Tennis Tactics – 5 Ways To Dominate In Singles
1. Match preparation.
By warming up properly, even if it’s a small amount of time, 10-15 minutes, you’ll give yourself a boost before the match. If time permits, you’ll want to hit for a good 20-30 minutes and then have some off-court time to stretch out your body, eat a good meal, visualize how you want to play and then warm-up for the match.
2. Starting off the match with a high level of focus and consistency.
Many players make the mistake of starting out at full speed on their shots, going for maximum power on the serve, hitting hard shots right from the first point, going for winners. Start off the match at 75% power, get your first four first serves in and build a rhythm. This might mean you start off with a serve between your first and second and get that consistency going right from the beginning. If you do this and build that timing, your body will naturally pick up the speed and within 2-3 service games, you’ll have that solid base along with your power. In those first few games, you want to develop a solid base that you can build off during the match. This means playing high percentage tennis, hitting with good margins, constructing your points instead of trying to end them quickly. Testing out your opponent’s game, finding out what they like and don’t like.
3. Find your opponent’s weakness.
We all have weaknesses, it might be one particular stroke that breaks down under pressure or a certain type of ball that we hate dealing with. This could be a high backhand for the single handers out there. This could be dealing with a low ball on the forehand side, if the player uses a more extreme grip. The quicker you find the weakness, the easier it will be for you to win that match. This doesn’t mean that you use the same tactic on each and every point. If your opponent struggles with high backhands and all you do is give them high backhands, they’ll adapt and actually get better at dealing with them.
This means that on the bigger points, you use that tactic. 30 all points, breakpoints, game points, etc. How do you find the weakness? You test out everything from the start of the match, give them low balls on each side, give them high balls on each side, approach to their forehand and backhand, see how they deal with being rushed. Use every type of serve that you have in your arsenal. All this time, you should be taking mental notes, storing that data like a computer. You’ll quickly piece together their game and find their weaknesses.
4. Try to play each point as if it’s the only one.
This means having that point by point mentality. That means letting go of errors, forgetting about the lead you may have lost, not being affected by your opponent’s winners. Living in the moment and focusing only on the task at hand, which is the next point. A good way to do this is to build the next point in your mind before you go out and play it. This could be when you’re collecting balls or when you go to your towel. That’s why the pros all have towels on the court, you can use that time to recover, let the heart rate drop into the ideal zone and also build up the point in your mind. This would be the first and second shot on your serve, or the return and strategy when returning.
5. Fight. Never give up.
Many tennis players seem to throw in the towel as soon as they lose the first set or they feel like it’s not their day.
The great thing about the scoring system in tennis is, you’re never out of a match even in the worst position. A few points can change the momentum of a match drastically. I’ve both won and lost matches from match point positions. It’s never over until it’s actually over. The more you show your opponent you are there to fight and won’t give up, the more likely it is to affect them mentally and before long, that will have an effect on their performance.