Be more specific with your training

Tennis is an open-situation sport because you never know what will happen next. Opponent’s serve or reactions to the drop shot are things that rely on decisions made in milliseconds so responses will vary among different players. Creating successful player is a complex process and it has to be based on close and open situations used during the practice. Coach has to build proper actions (technique) and incorporate them into tennis environment (tactic) to ensure that player has a chance to achieve personal excellence.


Coaches around the world know many interesting drills and exercises for common match play situations so they use them very often. This approach is great because we can practice exactly in the same way that tennis is played. However, there is only one question: what about the unusual situations? What are you going to do if you encounter unexpected situation at 5/5 in the final set? This article will show you the importance of training uncommon skills to guarantee perfect preparation for the next battles.


Planning tennis practice can be a complex process even for high-class coaches in the profession. Individuality of players and specifications of the sport are factors that make tennis easy to watch but pretty hard to train. There are plenty of skills like technique of the strokes, physical abilities or mental strengths that should be possessed to ensure positive results on the court. However, whole process has to be carefully prepared because there is nothing worse than chaos while developing new habits. As experts say, players should be focused on one thing at the time because if they try to split it for more areas, it is not going to work. Knowing also that new motor pattern takes at least 4-6 weeks to get ingrained, repetitions and patience should be priorities for all coaches.


Tennis is an open-situation sport that creates new opportunities every time the ball crosses the net. There are no exactly 2 the same shots in tennis so constant adaptations to the current conditions are fundamentals that have to be learned. Taking this fact into consideration, it is pretty visible that coaches should spend more time with students to practice open situations because it is reality of this sport. Looking at Rafa and Roger battles, we can easily learn that going into opponent’s weakness is a tactical priority on the top level. Even that serve & volley times are past right now, players from top 50 still teach us a lesson that those skills should be practiced and used from time to time to disturb returner’s rhythm. Another example that watching matches is a great learning tool is Wimbledon tournament where players have to show their half-volley’s skills to perform successfully on the fast grass. Coaches are responsible for player’s progress and if they base own plans only on common situations, they can create great player but not the best one. It is true that tennis consists of really difficult situations in 20 % of the total time but player who wins more these really difficult situations during the match is mostly the winner. Look what you should take into consideration when preparing future practice plans:


Response to the drop shot

Tennis season is mostly played on the fast surfaces (concrete, grass, carpet) so players don’t use too many drop shots these days. It can look like smart decision to practice more offensive weapons because of this factor but this approach can be quickly verified while playing against European or South American athletes. Growing up on the clay helps you to develop variety of skills and drop shot is one of them. Knowing how to respond to these shots is a necessity for any competitive player because inability to perform well while running from baseline to the net can cost you a match. Good drills are the ones that make players execute and respond to drop shots to guarantee that they are prepared for these situations when playing under pressure.


Backhand overhead

Another shot that happens from time to time is a backhand overhead. You can say that your quick footwork will help you to get to the regular smash position every time you want but it is not correct. Even the best moving players in the world are forced to hit this unusual shot so we have to get more skills to execute it well. I am not saying that learning how to execute backhand overhead should take the most time of your practices but incorporating drills based on this shot once a while can be a good approach to become a more successful player.


Hitting well behind the sideline

Many times players perform exercises, which are based on lateral movement, but rarely they practice extremities where players are forced to run well behind the sideline. On the other hand, when you watch tennis matches on TV, you can clearly observe that ability to unleash your forehand down the line on the run is a reason for many successful break points. Setting up drills that force players to leave court boundaries is a great opportunity to teach them different responses (angles, flat risky shots) that will improve player’s variety of shots. Rafa Nadal makes many incredible shots while hitting well outside of the court but this is the result of hours spent on this particular uncommon situation.


Volley lob

This skill’s effectiveness is especially visible in doubles matches but it can be also helpful while playing singles. Great pattern to teach this ability is drop shot + lob. Learning how to bring someone to the net, take proper position inside the baseline and perform well-placed lob over opponent’s head are skills that need good touch but it all can be achieved with practice. Go on the court, try this approach and see how your opponent is vulnerable and tired after running from the baseline to the net and back.


This article shows new ideas on how to make your practice more effective and interesting. If you love to compete, use these skills to make them your strengths against all kind of opponents. Of course, don’t forget about other uncommon situations too because the ones mentioned above are not the only ones that happen during the match. Tennis is an open situation sport so methods to practice are countless. Be creative, be smart and play well!