Strategy is important in any competitive sport, and tennis is no different. Using strategy, your child can take control of points and put themselves in a position to win them. If your child isn’t thinking about what to do with each ball they hit, then they are giving their opponent the advantage of dictating play. Without a strategy, all you can do is hope your child’s opponent is the first to miss the ball. In this post, we will go over some simple strategies that will help put your child in a better position to win more points. These strategies explain when to go for a big shot or winner, where to stand when up at the net, and when to come up to the net.
When to go for a big shot or winner (Opportunity balls)
There are only two scenarios where your child should be going for a big shot or trying to hit a winner.
The first is when their opponent hits a ball that brings your child off the court, out of position, and their opponent is at the net. In this scenario, if your child does not hit a winner or an incredible shot then they are almost guaranteed to lose the point. With this being the case, it is okay for your kid to go for a shot in hopes of stealing the point.
The second scenario is when your child can get their feet set inside the baseline, and they are in the middle third of the court (Shown in picture). If your child can step forward into a ball with ease, then they should look to hit a big shot to move their opponent out of position. It doesn’t have to be a winner but if they can get their opponent scrambling it puts your child in a better position to win the point.
(The Middle Third of the court)
Your child should try to limit themselves to these scenarios when trying to hit winners. Tennis is a game of percentages. If they take too many unnecessary risks, they will give away a lot of points which can end up costing them the match. Meanwhile, if they go for the big shots when they have the best chance of making them or when it’s their best chance of winning a point, your child will put themselves in the best position to win a match.
Following the ball while at net
One of the most important rules of playing tennis while up at net is to follow the ball. This means that if they hit the ball to the right side of the court, they need to follow their shot and cover the right side of the court (Shown below).
Or if they hit the ball to the left side of the court they need to follow their shot and cover the left side of the court (Shown Below).
This applies to approach shots as well. Wherever your child hits the approach, they must move to cover the sideline that they hit the ball closest too.
The reason why it’s important to follow the ball up at the net is that you want your child to take away your opponents easiest shot. It is much easier to pass someone down the line then it is to pass someone cross court. So to force the opponent to hit a shot, they are least likely to make your kid must cover the line. This will give them the highest chance of winning the point.
When to come up to net
There are many scenarios during which your child should come up to the net. If they approach the net at the at the right time, then they can significantly increase their chances of winning a point.
When the ball lands in the service box in the middle third of the court, your child should be hitting an approach shot and coming up to the net. This ball is a relatively easy one to hit, and your kid should be taking advantage of this opportunity to bully their opponent around.
(If the opponent’s ball lands in this area your child should approach)
If your child hits a great drop shot, they should follow it into the net. The reason for this is because their opponent will be out of position when they hit the ball. When your child is up at net, they can take advantage of this by not giving their opponent time to get into a good position. If they sit back at the baseline and wait, they give their opponent a better opportunity to get ready and hit a good shot.
When your child’s opponent hits a slice in the service boxes, then your child should be chipping and coming up to the net. In this scenario, it is better for your child to come to net because they will be able to get in position for the next ball faster if they go to the net than if they try to go back to the baseline. If they try to retreat, they will most likely be out of position and their opponent will be able to take advantage of them.
If your child can lob a ball over an opponent that is up at net, then they should come to the net and get ready to put the ball away. When anyone is running backward to a ball, their shot is almost guaranteed to be weak, and they will most likely be out of position. By coming up to the net, your child gives themselves the opportunity to take advantage of their opponents weak shot and positioning.
I hope this post was helpful! Please let me know in the comments below!