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Nailing the basics Part I

Tennis tactics simplified
By: Simon Grieve

Nailing The Basics

First in a series of articles looking at developing the basics in tennis

By Steve Jarret U18 Kent Boys County Cup Coach

These articles have been written to simplify a game that often gets over complicated; when all said and done it comes down to getting a fluffy yellow ball in-between three white lines!

'Coaches need an advanced understanding of the basics rather than a basic understanding of the advanced' Alistair Higham LTA Coaching Director

Often coaches and players get obsessed with having a technically sound game. A game that looks great perhaps at the expense of a game that is effective. Yes its great to have a technically solid forehand but remember tennis is a game pitting two opponents against each other. I want my players to be good intelligent competitors; I want my players to 'Look Over The Net' and work out how they can beat their adversary. Jimmy Conners had a very solid all round game, but without doubt his strength was the mental effort he put into matches. Remember his famous quote "I never lost a tennis match, I just ran out of time". Technique is important but so to is learning how to play the 'game'.

Below I have highlighted what I think are simple yet very effective thoughts to have during match play, I hope they help you or your players.

When Serving

1. If you miss two 1st serves in a row, hit the next serve as an aggressive second serve.

2. If you hit two serves in a row into the net or long, make sure you hit the next one into an opposite position.

3. If you are 40 love up, go for your first and second serve.

4. If you are 40/15 get your serve into your opponent’s weaker side (game point percentage play).

5. If you are 40/30 or advantage up, get the first three shots in play.

When Returning

1. Always bounce, look alert. LOOK THE LOOK AND WALK THE WALK.

2. On second serves step into the court and threaten the server.

3. When receiving first serves return cross-court.

4. When receiving a weak second serve pressurise your opponent.

5. If returning a good serve look to hit deep down the middle (big target area).

6. When game point up you must keep active to show your opponent you are up for the point, keep the pressure on by hitting your first three shots in.

During The Point

1. When behind the baseline build a big bridge

2. Any mid court balls run-a-round and hit your strength to your opponent’s weaker side.

3. If you lose two points in a row, take your time (20 seconds) before the next point.

4. Any really short balls attack and get into the net.

None of these points will blow your mind, however, I have always found it interesting to see if players think like this during match play. In my opinion most players do not have clear thought processes during competition because the pressure of matches can do strange things to the mind. Thinking like this during matches, 'looking over the net' and working out how to solve the problems your opponent is giving you, will definitely make you a tougher player to play a against!

Steve Jarrett is a performance tennis coach and tennis manager of the Tonbridge ITI Centre. Steve played competitive tennis at University of Texas, Pan America and has been the Kent boys U18 County Cup Coach for the past 11 years.

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