Tennis is a very difficult, nuanced game. Most recreational players make very simple strategic mistakes, very regularly, leading to WAY more unforced errors than they need to be making. Here are the top 10 mistakes made on the tennis court, and quick fixes for all of them.
1. Trying to hit winners from behind the baseline
When you are behind the baseline, try and stay in the rally, and wait for a short ball to be aggressive. When you try and crush a winner from the back of the court, more often than not, you will either make a silly error, or hit a shot far less effective than you would when waiting for an appropriate short ball.
2. Hitting your first serve with the same pace all match
Mix up the pace and type of first serves you are hitting throughout the match. Throw in some slice, kick, and flat serves, and at different paces. Your opponent will never get comfortable knowing exactly what is coming at them, giving you better chances to regularly take control of your service points.
3. Playing every point regardless of the score
This is huge! Always play to the score of the match. You should play the point completely differently if you are up 5-1, 40-0 than if it is 4-4, Deuce. On the bigger points, always try to stay in the rally longer, giving your opponent more chances to miss rather than going for a winner and coughing up the point unnecessarily. Have as much fun as you like going for big, risky shots when you have a cushion.
4. Trying to put away overheads from behind the service line
Sure, hitting a highlight reel overhead winner from no-mans-land is fun, but it’s also not the smart shot. You’re much better off playing for position, or letting it bounce and hitting a comfortable shot. You’re not Federer, believe it or not.
5. Being unaware of weather and surface conditions
This may sound simple, but the surface you are playing on and the weather conditions should play a huge role in how you approach each match and any given point. Indoors, you can play riskier tennis as the conditions are controlled. When it’s windy, you want to play more margin on all your shots. On clay, be prepared for longer points and more balls coming back. When it is sunny, make sure you know how it will affect your toss and serve on both the deuce and ad side on both of the courts. You may need to modify your toss or the type of serve and pace you are hitting. We could go on about this subject for a while, but you get the gist… play smart!
6. Swinging on high floating volleys
Play these high, easy balls as you would any other volley. You will be able to put yourself in a great position regardless of how hard you can hit the volley. Play the smart shot and don’t give away free points when you are clearly in a position to take control.
7. Hitting drop shots from behind the baseline
This one is pretty self explanatory. Again, you’re not Roger Federer. These almost always result in either hitting the ball in the net, or floating up an easy short ball for your opponent to put away.
8. Hitting balls in the net
You already know this is a no-no, so cut it out! Obviously, it is bound to happen sometimes, but you need to give the ball a chance to go in. If you hit it in the net, you never had a chance. Miss long, always.
9. Playing with a game plan that’s not in your arsenal
Always play within yourself. Hit the shots that you are comfortable with, and play percentages. If cross court forehands are your strongest shot, hit a TON of them in matches. If you are consistently trying shots you don’t have comfortably in your arsenal, you will beat yourself almost every time. Don’t be your own worst enemy.
10. Losing focus on any given point
Focus on EVERY point! A tennis match is like a roller coaster, with momentum changes occurring as often as every couple points in a tight match. You owe it to yourself to be committed to every shot in every point. You never know what point could swing the momentum in your favor, or your opponents, and who knows, maybe that momentum won’t switch back. Don’t give your opponents the edge with a lack of focus, ever.
Tennis is a great game. Your mental fortitude is as important as the technique on your strokes or your fitness. Don’t make these very common mistakes. Take these tips to the court and start winning more matches. Let us know how it goes in the comments section!