Biomechanical explanation of why it is safer to hit crosscourt?

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by Clay lover, Oct 25, 2011.

  1. Clay lover

    Clay lover Hall of Fame

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    Please excuse me if I sound ignorant but I don't know if it has been discussed before here. In addition to "having more court to work with", isn't it easier to line up your shoulders so they are in line with the crosscourt route compared to DTL? If you want to hit DTL, you have to rotate/adjust your feet all the way so your shoulder faces the DTL route.

    This is especially significant if you are in a match and the ball is coming at you quick. Hitting crosscourt seems to be safer because it's requires a smaller rotation/ less adjustment of your feet, thus you have more time to prepare for the shot compared to when you hit DTL.

    Am I right?
     
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  2. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    No! Hitting cross court is more difficult for most players because you have to take the ball earlier to hit cross court giving you less time to set up and hit the ball. You have to rotate your upper body sooner and further to hit cross court.

    Having said that, if you are near or behind the baseline, it is essential that you do hit cross court. In addition to being a higher percentage shot in terms of hitting over the low part of the net and having a longer court to work with, it is also the tactically correct shot in terms of court positioning. So, unless your opponent has slipped and fallen in the cross court corner, or has a glaring weakness on his other side, hit it cross court.
     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2011
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  3. travlerajm

    travlerajm Hall of Fame

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    Besides having slightly lower net and slightly longer court for corss-court, I think there is some extra error risk when you try to change direction of the ball (that is, hit down the line off an incoming cross-court shot). The higher the swingweight of your racquet, the easier it is to change direction accurately.
     
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  4. Alejandro Lanza

    Alejandro Lanza Rookie

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    Recently i heard Nadal say that Djokovic was doing two things very well, and that they were two hardest things to do in tennis. One of them was change direction. I can't recall what the other one was, maybe serve return.
     
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  5. Nellie

    Nellie Hall of Fame

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    I don't think that there is a biomechanical reason that crosscourt is easier than down-the-line.

    When you hit cross court, you are hitting over the low point of the net, so you have more margin for error vertically, in addition to the horizontal margin for error (i.e., longer court distance), identified in by the OP.

    Regarding changing direction, it is hard to do because people struggle to estimate the rebound angle (the path off the face the racquet is like a V.)
     
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  6. mxmx

    mxmx Semi-Pro

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    The angle you receive the ball, determines the safest angle you can hit it back. Receiving a paced serve from the duece side, will persentage wise, be returned safest in the same direction, ie, crosscourt. Receiving on the ad side, will be persentage wise be best to return cross court. Thus one can recover into the best possible positions your opponents can hit their strokes also. Always good to face the oncoming ball with your feet and split stepping.

    So, a server knowing he has a good serve, can rush the net knowing that the returner will most likely hit cross court (because of persentages)...and in so doing, force the returner to go for the riskier shot down the line. A good returner, can risk down the line, or low at the feet of the net rusher, which is in my opinion, easier to do than to go down the line. A slow, short serve, opens up angles and one can return down the line or cross court.

    The shorter the ball, the more angles are created. Having to hit the persentage shot cross court, becomes less and less needed.


    In Doubles:
    the best shot to go for and to cover for, is down the middle. Hitting any shot in the middle back of the court, limits the angles of the person receiving that ball.
     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2011
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  7. defrule

    defrule Professional

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    I have a question, suppose you are dragged out wide on you backhand wing and your opponent hasn't approached the net. Where is the best place to reply to?

    I try to slice deep crosscourt back but because I'm a lefty this goes right into the person forehand and seems to give him the option to hit behind me as I recover.

    Place it down the line is risky with the higher net and he can angle it away easily to the open court.

    I'm starting to think replying deep to the centre T is the most neutralising response. Still not sure on things but it seems to limit their angles more.
     
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  8. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    His signature shot is the DTL BH
     
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  9. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    If you are pulled wide and are still behind the baseline, your target should be about 5 feet from the cross court corner. You don't have to recover back to the middle of the court. You only have to recover to the point where you have bisected your opponent's angles. That way, your opponent can't hit away from you. But, if you hit to the middle, you open yourself up for an inside out forehand or a semi cross court backhand. Either way, the ball is traveling away from you.

    But, if you are pulled wide and short, you are in a bit of trouble. You probably have to end the point in one shot. If the ball is low (below the level of the net cord), then you can either try a sharp angle topspin winner, or a drop shot dtl that makes your opponent run from back corner to front corner. Smother the net to cut off anything he might hit back. If the ball is well above the net, a drop shot is out, but, you can still go for a sharp angled topspin winner, or a winner dtl.
     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2011
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  10. fuzz nation

    fuzz nation Legend

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    I'd say that you're probably onto something there. When your opponent is stuck in his/her end and right in the middle of the court, there's really no radical angle to hit at from there. The placement you're describing can indeed be neutralizing, especially when you don't have any initiative and need to recover back toward the center yourself.

    Another great option when an opponent hits into an angle that pulls you out wide is to hit back into that same angle or even more - return the favor with interest. Jennifer Capriati really got my attention with this tactic during her comeback. She could instantly flip the switch from defense to offense in one shot using this idea.

    As long as she could get to a wide ball and do something with it, Capriati loved to hit it back at an even sharper angle. Many times she'd catch an opponent recovering toward the middle and her ball would go behind them. Even if they could reel it in, there's not much you can do from that sort of situation. While the angle relative to the court itself is pretty large, remember that when you try to counter that wide-out with a wide ball of your own, you're not changing the direction of the ball too much. The bigger issue is getting it over the net and down inside the sideline.
     
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  11. Off The Wall

    Off The Wall Semi-Pro

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    You can hit CC or DTL using any stance, closed thru open. You close your shoulders either way. (If you only hit DTL while aiming your feet that way, opponents would just go wait to return your shot from there.)

    Don't worry about which is biomechanically easier. That's a red herring. CC will always be easier because as you said, more court; and as someone else said, lower net.
     
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  12. vitas77remembered

    vitas77remembered New User

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    CC is better because you are hitting a straight ball back straight (same direction it came from) whereas DTL is hitting a straight ball crooked, which takes more precision.
     
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  13. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    That is the conventional advice. Not sure how valid it is any more. I see pros go to the open court time after time. If the opponent hits CC from the deuce court, they will often go DTL to the ad court.

    With topspin on the ball, case can be made both ways. It can be more difficult to control the ball DTL as it is spinning away, but on the other hand, it can be more difficult to reverse the spin and send it CC with sufficient power. Sometimes it is easier to "go with the spin" and send it DTL with a little power to control the spin, than to send it CC, and sometimes it is easier to reverse the spin and send it CC, than risk the ball flying away from the sidelines DTL.

    Frankly, I think the pros go the open court as their main strategy. At the club level, running people around side to side is an easy way to extract UEs. When Pete was asked what his strategy was, he simply said: Hit where the other guy isn't.
     
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  14. Off The Wall

    Off The Wall Semi-Pro

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    I think we can throw out the pros. They can hit almost anywhere and keep it in.

    For club players, conventional is still good for a safe play. Spin or no. Of course, if you're adept at DTL, go for it.
     
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  15. Xizel

    Xizel Professional

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    It's only safer in terms of error rates. It's not safer that you're hitting to the guy's forehand.
     
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  16. Off The Wall

    Off The Wall Semi-Pro

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    Excellent point to keep in mind.
     
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  17. mxmx

    mxmx Semi-Pro

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    This is why they are pro, and we are not. They could get this right more often than we could. I also see pro's hitting the persentage shot large persentages of the point....until the opponent hits a weaker shot...then they would have room to attack the open court more.

    I find Pete's comment rather surprising. Sometimes you want to hit the ball hard toward the feet of your opponent. I know a player who is better on the move, than when hitting straight toward him, almost jamming him. Yes, sometimes you need to take initiative and go for the open court or DTL...but there is certainly good reason to hit the persentages.
     
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  18. mxmx

    mxmx Semi-Pro

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    To me, its more important hitting the right shot, as to going to their backhand or forehand per say. My forehand is my biggest weapon, but against this coach i know, he actually hits to my forhand more than to my backand, all for the sake of angles....opening up my backhand so to speak.

    In defensive scenarios, i would rather hit a good shot cross court, even to my opponents forehand, than a riskier or weaker shot DTL on his backand. Sometimes its all about staying in the point and to neutralise your opponent until you have your chance to change the momentum to take control of the point.
     
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  19. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Fantastic mathematical analysis. The supposedly higher probability of safety must be balanced against the opponent not required to move (if he is also standing CC) and getting the ball on his forehand.
     
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  20. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    A "safer" DTL is also an option - with more net clearance.
     
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  21. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    I don't know what you mean by a "safer DTL" option. Hitting dtl from at, or behind, the baseline is a tactical error under most circumstances. In addition to being a tactical error, if you try to redirect a hard struck shot dtl, you have to compensate for the tendency of the ball to recochet off of your racquet, a difficult task even for pros. Nadal can pull it off on his forehand when he is on the run and way behind the baseline where the speed of the ball has decreased significantly. But, I've seen Nadal blow many backhands wide in to the doubles ally trying to redirect them dtl.
     
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  22. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    I meant a slower and higher DTL ball whose goal is not to be a winner but to make the forehand CC guy run to his backhand side.
     
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  23. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    If you are hitting that shot from at or near the baseline, that is a tactical error.
     
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  24. arche3

    arche3 Banned

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    Disagree. If you can make the shot its not an error. If I get a mid pace chest high ball cross court that bounces 2 feet inside the baseline I can hit it dtl 90% of the time without error with a lot of pace and spin deep. Which sets up hopefully a weaker shorter reply. To the middle of the court. That's the shot in looking for. I can then hit it off the court to his fh short angle . Or inside out back to his bh corner. I'm on attack then.

    It's only a tactical error if you can't make the percentage.
     
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  25. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    You're missing the point. There's a difference between a tactical error and an unforced error. Hitting dtl from near or behind the baseline is a tactical error whether you make the shot or not because, unless you hit a winner dtl, (which is a low percentage shot on top of a tactical error), you leave yourself out of position and exposed to a winner by your opponent cross court.

    If you want to play winning tennis, then you hit cross court from at or behind the baseline and wait for your opponent to hit a weak shot, an UE or a tactical error of trying to go dtl, which you should respond to by going cross court to the other side.

    Tennis is a percentage game. You give yourself the best chance to win by making high percentage plays. I love hitting cross court against an opponent who like to go dtl. First, it tells me he doesn't know how to play high percentage tennis. Second, he will run a lot further to catch up to my cross court balls than I will to run down his dtl balls.
     
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2011
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  26. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    That is exactly what I try to do. High deep ball DTL making the guy run to his BH and deal with the high ball and make a weak return or UE
     
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  27. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    Ahh, I see! Sorry, I was referring to a slightly higher level of tennis. I love to knife high backhands cross court.
     
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  28. arche3

    arche3 Banned

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    You do realize when better players change direction its hit with a lot of pace and spin right? Good luck with your knife like slice lol. Maybe when your hacking away your opponents hit weak puff balls dtl. It's not a tactical error to hit dtl if it's a forcing shot in high level tennis. Do you even play anyone who can hit the ball?
    Percentage tennis is dependent on the individual. Just because you can't hit dtl and change direction on mid paced balls doesn't mean I can't hit a winner or at the very least a forcing shot from it.

     
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  29. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Wouldn't that be low level play? As in the ball is lower over the net.
     
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  30. olliess

    olliess Semi-Pro

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    You can consistently hit winners or forcing balls, DTL, off of deep, mid paced balls?

    Does this mean your opponents have to hit winners or forcing balls to you on practically every shot, or else they lose the point?
     
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  31. arche3

    arche3 Banned

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    Obviously not everyone ball. But mid paced balls 2 feet into the court to my fh I am taking a crack at it Instead of going back cross court sometimes. It's called variety. If I know my opponent only hits cross court on a cross court shot I know I can cheat more on the crossxourt side and not run as much.
    Variety and consistent play is how you win matches. Not some rules you read in a book.
    I am good enough where if your hitting mid paced deep balls to me I will not miss very often. It just doesn't phase me. Add some pace and spin. Mix up your direction of shot and force me to an uncomfortable shot and that's how you win.

    After a certain point players don't miss a lot unless forced.
    Of course we all miss and have ue at times. It's tennis after all. If your always playing the percentage game and just doing that higher level guys will see it. And actually it's easy to play guys like that for me. I know where your always going to hit the ball.


     
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  32. Netzroller

    Netzroller Semi-Pro

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    I think there are five important general rules that determine how safe a shot is

    1) crosscourt is safer than longline because the net is lower and the court longer (obvious)
    2) inside groundstrokes are easier than outside groundstrokes (this is the biomechanical point you are talking about I think, however this is independend of it being crosscourt/longline)
    3) It is easier to hit the ball back to where it came from than to change direction (I think this is because this way the reflected power and the power generated by oneself point in the same direction)
    4) medium paced shots are safer than hard shots (obvious)
    5) tospin shots are safer than flat shots (due to the trajectory)

    Obviously the safest shot is not necessarily the best option. Furthermore each player might have certain preferences.

    A while ago FYB made a few good videos where they talked about strategy, point construction and court positioning, see if you can find it.
     
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  33. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    Hahaha! I've played some pretty good players in my time.

    Yes it is, if - as I explained - you are trying to redirect a cross court ball from at or behind the baseline. If you are taking a short or weak ball from well inside the baseline, the rules of high percentage tennis are different than when you take the ball from deep in your court.

    See above.

    Not it's not. Apparently, you don't know what high percentage tennis is. Once you reach a certain level, high percentage tennis is pretty much universal.
     
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2011
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  34. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    OK! I'll run with your little non sequitur!

    In the example I'm referring to, if you hit a high deep ball down the line to my backhand from your baseline, I'm going to step in and hit it a shoulder height hard slice cross court. My target will be 5 feet from the corner. In order to get it that deep, even with underspin, I'll have to clear the net by about 2 1/2-3 feet because corner to corner is a long distance.
     
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  35. arche3

    arche3 Banned

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    So it's safe to say if I ever played a guy like you I can camp out cross court as long as I hit it deep to yu cross court.
    And for the record I never said anything about changing direction on a ball from deep behind the baseline. I. Said. It's easy. For me to change direction on mid pace chest high balls that land 2 feet inside the court. Stop reading about tennis percentage play in books and actually play some decent players and you will know what I mean.
    I understand perfectly what percentage play is. I have had pretty extensive coaching as a kid. All the way through college. And all my coaches preached percentage play but with the caveat that you have to have variety and make shots. Take some risk and not be predictable.
    [

    [/B][/B][/B]
     
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  36. dozu

    dozu Banned

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    bro you are wasting your breath... this guy is a 3.0 old hack who thinks he has better slice than Fed.

    btw, Hunter, I know it's true.
     
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  37. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Lot of the pro cross court shots are not necessarily safer shots - they try to angle them sharply wide off the court
     
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  38. Power Player

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    I have been trying to work the point more, and many times that means hitting back a deep crosscourt replay if pulled wide.

    It works a lot because trying to go DTL when on the run and being pulled wide is very hard. I have pulled it off many many times, but it is lower %, and is easy to miss.

    If you are getting CC shots, just hitting them back with the same angle will lower your mistakes. What happens with each stroke is that angles are created, and when you see an open lane with a bigger window, then you can change direction.
     
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  39. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    You sound like someone who has actually played a tennis match or three. It never ceases to amaze me how many decent players who can hit the ball don't understand basic, high percentage, singles tennis strategy.
     
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  40. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    Deleted for redundancy!
     
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2011
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  41. rkelley

    rkelley Hall of Fame

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    Throw me into the "it depends" camp.

    Generally I agree with Limp about the safety and tactical soundness of going CC. It's bread and butter tennis. But there are circumstances where going DTL from behind the baseline and not going for a winner is good strategy.

    First off if you're opponent is camping over in the CC corner your job gets harder. If he doesn't feel he has to cover the DTL shot then he's going to stand wider to the CC side. You have robbed yourself of making him move to get to your shot. Also, on bh to bh crosscourt, if your opponent is camping over on the CC side your CC shot has to be more extreme or you've just given your opponent an inside out forehand to hit. So, once in a while, you have to go DTL to make him cover the possibility and to make your CC shot more effective.

    I'll go DTL often on my fh to get the ball over to my opponent's bh. Also if you're playing a lefty then the DTL bh goes to their bh. Regardless of the level of tennis you're playing at, hitting to your opponent's bh is almost always a good thing, even if they have a good bh.

    There can also be some specialty cases. For instance if your playing a someone with a very Western fh and you have a decent bh slice, it can be interesting to feed him some sliced balls DTL-ish (your bh to their fh) to see if he can deal with them. Weak bh - then everything is going over there from my side.

    So, IMO, Limp's general point is solid, but I disagree with making so absolute.
     
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  42. Rui

    Rui Semi-Pro

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    I think we understand. What we don't understand is hitting every forehand CC. That would include every forehand from the center hash mark to the forehand alley and beyond. All CC, all the time?

    I assume you assess the percentages of other shots ... say passing shots. Always to one side, right? All serves directed to the weaker wing? All volleys down the middle?
     
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  43. dozu

    dozu Banned

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    so you are a 4.5 player, just minding your own biz.... and a 3.0 hack comes up to you and start giving opinions about FH techniques, would you even keep the conversation going?

    right, that is what's going on here in TT.
     
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  44. arche3

    arche3 Banned

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    I think LIMP is so afraid to miss a shot if he goes DTL changing direction that he only plays "percentage" tennis. As rkelley stated its not a bad thing to drill a shot to your opponents BH dtl to keep the guy honest. Oh wait? that is percentage tennis too right? As MOST players BH's are weaker than their FH's. But of course LIMP has a better slice than Federer apparently.... So it does not apply to him.

    If I was playing LIMP I would not even bother recovering towards the middle of the court in a CC FH rally. Because he is unwilling to hit DTL unless he gets his short ball. Guess what? If I am going CC on my FH (my best shot) I am not hitting it short. More likely I am hitting more and more angle until your off the court and then I WILL hit it DTL for a clean winner. If my opp is pulled wide off the court on a CC FH rally and even if he hits it back deep I am going DTL to make him run and hit his BH. To see if he can do it. If he gets it back I am in control anyways.
     
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  45. arche3

    arche3 Banned

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    waiting for LIMP to reply... :)
     
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  46. dozu

    dozu Banned

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    and I am waiting to see another display of back-peddling.
     
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  47. rkelley

    rkelley Hall of Fame

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    I'll hit that shot quite a bit actually. If he can't show me that he can hurt me with the CC bh reply, I'm going to keep pounding the guy's backhand and see if I can break it down.

    Also going to his fh from your backhand DTL is important shot, though usually this would fall into the "keeping him honest" territory. My 15 year old son has spanked me a couple of times because I kept feeding him CC bhs. He started just standing in the alley and waiting for a bh that didn't get pulled as CC as it should have, and then he'd spank me with a fh winner DTL. My bh wasn't even weak, but he was just sitting there waiting for it. You've got to keep your opponent guessing a bit. If they never have to cover the DTL option then you substantially shrink the court that your opponent has to cover.

    One other thing to remember with DTL shots is that while the shorter distance makes the shot riskier and you open up the court on the CC side, the shorter distance also means that you also don't need as much pace to make your opponent have to scamble to the ball. It cuts into their ability to rip a winner with the CC shot. The CC shot has to go further and gives you more time to run it down.

    Again, I think Limp makes a good general point, but I would not make it a hard and fast rule.
     
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  48. olliess

    olliess Semi-Pro

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    I don't think he is saying it's a hard-and-fast rule. I think what he's saying is that most people severely overestimate their percentages hitting DTL in that position.

    It follows that you need to have a good reason not to hit the high-percentage shot (other than: "I got bored with this cross-court rally that I was doing fine in.").
     
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  49. dozu

    dozu Banned

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    at the rec level, 'percentage tennis' has something to do with directionals, but not as much as pounding on the swing flaws.

    most rec players, even at levels as high as arche3, have visibly weaker BH than the FH.

    in reality, there is only 1 situation I want to keep the FH CC rally going, and that is to set up the DTL to his BH.... and I will do this with maximum of 2 shots CC to his FH, to pull him just a tad wider with the 2nd one, then BAM, DTL it goes.

    I may have never played USTA, but the true understanding of 'percentage tennis' is what gave me the 'community park king' status.
     
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  50. olliess

    olliess Semi-Pro

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    And that would count as a pretty "good reason" to change directions and go DTL.

    But even then, would you do it when you're pulled out wide on your backhand side, as one poster described, or even when you are given a solid, mid-paced rally ball that bounces 2 ft from the baseline? Wouldn't you be better off hitting it crosscourt one more time and waiting a little longer for the inevitable short ball?
     
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