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Types of Opponents Part 3: The Power Baseliner

The power baseliner is similar to my style of play. This type of player would much rather hit winners from the baseline rather than come to the net.

An opponent who is a successful power baseliner hits the ball with a lot of pace and places the ball so that you are kept on the move. By doing so, your opponent is playing offensively and forcing you to play defensively.

How do you beat this type of opponent?

  1. Keep your shots deep.
  2. Try not to put the ball where your opponent is most comfortable and able to put it away.  To avoid this, use slice or a lot topspin to alter the height of the bounce.
  3. Force your opponent to hit a lot of balls until he or she eventually misses.
  4. Make your opponent come up to the net with slice or drop shots. Many power baseliners are not good at hitting volleys.
  5. Change up the speeds and spins on your shots to throw off your opponents timing.
  6. Attack at net. Many baseliners aren’t used to hitting passing shots and make errors.

Fancy Feet

It is incredible to watch as players run down balls that seem impossible to get to. It’s not just speed that gets them to the ball, but having good footwork can make all the difference.

The better your footwork the better tennis player you can be. With good footwork, you have the ability to cover a lot more of the court without being extremely fast, recover quicker after shots and help you prepare for the next shot.

Have you ever noticed that tennis players bounce on their toes before a point starts? That is where good footwear begins. If you start a point flat footed, you are already set to be a step behind. Being on your toes prepares you to move.

Two crucial steps a player needs to be able to do to have good footwork are the split step and the side shuffle step.

The split step is the first reaction to every shot. Players split step by jumping up in the air about inch or two by pressing your toes towards as they see their opponent is about to hit a shot. The split step in usually used you are returning serves, ground strokes, and approaching the net to play a volley.

The side shuffle step is used to move around the court. Between every shot players typically move back to the middle of the court. Rather than turn around and run back, they side shuffle. This allows players to be focused on their opponent while he or she hits the shot back to their side. The side shuffle also allows a player to move in any direction to play the next shot.

So if you are looking to take your game to the next level, be ready to work on some fancy footwork!

 

 

 

 

60% Mental, 40% Ability

Like many other sports, tennis is greatly affected by one’s mental game, and it has been a part of the game since the very beginning.

For some, the mental game is the hardest opponent to defeat. I know that I have walked off the court time and time again frustrated that I lost because I could not overcome what was going on in my mind.

So how do players deal with it? Countless books have been written, but here are a few basic tips players receive to help them be mentally ready for a match:

  • Rely on the rituals you develop in practice. For example, take a deep breath, bounce the ball twice, and then cock your racquet before serving. Do it every time that you serve. Be sure to slow down when you are feeling anxious. Most players tend to rush when they are nervous, so do the opposite.
  • Try to breath out when you hit the ball. This exhale will relax your muscles. Players often hold their breath under pressure and this will prevent that from occurring.
  • Rely on positive self-talk. Stay focused on the present-tense, with little concern over what has happened or what will happen. Instead, concentrate on what you need to do to win the very next point.
  • Avoid the tendency to focus on results, and instead concentrate on the process. Try to win the very next point. After that is done, win or lose, focus on how to win the very next point.

Do you think these techniques work to help players get over their mental road blocks?

Slice vs. Topspin

One of the major changes of the game has been the different types of shots used. Thirty years ago slice or backspin was the primary shot in tennis (besides hitting the ball flat). A slice ground stroke causes the ball to rotate backwards towards the person who hit the ball. The ball often stays low to the ground after it bounces. Slice shots can be good for making an opponent really stretch for a ball, but it is difficult to hit them with much pace.

Modern tennis is dominated by the use of topspin shots. A ball with topspin rotates forward toward the opponent as it travels through the air. This allow for players to hit with much more pace while still keeping the ball in. Because of the rotation of the ball, players can also hit the ball over the net higher and expect it to still go in.

An experienced tennis player would integrate both types of shots into play using each shot strategically throughout points.

But, if I had to choose just one shot to use, I would pick topspin. I have been raised in the topspin era and love to see the ball sail three feet over the net and drop in at the baseline.

Check out these videos of slice and topspin: