How to Get Every Ball Back Into Play

Here are a series of pointers on how to be more consistent in competitive match play (or how to execute an error-free, ultra-consistent game plan).

  1. Adopt the right frame of mind.  Be positive and expect the ball to go over (and in) whenever you get a racquet on the ball.
  2. Work the dimensions of the court and the net in your favor by hitting crosscourt, over the low part of the net and to the middle two-thirds of the court. Hit to established big target areas (hitting windows and targets providing the highest likelihood for success).
  3. Take pace off the ball with spin whenever the pace of the rally exceeds your comfort zone.
  4. Be patient, persistent and relentless. Be prepared to “grind” and increase your rally shot tolerance (the number of shots you can hit in a rally before “bugging out”).
  5. Never ever, ever, ever make a mistake in the net (or for that matter, hit the ball wide left or right of the sidelines).
  6. Get air under the ball and raise your net clearance to four to seven feet above the net with your basic rally shots.
  7. Don’t force it (by trying to make the spectacular shot or perfect pass). Make your opponent hit that one extra shot (even if it is a sitter). You may get pummeled early in a match with a few shots but rarely late in a match (particularly if the score is close).
  8. Learn how to stretch and reach (with flexibility, balance, strength and core stability), hit from an open stance and slide (on clay) to get a racquet on each and every ball.
  9. Establish a strong bond between your hand(s) and the racquet face. Think of the racquet as an extension of your hand.  Establish the feel and control to be able to adjust the angle of your racquet face as required to get the ball back in play.  Very often (particularly in “scramble mode”), it is the ability to open the face in response to the ball to be able to get the ball back in play (and extend the rally).
  10. Pay attention to your mechanics. Maintain fluidity with your stroke patterns.  Establish an extended swing and weight transfer in bringing the racquet through the hitting zone.

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