Sometimes stating the obvious doesn’t seem as important as some complicated strategy or game plan that the experts promote. In Brad Gilbert’s Winning Ugly, he basically encourages the player to make shots, especially at the beginning of the match. Most players are not at 100 percent mentally or physically until they get in the heat of the match. Simply making shots can produce a lot of unexpected errors from your opponent in this situation.
Hitting balls on the court can work wonders for your confidence as well. The more balls you make, the more you will be able to challenge yourself to hit a bit harder, a little deeper or closer to the lines, and in general, more aggressively. You can also make more balls by keeping a lot of your shots centered-close to the middle of the court. This gives you more of a chance to clear the net and hit several balls in a row, increasing the likelihood of winning the point.
This “hit the ball on the court” mentality is becoming more and more common at the top of the game. Novak Djokovic gives the opponent a steady diet of deep and down the middle return of serves, followed by a couple of groundstrokes hit aggressively towards the middle, and then finally spreading out the court.
Try this idea in your next match and watch your opponent struggle to hit more balls on the court than you do.
Steve Annacone, USPTA Elite Pro, is the Director of Annacone Tennis, www.annaconetennis.com and MyHamptonsPro, www.myhamptonspro.com throughout the Hamptons, NY. In addition, Steve and Miguel Coelho have introduced the JET (Junior Elite Tennis) program at the Tucson Jewish Community Center (Tucson, AZ) for high level players ages 8-18. Please contact Steve at email@example.com.