Tennis is a sport where the results of a match can come down to a handful of critical points. If your child is going for low percentage shots (shots that they will miss more than they make) at inopportune times, it can cause them to lose the big points in a match. Playing the right shots at the right times is crucial to any tennis player’s game. A good tennis player is going to make balls and play the percentages to make sure they are in the best position possible to win. Once your child learns when to hit certain shots, they will instantly increase their win percentage.
Before we learn what kinds of shots your child should try to hit in certain situations, it is important to know why kids will go for shots they shouldn’t hit.
When kids are nervous, they tend to either push and hit slow high balls even when they have the opportunity to attack or go for winners when they shouldn’t because they want the point to be over.
When kids get tired, they tend to go for winners or hit the ball extra hard to try to end the point early. Children hit these high-risk balls because they don’t think they can win a point if it goes on for more than a couple of shots. So instead of grinding it out and waiting for an opportunity to attack they try to force the point and hit a winner or a big ball early leading to more unforced errors than points won.
Kids often make poor shot selections because they have yet to learn the right shot to hit. Below are shots to hit in some of the most common situations so that your child can start incorporating percentage tennis into their game.
When Pulled Out Wide
When kids are pulled out into the doubles alley, they tend to try to hit their way out of it by hitting a big ball. While this can work if they are successful, hitting a big ball while running out wide is a low percentage shot, and they will miss it more then they make it. The best thing to do when out wide is to hit a high loopy ball cross court. The high ball will give them more time to get back in position for the next ball.
When Their Opponent Is Up At Net
Having an opponent up at the net can be intimidating and can often lead to players trying to hit a tough shot when they don’t have to, often creating an error. Your child should only go for a winner in this situation if their feet are set. The winner can either be cross court or a down the line when they are out wide depending on which one your child is more comfortable with. Hitting the ball hard right at a person up at the net is always a good choice as well since it is a relatively easy shot to make and can set your child up for a winner on their second shot. If your child is on the run while their opponent is up at net, the best thing they can do is hit a lob. A lob will give them time to get back into position on the court and has a high margin for error, so they will make that shot more then they miss it. If your child is not on the run, but their feet aren’t set then they should try to hit the ball at their opponents feet. This is a relatively easy shot to hit since they don’t have to hit it hard and if they can keep it low, the opponent will have a tough time putting it away giving your child another shot at a pass.
When To Go For Big Shots (Opportunity Balls)
If your child is well inside the baseline of the court, can make contact with the ball while it is above net level, and has their feet set, then it is okay for them to attempt to hit a winner. This is called an opportunity ball. However, if they miss it a few times, they should turn this shot into an approach shot instead and look to finish the point up at the net.
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