(How to eliminate unforced errors and keep the ball in play with confidence.)
- To increase your margin for error, aim to hit each ball over the center strap (middle or low part of the net).
- Hit to the largest target areas or target areas with the most shot directional allowance (which translates to hitting predominantly cross court).
- Maintain high net clearance for high margin and consistency. Hit four to seven feet above the net on most rally balls. Use net clearance to establish depth and to buy more time (particularly when pressured by the tempo or pace of the rally).
- Maintain rally direction when hitting from a neutral or defensive court position. Only hit for redirection when hitting from an advantageous court position (e.g., when hitting from inside the baseline).
- Set a goal to never make a mistake in the net or outside of the singles (doubles) sidelines. Make your opponent(s) hit more balls.
- Stay in the point. Develop a high shot threshold with patience to hit as many shots as necessary to win the point.
- Actively engage your feet. Take multiple adjustments to get into the best possible position to hit each shot. At the same time, maintain core balance and stability in moving to the ball to maximize groundstroke efficiency.
- Manage the pace and tempo of the rally. Learn to take pace off the ball and/or create more air under the ball when the pace of the rally is becoming too difficult to sustain.
- Use spin (particularly topspin) to increase your margin.
- Mirror or match trajectory and spin (i.e. hit high and loopy in response to a ball hit high and loopy).
10a Practice with a purpose. Continuously work on your ability to respond to varying pace, spin, depth, etc. Look for opportunities to hit whenever possible with whoever is willing to hit. Use this time on the court to learn how to keep rallies alive no matter the hitting style and ability of your hitting partners.