Recently I wrote an article on active.com that went over 5 steps to improving your defensive tennis game. It’s often an overlooked part of a tennis player’s game, however defensive skills can be just a lethal as a strong, attacking game.
However with a defensive game the results are seen more so in your opponent’s mind and psychological approach to the match when they have a strong defensive opponent. An opponent will often begin to change the way they play, in a lot of cases over-playing their shots and trying to do too much because of a strong-defensive game.
The 5 steps can be seen in the article here, however I’ll list them below, in far less detail.
1. Know When to Play Defensively
A player should understand the three phases of a point – neutral, attacking and defensive. Too often a player will play the wrong shot at the wrong time. When your opponent has played too good of a shot and put you under pressure, put your ego to the side and play a smart defensive shot.
2. Play to the ‘Safe Spots’
A defensive shot is best played to the safe spots on court. Generally this is down the middle of the court and deep. However depending on your position, your opponent’s position and the shot at hand, this could change to other locations, such as deep crosscourt.
Here’s a great drill on safespots from TDHQ (diagram below) – http://tennisdrillshq.com/drills/private-lessons-1-player/safe-spots-recovery/
3. Hit a shot towards your opponent’s weakness
If you’re an advanced player, than a shot towards your opponent’s weakness is still possible in a defensive situation. Give yourself more height and spin over the net, and aim deep, generally to their backhand (assuming this is the weaker shot).
4. Learn to move better on court through practice
Two great ways to improve movement and overall fitness is interval training and skipping. There are however a number of other great movement drills that will increase your overall game.
Here’s a drill that not only works on movement but also works on a pattern of play that turns defensive into attack.
5. Learn to read your opponent
By reading your opponent you’ll get to balls quicker and put yourself under less pressure when making the shot. You’ll also frustrate them at the same time and force them to play a better shot which will generally leads to more errors. This is all about anticipation.
For further detail on these 5 steps, check out the link above to the article on active.com – you can also read the other articles I have written there.
Finally here’s another great defensive drill that we have on the site.
There’s plenty of other ideas on becoming a better defensive tennis player. I’d love to hear them! Please write them in the comments section below 🙂