Dealing with fast balls on the baseline

Nowadays more and more tennis players want to possess weapons that will help them to dominate on the court. Pro players already show how important it is to hit forcing shots and to achieve it they use a lot of power while playing from the baseline. Even at lower levels of performance players tend to hit balls with more power than ever before so all players have to learn how to respond to fast balls to be able to compete effectively.


Watching Roger Federer or Serena Williams on TV is completely different experience than watching the same athletes while being in the stands. The ball seems to go fast on TV but the reality is that the ball is much faster than we can see. Modern tennis players use perfect technique, fluent kinetic chain and dynamic racket’s possibilities to hit the ball with huge speed. Starting from serve and going through the use of forehand players look for quick opportunity to put pressure on the rival so fast shots shouldn’t surprise anyone.


There is no doubt that tennis 20 years ago was a completely different sport than tennis is today. Forehands flying over 100km/h are balls that players have to try to reach and hit them back so proper understanding of needed changes as also many repetitions during the practice sessions are steps that will guarantee good preparation. The more advanced level player represents the more times he will have to play against players who regularly deliver fast balls. However fast ball doesn’t have to force player to make a mistake or to stay in defensive mode. When proper adaptation is implemented player can at least maintain neutral position in the rally and see if opponent has enough skills to repeat few fast shots with expected quality.


One of the most important skills in tennis is an ability to adapt. Every year the game gets faster as also players look for more offensive opportunities than ever before. Adding to this list the fact that in tennis we can never be sure about the choice of the opponent next shot we have to always react and adapt to the constantly changing environment. Many juniors and recreational players struggle with quick and effective adaptation and that is why it happens that they lose many games in a row. Adaptation is a key and in fast-pace sport where decisions have to be made quickly players who do it automatically are the ones who compete for the trophy.


If your next opponent loves to hit the ball with a lot of pace make sure you are not scared. Below you can find advices on how to effectively adapt and deal with fast balls:


  • Maintain low position

Many players start stroke preparation thinking about their racket. The same approach happens when they try to correct mistake. They focus solely on the racket and forget that in tennis firstly you have to move and set up good position. Dealing with fast balls requires stable point of contact so players have to bend knees and maintain low position. There is no need to go up while hitting because it will change the point of contact and put stroke’s quality at risk. Players have to focus solely on control and with low position control is guaranteed.


  • Early preparation

Looking at the pro players they always prepare own shots really early. Many times their movement to the ball is initiated by turning shoulders to start racket preparation. This simple and quick move gives great chances that player won’t hit the ball late. As we know point of contact while responding to fast ball is of utmost importance – if the ball is not hit in front of the body it will probably be an error. That is why it is crucial to learn how to early prepare to guarantee consistent point of contact and maximum control over the shot.


  • Shorter backswing

Another technical adaptation that will improve quality of responding to fast ball has to impact backswing. Power of the opponent’s shot should be countered by good control and control can be improved by shortening the backswing. If player takes regular backswing against this kind of balls he will have problems with being consistent with own shots. Shortening the backswing allows to achieve consistent point of contact so it is another aspect that positively impacts control over powerful shots.


  • Tactical solution

In the previous advices we could see that technical adaptations are needed to effectively play against hard-hitters but tactical changes have to be incorporated too to maintain good performance. Hitting in safe direction (cross-court, center) is a much smarter option than trying to hit risky down the line shots so players have to pay attention to own directional choices while working on dealing with fast balls. Many times players lose points not because they make technical mistakes but because they are not aware of tactical solutions needed in this particular situation.


Let’s be clear. Tennis is fast and it will be even faster in the future. This specificity makes players think about need to possess proper skills that will allow them to compete effectively today and tomorrow. With conscious technical and tactical goals during the practice sessions players are able to develop habits that will allow them to play automatically under pressure and consistently respond to the shots that others don’t even try to reach.