Tennis Strategy and Tactics

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


Hanck's 7 Laws of Tennis

1. Errors usually outnumber winners. To improve you must reduce your errors.

2. Power and control are opposites. Hitting the ball harder reduces control and increases errors; hitting the ball less hard increases control and reduces errors.

3. Ball placement is more important than power. The difference between hitting the ball to an opponent and hitting it a foot beyond the opponent's reach is a matter of inches--inches that separate winning and losing.

4. Every match requires a player to take account of what is working and what is not, and then to make adjustments. Don't beat yourself by making the same mistakes again and again. Use what is working.

5. Determination and mental toughness can often overcome physical or technical weaknesses. A weaker player can defeat a stronger player by using more effective tactics, better anticipation, and more sustained concentration.

6. Good shot selection is the key to match success. Choose the right shot for the right situation. Trying to hit winners from a defensive position (when off balance, deep behind the baseline, or out of position) is the main source of unnecessary errors.

7. Successful players learn how to play well under pressure. You must put yourself under pressure and work on your concentration when you practice.

Developing good practice habits

  • Practice intensely, not casually. Practice the shot patterns, behavior patterns, and thought patterns which are useful in a game situation. Run after every ball, never let the ball bounce twice, keep your mind on the court, and shut out all distractions.
  • Hit every shot with a purpose in mind: aim the ball, don't just hit the ball somewhere
  • Always visualize your shots. Imagine the perfect placement for your shots, both in practice and in matches. See in your mind's eye exactly how the shot will look and feel.
  • Set reachable, concrete goals for your own improvement. Play to improve, not just to win. Being the number one player on your team may not be a realistic goal, but developing a more consistent and powerful forehand is a reachable goal.
  • To groove your shots, practice your shots in super-slow motion without a ball. Balance, smoothness, and muscle memory can all be improved by practicing your shots off the court in front of a mirror.
  • Remember that power and control are opposites. Hitting the ball harder reduces control and increases errors; hitting the ball less hard increases control and reduces errors.


Over hitting

How Do You Know When You're Over hitting? It's easy to over hit when you are tense or when the match gets very close.

There are three surefire signs of over hitting: 1) You begin missing shots you normally make, 2) You can't understand why you're missing, and 3) You lose your "feel" for the ball. The three usually occur together.

There are two things you can do to regain your feel for the ball: a) consciously relax the muscles of your hand and forearm by flexing and relaxing the muscles and taking a few deep breaths, and b) consciously begin hitting the ball with less pace.

Hitting with less pace is the most important thing you can do because it increases your ball control. Better ball control gives your muscles better feedback and very quickly improves your timing and your feel for the ball.












The primary strategy in singles is to try to force your opponent to make more errors than you do.

1. Do not beat yourself by making unnecessary errors or taking unnecessary risks. Play to stay in the point until you get an opportunity to set up a point-winning situation. Inexperienced players often try to hit offensive (point-winning) shots from positions on the court where they should be hit defensive (staying-in-the-point) shots.

2. Know your game and try to impose it on your opponent. Try to do what you do best until your opponent forces you to do otherwise.

3. During a match be flexible and resilient. Find out what is working for you and what is not. Don't stubbornly keep trying a shot that is obviously "off". Everyone has bad patches during a match, so be persistent and don't get discouraged when things go wrong.

4. Find your opponent's weaknesses and then exploit them. Watch the player before the match or during the warm-up for clues to their weak or strong points. Here are some tactics you can try against certain types of players or in certain situations:
--if your opponent has much stronger ground strokes on one side than on the other: play the opponent's weaker side on big points.
--if your opponent is clumsy, slow, or out of condition: run your opponent from side-to-side or from shallow-to-deep and deep-to-shallow.
If your opponent is tall: try to keep the ball low to make your opponent bend.
If your opponent is uncomfortable at the net: hit short, then lob or make them volley.
--against an opponent who is slow afoot: hit sharp angles to pull your opponent out of court.
Against an opponent who likes a lot of pace on the ball: hit softly, and change pace and spin.
--for an opponent who is very fast around the court: hit behind this opponent to force changes of direction.
If it is very windy remember: "To win with the wind, come in"--get up to the net when the wind is at your back and make your opponent pass you. "Wind in your face, change pace"--use backspin to float the ball and let the wind move it around.
Against all opponents: disguise your shots and vary your placements: deception will win as many points as sheer power.


The primary strategy in doubles is to maneuver your opponents until you can create an opening, and then exploit the opening to win the point.

1. The most basic doubles tactic is to get your opponents to hit up so that you or your partner can hit down. Try to keep the ball low at your opponents' feet or stretch them wide to force floating or weak shots which you can put away.
2. Maneuver the opponents until they are forced out of position or an opening is created. There are three simple ways to do this: (1) hit up the middle and then volley the return wide, (2) hit wide and then volley the return up the middle, and (3) hit your shots between both opponents to force them to decide who will hit the ball.
3. Pick on the weaker player: whenever you have a choice, hit the ball at the player who is most likely to make an error.
4. When serving: get your first serve in and try to take control of the net. Hitting a first serve puts your team in an offensive position; hitting a second serve puts your team in a defensive position.
5. When receiving: get the ball in play and try to take control of the point. Practice your return--it is the second most important shot in doubles!
6. Never advise or criticize your partner during a match. Discuss what is working and what is not, but don't try to coach or improve your partner's strokes because this will only lead to arguments and bad feelings.
7. Move together on court and communicate with your partner: yell "mine", "yours", or "out" to make it clear who is going to hit which shot.