How to Play Solid and Steady Tennis

  1. Manage the pace.  Play within yourself and your limits of control.  Take pace off the ball when feeling pressure by the pace of the rally.  Pick up the pace by taking the ball earlier and on the rise when the tempo is too slow.
  2. Hit for depth.  Hit high over the net with good clearance and aim to get the ball consistently past the service line (preferably within several feet of the baseline).
  3. Match direction and trajectory.  It’s much easier to stay in the rally by maintaining the direction of an oncoming shot (versus redirecting the shot at a different angle).  Likewise, it’s a smart play for consistency to maintain the same trajectory and flight path of an oncoming shot (versus changing the trajectory and flight path).
  4. Hit over the middle of the net.  Aiming over the middle of the net (over the center strap and the lowest height of the net) guarantees a high percentage response and sets up appropriate cross-court angles.
  5. Use spin.  Spin is the best way to keep the ball in play.  Topspin in particular allows for higher net clearance (and a higher margin for error) and allows you to hit through the ball with more pace without the risk of the ball sailing long.
  6. Get your first serve in.  Look to maintain at least a 70% first serve to apply pressure on your opponent(s) and to maintain your tempo and rhythm.
  7. Get the return back in play.  Getting the ball back in play with the intent of neutralizing the server is the best high percentage response to starting a point.  It’s important for rhythm, tempo and consistency and makes your opponent hit more balls.
  8. Maintain active feet and get into the set position as earlier as possible (ready, set, and hit).  Fine-tune your position to the ball with a number adjustment steps each and every shot.
  9. Hit crosscourt and set up points with cross-court patterns.
  10. Play the margins.  The basic goal for hitting with a high margin for error is to not make any mistakes in the net or out wide.

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