Tennis Strokes

To become a good tennis player you must learn good techniques and sound tennis tactics. Lessons from a good coach are essential. Below are some links to other sites on the internet and a few of my own tennis tips.


What are your stroking speed limits?

Your speed limit is the speed at which you can consistently get the ball in court and near your target. When you try to hit above your speed limit you over hit and make too many errors; when you hit too far below your speed limit you tend to push the ball and play too safely.

Your speed limit varies from shot to shot--you might be able to hit your forehand very hard and still control it but not your backhand, for example.


Rallying speed and Put Away speed

Rallying speed is the speed at which you can hit the ball consistently with good control.

When the opportunity to hurt your opponent arises, you need to hit the ball hard enough to end the point immediately, and this usually means hitting it harder than your usual rallying speed. This is put away speed.


 Service Returns

Service returns and overheads are important shots that are not practiced nearly enough by the average player.

  • SERVICE RETURNS:  Ready position:  weight balanced, legs shoulder width or wider, knees flexed.  Use the bounce/hop step just as the server is about to hit the serve.  Move your weight forward and in the direction of the ball.  Try to reach forward for the return with an abbreviated back swing.
  • Contact the ball in front of your body and follow through towards your target.


  • The overhead is similar to the serve but has important differences because you must move into position to hit. Overhead preparation is also simpler.
  • As soon as you see a lob, turn sideways and begin moving backwards like a football cornerback--use crossover, "carrioca style" footwork. Get your non-racket hand up pointing at the ball. Keep the ball lined up above your left shoulder.
  • Visualize getting under the ball. Get your racket back early in an abbreviated back swing.
  • Hit through the ball with full follow through like a serve.




















Volleying well requires good balance, shifting your body weight forward, and using controlled shoulder/arm/hand movement to punch the racket through the ball.

  • Continental volley grip:  the only grip to use on the volley is the continental grip.  Hold the racket vertical and grab the handle from the front.  This should put the index pad of your hand on the right hand top bevel and the palm of your hand on the tip bevel.
  • Balance:  spread your feet shoulder width or wider, flex your knees, do not lock them, and keep your weight on the balls of your feet.
  • Anticipation and moving to the ball:  To quickly move to the ball you have to use a split step or bounce/hop step.  Hop and bounce on the balls of your feet just as your opponent is about to hit the ball.  Push off in the direction of the ball as soon as you see where it’s headed.

  • Volley Footwork:  the footwork for the volley requires two steps--planting the outside foot and stepping forward towards the ball with the inside foot.  On the forehand, plant the right foot and step forward with the left; on the backhand, plant the left foot and step forward with the right.
  • Racket preparation and hand movement on the volley:  Wait for the ball with the racket in front of your body and the racket head at about chest height.  Turn your shoulders away from the ball and step in the direction of the ball with your outside foot.  Punch forward and slightly downward to meet the ball in front of your body.  The wrist remains firm and the motion extends the forearm through and slightly under the ball to give it slight backspin for control.  Keep the follow through short and controlled.



  • Turn sideways early and find your grip--before the ball crosses the net.
  • For topspin make sure your racket head moves from below the height of the ball to above the height of the ball at contact.
  • For slice make sure your racket face is slightly open and that it moves from high to low--from above fall height to below the height of ball at contact.
  • Elbow starts close to your hip at lowest point of forward swing and moves forward and out to the ball.
  • Elbow followthrough finishes in front of the plane of the body, parallel to the court, and pointing at your target.

Two-Handed Backhand

  • Prepare early by changing grip and getting sideways before ball crosses the net.
  • Drop racket head below ball and swing up to ball contact point for topspin.
  • Swing racket head down to and through the ball for slice, making sure the racket face is slightly open.
  • Hands start near the hips at lowest point of forward swing and swing out to meet the ball.
  • Follow through high and across the body. Left elbow finishes high, parallel to the court just like on the forehand.