How to Play on Clay – Singles

  1. Use the surface to slide into the shot when pressured in moving left, right, up and back.
  2. Maintain active feet (with a number of adjustment steps) to cover potentially difficult bounces (inherent in clay court play).
  3. Be patient and recognize that it takes longer to construct a point. Be prepared to “grind” and hit that one extra shot to extend the rally and win the point.
  4. Get your first serve in play. It’s difficult to attack with the serve (force a return error).  Use the serve to get into the point and pin your opponent back behind the baseline.
  5. Hit with heavier topspin (particularly on your rally ball) to take advantage of the higher bounce on clay.
  6. Never quit on a shot. The slower and higher bounce on clay composition courts leads to a better ability to run and track down the ball.
  7. Maintain a higher than average net clearance with your groundstrokes. It’s difficult on a clay composition court to hit through the court with groundstrokes (particularly when hitting from a deeper court position).  It’s better to hit higher over the net (with a high margin of error) and wait for the opportunity to attack off a short ball.
  8. As part of an overall strategy of high percentage play (which is necessary on clay), hit cross court and for depth to set up the point.
  9. Continuing on the strategic front, use guile rather than brawn as the mainstay of your game plan. Work the point with cross-court/down-the-line (redirection), short and deep angle, high/low, varying spin and varying pace patterns of play.  Aggressive “go for the early first strike” and “rush and crush” tactics don’t work for most players and for most situations on clay.
  10. On the psychological front, adopt a resilient and tough on-court personality and presence. Clay court tennis requires perseverance, fortitude and tenaciousness.

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