Control Your destiny on the Court by Focusing on the Things You Can Control

Here are nine basic control variables for tennis which define your choices and options for each and every shot.  These nine control variables can also serve as frameworks to define your capabilities and to help you (or your coach/professional) construct a game plan for your development as a player.

  1. Ball Control Variable #1 (Direction) – Here are the choices: Hit cross-court. Hit down-the-line. Maintain direction. Change direction (redirection)
  2. Ball Control Variable #2 (Depth) – The choices are: Hit short. Hit to the mid court. Hit deep.
  3. Ball Control Variable #3 (Net Clearance) – Your options are: Hit with low clearance over the net. Hit with medium clearance over the net. Hit with high clearance over the net. Hit higher still (with a lob).
  4. Ball Control Variable #4 (Spin) – You can differentiate spin by: Hitting flat (little or no spin). Hitting with topspin (slight to extreme). Hitting with underspin (slight to extreme). Hitting with sidespin (slight to extreme). Varying spin. Combining spin (as applicable for each stroke).
  5. Ball Control Variable #5 (Pace) – As defined by your range of capability, the options are: Hit softly with slow pace. Hit with moderate or medium pace. Hit hard and fast. Maintain pace (hit it back at the same speed or velocity). Vary pace by taking pace off the ball (hit it back slower). Vary pace by adding pace to the ball (hit it back faster).
  6. Ball Control Variable #6 (Bounce) – Using a combination of pace, net clearance and spin, work the ball so that it responds with a high bounce, responds with a low bounce, responds with something in between a high and low bounce, projects or carries into the court with a varying level of force or stops and does not carry or project into the court.
  7. Ball Control Variable #7 (Point of Contact/Timing of Contact in Relation to the Bounce) – In relation to the bounce or flight of the ball, the choices are: Hit the ball at the peak of the bounce. Hit the ball as the ball is dropping. Hit the ball as the ball is rising (hit the ball on the rise). Hit the ball before the bounce (with a volley).
  8. Ball Control Variable #8 – (Point of Contact/Timing of Contact in Relation to Your Body) – In relation to your body and strike zone (which varies depending on whether you’re taking the ball after the bounce or before the bounce), adjust your feet and position to hit the ball below your strike zone, hit the ball at your strike zone (preferable) or hit the ball above your strike zone
  9. Ball Control Variable #9 – (Point of Contact/Timing of Contact in Relation to Your Position on the Court) – Adjust your feet and position on the court to give your opponent more or less time to respond by hitting the ball progressively further back away from the net or baseline or hitting the ball progressively closer into the court and towards the net.
  10. In conclusion…

So if the ball comes to you, what do you do?

The only things within your capabilities you can do.

You hit the ball left or you hit the ball right.

You hit the ball up and deep or perhaps short with only a little flight.

You hit the ball fast or you hit the ball slow.

And possibly with less or more spin for a decisive blow.

You make the ball bounce up or make the ball bounce low.

You make the ball carry into the court or create extra bite to make the ball go real slow.

But most importantly, you make the ball bounce in as most of you should know.

You close to take the ball in or fade back to take the ball late.

You hit the ball on the bounce early or hold your ground and wait.

All of which sets the match tempo in your control leaving nothing to fate.

So if the ball comes to you, what do you do?

Go with what you know, keep things simple and have a plan.

And remember to maintain control and play to your abilities as only you can.

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