Ten Ways to Kill a Rally

Identified below are ten ways to kill a rally. Please be forewarned, each way or tactic is not without some risk and may lead to adverse results (particularly if utilized with a general lack of patience and/or bad timing). These ways or tactics may be used for good (to win a point or multiple points in a tennis match) or for evil (to make it nearly impossible for you to have a friendly cooperative rally exchange with a hitting partner).

  1. Change the height of the ball (either lower or raise the height of the ball).
  2. Change the depth of your shot. Hit deeper in the court (with higher net clearance) to push your opponent (or hitting partner) back into a defensive position. Draw your opponent (or hitting partner) into the net with a shorter ball (even a drop shot) to position your opponent (or hitting partner) to a more uncomfortable and vulnerable spot on the court. This tactic is particularly effective when followed by a drive hit with pace or a lob.
  3. Change the speed of your shot. Increase the pace of your shot to give your opponent (or hitting partner) less time to respond. Take pace off the ball (most easily accomplished with underspin) to throw your opponent (or hitting partner) off balance.
  4. Change the ball dynamics (spin). Hit with more or less topspin (and/or underspin).
  5. Redirect the ball in a different direction. Take a ball hit cross-court and redirect it down-the-line. Take a ball hit down-the-line and redirect it cross court. Redirect your shots to the weak side of your opponent (or hitting partner) for maximum damage and enjoyment.
  6. Take the ball earlier on the bounce (hit the ball on the rise) to give your opponent (or hitting partner) less time to respond. Fall back and take the ball later after the bounce to disrupt rhythm and timing.
  7. Hit the ball where your opponent (or hitting partner) is not. Move your opponent (or hitting partner) left and right, up and back. If you are particularly evil and skillful, you can actually extend the rally (or at least not kill the rally until a time of your choosing) while moving your opponent (or hitting partner) relentlessly all over the court. What could be more fun than that?
  8. Hit from a different court position. Move inside the baseline to take balls earlier on the bounce. Close inside the service line to hit volleys and overheads.
  9. In a more macro outlook, change your style of play and tempo with each rally or series of rally exchanges. As an example, hit with consistency, relatively high net clearance and depth in one exchange and then in the next exchange hit with more pace and a lower trajectory.
  10. If all else fails, rely on more devious (or fun depending on your outlook in life) strategies, such as mixing in a few dead balls or stomping your feet after hitting a shot. And if your intention is evil (when hitting in a “friendly” exchange), start the rally out with most difficult feed imaginable.

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