DIfferent forms of successful defense

Modern tennis is definitely based on offensive solutions. Players like Nadal, Federer, Osaka or Williams look for any opportunity to put pressure on the opponent and hit winning shots. Big serves, offensive returns and powerful groundstrokes are hallmarks of today’s competition but players have to remember that when on player is in offensive mode the other one has to defend.


There is no doubt that training winning shots is more interesting than running and trying to just keep the ball in play. Hitting inside-out forehands, using drop shot or adding power to drive volleys are options that have to be trained while thinking about being more aggressive but players can’t forget that they will have to compete against different opponents. It means that during every match player will have to deal with offensive, neutral and defensive situations so not having appropriate skills in one of these areas will create big problems during the tournament.


When thinking about defense many players immediately see moon balls and pushed balls. That is maybe true at beginner level but the more advanced player is the more options he has to vary defensive responses. Players who understand defense well and practice specific skills are not feeling a lot of pressure while running deep behind the baseline and stretching for another difficult ball. It all comes down to preparation. When you know what to do and why you should do it you are confident that you can win the point even when it looks like opponent has all the advantage.


Looking at the game of Rafa Nadal or Novak Djokovic we can see completely different perspective of defensive play. These guys can turn around any situation with one shot and most of the time it is not the shot that includes a lot of risk of making mistake. Both of them show how good physical preparation combined with tactical awareness and also technical capability is an effective mixture of skills that allow them to win points against opponents who hit the ball really hard. Power is important but understanding own situation and tactical option within is definitely more important while looking at the final result of the match.


To be able to win more points while being in defense players have to consider different responses. Here are few of them:


Heavy and deep topspin

For good defensive players high ball means something different than for beginners. When top defenders want to hit higher ball they have a reason behind it. Hitting higher means that the ball will fly longer so it immediately gives them more time to recover to the proper spot on the court. Hitting deep makes it more difficult for the opponent to put pressure on them again so they expect to get easier ball or that opponent will make a mistake. Using heavy topspin guarantees some problems for rival to hit the ball hard because the ball will bounce higher after the contact with surface and technical adaptation is needed to be able to maintain offensive mode.


Slice with different depths

Modern tennis is based on powerful forehands and backhands but slice will never be extinct. Defensive situations show great opportunity for slice to use it effectively against different kinds of opponent. Good defenders use slice from both sides to change the spin from topspin to backspin as also to break the rhythm of the offensive rally. Additionally this ball should be placed with different depths because deep and short slice shots require totally different technical approach from the opponent as also they create different tactical opportunities for the rival too. By using slice in defense player can force rival to make more mistakes which is the goal for every athlete who chases the ball and is under the pressure.


Risk power with safe target

From time to time especially on fast surfaces we can observe that top players hit powerful shots deep through the center while being in defensive situation. It is an effective solution because many players don’t expect this kind of answer from the other side of the net and they are not ready to quickly adjust both own position and tactical response. Players don’t train going away from the fast incoming ball so they won’t be able to automatically prepare effective shot to counter these obstacles. Using this option from time to time is a great choice to surprise the rival and win the point or at least stay in the rally and have another opportunity to take advantage.


The whole tennis world talks about offensive approach to modern tennis but we can’t forget that 2 players rarely can be both in offensive mode. When one player is attacking the other one has to defend. That is why players should never forget about learning and improving defensive skills because the most important points during the match can happen when they will be far behind the baseline and their responses will decide about who will win this battle.