I believe forcing errors is the key to winning, so how do we do it?

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by HunterST, May 11, 2013.

  1. HunterST

    HunterST Hall of Fame

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    Even very high level coaches say the key to winning is limiting unforced errors. However, It seems to me like the best players, while consistent, do more than just get a strong rally ball back over and over. They are able hit shots that put their opponent under a lot of pressure and force their opponent into a lot of errors.

    So, the question is, how do we force errors while still playing high percentage tennis? Power, depth, and angle all put the opponent under pressure, but also lower the chance of the shot being in.

    What tactics/strategies do you use?
     
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  2. travlerajm

    travlerajm Hall of Fame

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    Key is knowing when to pull the trigger and when not to. On a neutral ball, the percentage play may be to hit a high and deep medium pace shot that doesn't pressure your opponent but pushes him back and makes him more likely to hit a "partial error."

    By "partial error", I mean a shot that lands short enough that I would no longer consider it neutral - a shot that is weak enough to give you a chance to hit an offensive shot with much higher percentage success rate than a neutral shot.

    How many tmes you pull the trigger will depend on the opponent. Agaist some opponents, you may never get very many weaker shots, and your percentage play is to never go for (to push). Against other opponents, a high deep ball may not be good enough to be neutral, and you'll need to have slighlty more aggressive shot just to stay in a neutral position.
     
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  3. HunterST

    HunterST Hall of Fame

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    Nice post! That makes a lot of sense.
     
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  4. Wilson6-1

    Wilson6-1 Rookie

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    I agree with your coach. For me, at least at the 4.0 level, the more times I get it over, the more likely I win the point.

    In regards to your question, and for me, it is all about placement. I try to avoid back and forth rallies because I will eventually over-hit myself. I also don't want to just throw up a soft return (even if placed well). For me it is about maintaining pace with placement. I find that if I stay in it (avoid over-hitting) but maintain pace, normally a ball will come back that I can then dictate the point.
     
    Last edited: May 11, 2013
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  5. skiracer55

    skiracer55 Hall of Fame

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    #5
  6. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    I think the key, for rec players, is having solid, reliable topspin shots. It doesn't have to be heavy topspin. Just that coming over the ball is a higher percentage shot than flat or undercut. If the placement is reasonably good, then only moderate pace is enough to play forcing, winning tennis at the rec level, in my very inexperienced current opinion.
     
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  7. jakeytennis

    jakeytennis Rookie

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    1. consistency - giving them one more opportunity to mess up

    2. hitting to their weaker shots. like giving them tons of backhands

    3. attacking movement- making your opponent run more and
    getting balls out of their strikezone

    4. attacking time- hitting faster or volleying to give your opponent less time in between shots


    some people cant handle consistency, pace, getting their BH pounded, or running a lot.

    the best players use all 4 well, but that takes a lot of skill/practice.
     
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  8. Lukhas

    Lukhas Legend

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    Pretty much this.
     
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  9. Relinquis

    Relinquis Hall of Fame

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    also, mixing up pace, spin and type of shot if you are able... i.e. in a backhand to backhand rally of mainly your rally ball, throw in a deep slice occasionally or a loopy topspin shot to get a weak/short reply you can attack...

    in order to do this effectively you need to have the skill to hit different types of shots at least somewhat consistently.
     
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  10. MarTennis

    MarTennis Rookie

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    To explicitly force errors...

    ...a player must possess and master all forms of pace. Must be willing to utilize different stroke speeds constantly and employ with an unending array of spins during point exchanges. In order to acceptably finish games and sets, a powerful service game is also mandatory to employ this style and win a lot.
     
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  11. magnut

    magnut Hall of Fame

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    This is the best advice I have seen so far.

    I will also add...

    Moving forward to the net

    Read your opponent....is he up....is he down....is he tired....is he inspired. Study the momentum and psychology of the the sport. Sometimes its as simple as being patient and baiting them. Both Nadal and Wilander do this very well.

    The biggest thing you need to start understanding is the Wardlaw Directions. Every pro uses them.....Every single one. Not all the time, but they know when to use them and what the risks are of not useing them.
     
    #11
  12. dominikk1985

    dominikk1985 Legend

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    smack it hard, but not so hard that you hit home runs. that is the secret of tennis:).
     
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  13. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    We all have different "best games".
    Some of us need to smack the ball.
    Some of us need to move the opponent around, while being moved around ourselves.
    Some of us need to slow down the pace, get into the head of our opponent's.
    Some of us like to change the pace and spin constantly.
    Some of us like to just out consistent our opponent's.
    What works best for YOUR game can only be found thru years and thousands of tennis sets.
     
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  14. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    That's because you see tennis in only your own eyes.
    If you knew that players have different strengths and weakness, players use different strategies, and NO one strategy works best for everyone, you'd understand the meaning of my posts.
    I can see more different playing styles and strategies because I play with each different hand, have different weakness and strengths with each side, and know it also applies to different players.
    For instance, applying pressure with a big first serve. You cannot apply pressure with a big serve unless you HAVE a big serve. Not every single tennis player has a big serve. You DO understand that part, don't you?
     
    #14
  15. Kilco

    Kilco Guest

    I know what you mean exactly, but start a thread about the variables in tennis and with players, their style, personalities, tactics, equipment, ability, height, weight everything that varies from player to player.

    That can be your thread and stop posting this rubbish everywhere.
     
    #15
  16. magnut

    magnut Hall of Fame

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    Thats funny. I thought I was the only one. I also can play with the other side. What started out as a necessity ,due to having to take a year break from my right arm (poly elbow syndrome), turned into a regular routine where I change hands every other day.

    Its kind of funny, right handed I try to play graceful like Edberg...however I end up playing scrappier/jerkier more like Rafter.

    Left handed I try to play all court fluid touch game like Rios (one handed backhand though).....however it ends up being more like some meth crazed baseline scrapper like Nadal.

    There is truth in what you say. Its really interesting trying to win matches with different styles of play. You have to adjust your entire mental outlook on the game. You just have to see the court differently. Even from an emotional standpoint. Your thinking with the opposite side of your brain.

    Even though I am a serve and volley freak I do enjoy playing lefty. Serve and volley is just so highly skilled I have not been able to develop the feel with the left side to make it effective against players at my level.

    I am working on it though. The volleys are almost there. The serve takes a while. Very streaky....some days its on and some days its not quite there. I will get it though.
     
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  17. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Poster 16, you obviously are lacking in tennis experience.
    What is the title of this thread? "forcing errors is the key to winning, so how do we do it"?
    So, you think DavideFerrer does it the same way as NovakDjokovic? Do they do it like Isner? Does Haas do it differently?
    WHY do they use different strategies, when they're just trying to force errors?
    Because THEY have different weaknesses and strengths!
    You are expecting a universal answer to a playing style based question. What, are you 17 years old?
    The world is not solely black or white. It's all shades of gray.
     
    #17
  18. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    Hunter, over the last yr or so you keep bringing up one excellent topic after
    another....and have done it again. I also think above you picked a very good
    post to comment on above, having noticed it's subtle quality.

    To add a little, IMO the key is to mesh the two items of greatly reducing the
    UEs, while figuring how to force errors when you can. I think that is what you
    are asking about here and it will even help to reduce your UEs if you can
    pressure them with your ability to FEs on them.

    Really take stock of what you can and can't do with short and mid ct attackable
    balls. Just cause someone can, doesn't mean you should. Everyone has their
    own skill set. Just make sure you have some in your inventory that will work
    with the opportunities you tend to get based on your play.
    For instance, Most of my students tend to specialize on the Fh I/O to set up the
    inside in as well, along with the Bh slice for lower balls; with a big focus on
    attacking the easy ball anywhere near the center T....so you can attack
    either corner and follow to net with less complexity.
    Keeps things simpler, which keeps the UEs down.
     
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  19. sundaypunch

    sundaypunch Hall of Fame

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    This is obvious, but forcing people to hit with the ball out of their strike zone is one way to encourage errors. Avoid hitting in the middle 1/3 of the court and get them moving. Sometimes taking a little pace off and going for more angles helps.
     
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2013
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  20. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    Great comment and not as obvious as you may think.
     
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  21. tenapasi

    tenapasi Rookie

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    Simple.
    1. You have the weapon.
    e.g: Powerful forehand, deadly slice, awesome drop shot, etc.
    2. Know when to do it.
    - Basically, when rallying, you're trying to create the moment where you can unleash your weapon.

    But, do not focus on forcing error of your opponents. If you're playing with someone whose very good on defense but not have strong weapon, but he always returns your strokes, eventually you'll feel frustrated and impatient. Sooner or later, you'll created unforced errors.

    Analyze your opponent. Find his/her weakness. Do not rely heavily on forced error. But do it if you see the opening.
     
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2013
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  22. user92626

    user92626 Legend

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    I wonder if the OP or anyone after asking for tips and such bothers to copy them down and rehearse until you know by heart what to do during a match. It really works when you know alot and select a tactic to try. Basically, don't feel clueless when a match starts. :)
     
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  23. LeftyRighty

    LeftyRighty Rookie

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    Is it legal to serve extremely soft, and slow so that it bounces twice IN the service box? That way your opponent is standing behind baseline, and will never have a chance to get to it. That's ONE way to force an error, lol.

    Is that legal though? Is there a rule that says the second bounce on a serve HAS to be outside the service box?

    Played a game with my wife and she served it like that, and called it an ace. I called BS lmao. Even after rolling it barely made it to the baseline.
     
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  24. Lukhas

    Lukhas Legend

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    It is legal. If you can cope with your opponent punching you at the end of the match for "awful" gamesmanship that is... :lol:
     
    #24
  25. looseleftie

    looseleftie Rookie

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    Errors are the key, both forced and unforced...

    1.hit the ball into play, to make your opponent have to hit another one (goes without saying)
    2.put away or make agressive shot when the ball is right to be hit forcibly, win it, or set it up
    3.have patience, build your points.
    4.rally from baseline keep shots beyond service line.
    5.identify opponents weakness.
    6.build pressure on opponent, if possible against their big serve, focus on consistant returns, take their weapon away from there.
    7.move opponent to where they are not comfrotable, to the net, angled short returns cross court, whatever it takes.

    and a million more ways, it's different from game to game, player to player...
     
    #25
  26. GoudX

    GoudX Professional

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    I've never understood that. A 120mph scorcher down the T, or a slice serve which clears the sidelines isn't considered cheap (unless you are much better than your opponent), but god forbid you even try varying depth on serve!
     
    #26
  27. Forbin

    Forbin New User

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    Totally legal, but don't hate. As a returner, it's legal to stand anywhere you like, including just behind the service line.

    Re-drop anyone?
     
    #27
  28. Lukhas

    Lukhas Legend

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    Well, varying depth isn't the problem actually. To serve a ball that will bounce twice before it hits the baseline while being low enough not to be attacked by your opponent (who can stand anywhere on the court on the return), you basically have to do this:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0JYHBFkDAbs

    And even if it's legal, it's frowned upon.
     
    #28
  29. 10isfreak

    10isfreak Semi-Pro

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    I like to throw off the rhythm of my opponents.

    My best forehand is rather heavy and high-kicking, so I tend to hit most of my shots that way. On very-high balls, I like to hit a real flat shot and it does get me a few short balls to move forward. Sometimes, I purposefully take some pace off my stroke, aim slightly shorter but with way more spin to get the ball even higher in the strike zone of my opponent.

    Because the ball had a more vertical trajectory, you don't benefit of much pace from my part to play the ball back. That's where I see if my opponent can generate on his own or if he's relying on my power to hit his ground strokes. I do not do it all too often because, once you see it coming, it's not that hard to punish for a good player, but it's nice being able to give your opponent a different look.

    Off both wing, I can do that sort of trick. Since I can hit with much spin, I also can vary angles more than most people do and it does work well.

    The absolute worst thing for most people is to adapt to a different situation. Personally, I stopped sucking against pushers once I managed to learn how to hit low balls and improved my footwork (especially the footwork patterns required to move forward). I am not a pusher, but I can tease you like a pusher in my own way when I feel it's necessary.

    By experience, most amateurs thrive in "uni-dimensional tennis rallies." In tennis, you have depth, direction, angles, spin, contact height, pace, etc. You have a lot of variables to play with... most stick to one or two and glue their shoes to the baseline -- enjoy taking benefit of that.
     
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  30. 10isfreak

    10isfreak Semi-Pro

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    This is self-explanatory, I think.
     
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  31. 10isfreak

    10isfreak Semi-Pro

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    The nice part about pushers is that you have the luxury of waiting for the perfect ball before attacking. He'll never attack you, so it's not a problem if you don't hit big shots or if you have to hit ten of them before attacking.

    Most amateurs get impatient and try to kill every weak ball as if it was a scarce resource against pushers... you nearly only get neutral or defensive shots: you have plenty of opportunities to smack a winner. Be picky!
     
    #31
  32. braedenM

    braedenM New User

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    Have great length on all your shots, or keep them deep in the court. If you do that it will take the backswing away from your opponents(leading to more errors). Once i figured out how to have length in a rally, my opponents errors went up dramatically.
     
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  33. Bagumbawalla

    Bagumbawalla Hall of Fame

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    If an opponent has more stamina than you, more consistancy, speed, more accuracy, more patience, better technique, powers of observation, ability to construct points and general court sense- then you are not going to force him/her into enough errors to win the match-up. But, wait, your opponent, with all those skills can do exactly that-- to you. Hmmmmm.

    So, if you can get to the ball, strike it well, be consistant, have a sense for your opponent's weaknesses, place the ball where you want- with the spin/velocity you want- then you are on your way to being a very frustrating opponent, yourself.

    Keep practicing, keep learning, keep improving.
     
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