fitness and machine-like consistency makes up for it – enough to keep him in the top 10 for many years now.

Although having power is not absolutely necessary, it’s an important dimension that can make points less physically burdening instead of having to grind out points continuously.

The Simple Truth of the Game of Tennis

People make out tennis to be a very complicated sport. If you think about it, it’s not at all complicated, but rather a simple game. Of course there are many elements pertaining to the sport such as: power, directions, the serve, the return, the groundstrokes, volleys, touch, footwork, mentality, defense, and offense. However, at the end of the day, the person who gets the ball back one more time than his opponent is the winner. All of these elements listed are just products that aid you in accomplishing this objective. The ones who understand this the most are probably defensive players. Their main strategy is to return as many balls back as possible while playing a very safe and consistent game. With incredible fitness, these guys are menacing.

Murray on defense

Andy Murray is a prime example of a defensive player with prodigious fitness. When you watch this guy, notice his tactics against most players; he plays a rather safe game, simply just trying to out-rally his opponent most of the time. The reason why he does this is because he possesses a great deal of stamina – he knows that he can outlast about 95% of the people on tour. Furthermore, take a look at Federer, Nadal and Djokovic. These guys’ defense are also out of this world. Of course the three are aggressive when they can be (especially Federer) but they grew up playing the game defensively. Look at where they are now; they reign at the top of the game because they developed this kind of foundation. They understand that at the end of the day, it is all about the person who gets one more ball back.

Obviously every player knows this but do they actually truly execute it? No, they tend to lean their interests towards hitting winners or looking flashy which makes them prone to making unforced errors. These are the guys who have their good days/streaks and bad days/streaks. The guys who reign at the top are hanging up there because they are the ones who are consistently able to get one more ball back than their opponents can.

Check out this match of Grigor Dimitrov v. Andy Murray at the 2015 Australian Open (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rJH0hxrMCCc)

Notice how aggressive Dimitrov chooses to play in the first set. In the beginning he appears to be slaughtering Murray, hitting volleys past him and pummeling winners left and right. However, Murray still comes out on top in the first set because he’s the one getting the ball back one more time than Dimitrov does. In the second set, Dimitrov’s aggressive game varied in success throughout. At the beginning of the set, his aggressive game went against him, producing too many errors that put him down a break. Though, later in the set, his aggressive game began to pay off as he was able to win the set in the tie-break. Then, it began to become clear in the third set that Murray was the more consistent player with better timely controlled aggression compared to Dimitrov, winning the set 6-4. The fourth set was devastating. Dimitrov’s aggression in the beginning was on a roll, taking him up a break 5-2. However, once again Dimitrov was not able to keep this level of play up as Murray breaks back and soon afterwards at 5-5, Dimitrov concedes the break to Murray with a heartbreaking double fault. Up 6-5, Murray ends this match with a 6/4 7/6 6/4 7/5 victory. Watching this match just shows that aggression is only a factor of the answer and that getting one more ball back than your opponent is the answer. If someone is able to get to every ball and return every shot, then that person would be virtually impossible to defeat.

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The Importance of Having a Transition and Net Game [Tennis Tactics and Efficiency]

Kei Nishikori

Many people tend to overlook volleys, deeming them not as important as groundstrokes. While that may be true, without a transitional net game, becoming successful on the tour or even in college is very difficult. Take UCLA’s Gage Brymer for example. Ranked one nationally and being a three time Ojai CIF champion, he was a phenom in the juniors. Many people expected him to play somewhere at the top of the line-up (Single’s 1 to 3) for UCLA because of his tremendous results in the juniors. However, he ended playing the number 4 or 5 spot. Why was this the case? If you watch Brymer’s matches when he was a junior and especially in college, notice how he rarely ever transitions to the net. His match with Mkrtchian (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qb6mFdhkHic) is a prime example of his reluctance to approach. In many instances throughout the match, he would hit a damaging shot that would force a weak return capable of being easily volleyed away, but what does he do? He remains at the baseline, and you can even tell that he gives it a thought before he makes the decision. Mkrtchian ends up winning this match. While part of the reason may be because Brymer’s baseline game was not at its usual level that day, Mkrtchian was the one who utilized his transitional net game to great effect. His groundstrokes are not as good as Brymer’s, but what places Mkrtchian at #2 or #3 singles is his ability to attack the net and seize good opportunities, efficiently ending points.

 

On the pro tour, it is inevitable that to be successful, players must have a transition game. Having that kind of efficiency not only expends less energy, but it also makes you more unpredictable. Without a doubt, the top four (Djokovic, Nadal, Federer, and Murray) are the most efficient players on tour. If they know one of their shots will yield a weak shot, they know immediately to begin transitioning up the court to take full advantage. A notable player who has improved this aspect of his game is Kei Nishikori. He has made a tremendous stride on the rankings, beginning at #20 in 2014 and ending the year in the top 5.

 

In his match against Tomic at Brisbane 2015, Kei Nishikori demonstrates clearly his improved efficiency by attacking the net and seizing the moment whenever the opportunity arises. Check out these timed videos to see how he transitions effectively.

 

https://youtu.be/fSVgdMjmVGQ?t=144 (Kei Nishikori yields a weak return with his serve, takes full advantage of it by hitting a forehand approach, and puts away the next ball with an easy volley)

https://youtu.be/fSVgdMjmVGQ?t=224 (Nishikori serves to Tomic’s backhand, sees that Tomic floats the ball back, Nishikori quickly sees the opportunity and comes in puts away the ball with a volley)

https://youtu.be/fSVgdMjmVGQ?t=334 (Nishikori throws down a big serve, Tomic as a result is stretched and can only put his racket out to float the ball back, Nishikori is quick to act on this and sets up a swinging volley followed with a volley winner)

https://youtu.be/fSVgdMjmVGQ?t=436 (Serve stretches Tomic outside. Nishikori knows that if Tomic were to get the serve back, his next shot will be even more damaging. Tomic does get the serve back so Nishikori is ready with a  backhand approach. He knows that the backhand approach will force a very weak return and so he will proceed to the net to end the point with a volley, and in this case it is an elegant drop volley.)

 

Nishikori, despite not having the biggest serve on tour, still has a very efficient serving game. He knows what does damage and is very well aware of how to best capitalize on weak shots. This is what all pros essentially know how to do and is what separates the level of tennis from college/juniors. Albeit having a great baseline game is heavily advocated, many tennis players tend to overlook how important having a transition game actually is, let alone possessing decent volleys.