Punishing Game-plans

Written by David Sammel on . Posted in Tactical Analysis

Consistency

The biggest weapon you can have is the ability never to miss. It puts massive mental pressure on opponents, as they realise they will win very few cheap points off you and will have to work hard for every point.

Best exponents:- Michael Chang, Bjorn Borg, Mats Wilander, Chris Evert and Amanda Coetzer

 

Accuracy

Strive for accuracy with the length, width and height of your shots.

Width is a powerful weapon, because it makes your opponent run and opens up the court for you to penetrate.

Length is vital to stop your opponent being able to move forwards to attack you. Keeping your opponent pushed well back blunts their attacking possibilities and frustrates.

Height is vital as it gives you time (when you hit soft and high) and cuts out your chances of netting the ball. Putting height on the ball also forces your opponent to hit back balls bouncing above shoulder height, which blunts his attacking possibilities and tires him out.

Best Exponents: Ivan Lendl, Andre Agassi, Chris Evert, Martina Hingis and most good clay-court players.

Spin

Slice and topspin are two massive weapons in making your opponent tire and forcing them off the court. Heavy high-bouncing topspin makes opponent play balls above shoulder height and low-cutting slice forces them to bend. Both are tiring to play against.

Best Exponents:- Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario, Thomas Muster, all Spanish clay- courters.

Hitting the ball early

This is the tactic of modern groundstroke play. Taking the ball near, or at the top of the bounce robs opponents of valuable time, which can shake them out of their comfort zone and rush them into errors.

You must take up a position nearer the baseline and have better timing to do this. This is a devastating method of play when combined with length and accuracy.

Cutting into the net

Penetrating with a heavy groundstroke is also a great tactic to take advantage of any opportunity to take on the ball early.
§ Best exponents: Miroslav Mecir, John McEnroe, Andre Agassi, Martina Hingis, Jennifer Capriati, Marat Safin - most top players try to do this!!

Power

Hitting the ball harder clearly also takes time away from your opponent. It must be noted that power without control is useless. Hit the ball as hard as you know you can control it.

Best exponents:- Boris Becker, Ivan Lendl, Andre Agassi, the Williams sisters and Lindsay Davenport.

Serve and return

Focus at least 40% of your time on improving these. In Men's tennis, having a powerful and accurate serve is vital. Making your opponent play every return of serve is also very important in eroding the confidence of the server, who expects cheap points from his service games.

Potential squad work

Safety on groundstrokes:

Height and spin. Biomechanics to achieve this - ground reaction force (knee bend), linear and rotational power. How to get topspin. Contact point.

Cross-court theory (directionals) - not changing direction on the ball. Baseline mentality - don't be the one to force or take the risk - stay in the point - playing points with no winners allowed.

Cutting down time:

Moving quickly through mid court to the net - moving through the ball - ball is played at top of the bounce.

Playing closer to the baseline. Understanding when to move up and back.

Technique at the net - playing on the V to stop being passed easily. Body shape on volleys.

Developing your own game-plan:

Advantages. Clarity, commitment to perform a certain method of play, removal of nerves at key moments.


by Jim Edgar