How to control the baseline?

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by ark_28, Jul 2, 2013.

  1. ark_28

    ark_28 Hall of Fame

    Aug 11, 2010
    So my forehand has always been a strength but my one handed backhand has been a bit lightweight to compete with really good players from the baseline, so I have been developing my two hander and am now confident enough to use this in match play.

    I have been working hard at my footwork whether I hit a forehand or backhand and getting back to the centre of the baseline right after hitting my shot.

    I love to be aggressive and my footwork has improved lots but sometimes when I lose concentration I find myself getting pushed back behind the baseline and I have to switch back on and remember to keep on top of the baseline, are there and good drills or ways to stop myself getting pushed back?

    Against good players it can happen but sometimes in my case it is against players that I end up beating but just go through periods in the match where I zone out get pushed back then have to pump myself up to control the baseline again.

    Any tips would be great guys :)
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2013
  2. Larrysümmers

    Larrysümmers Hall of Fame

    Jun 29, 2009
    1313 Mockingbird Lane.
    just gotta get up there really. earlier you recognize the incoming shot and setting up, the better, ive found.
  3. GoudX

    GoudX Professional

    Aug 17, 2012
    Usually, you can't just decide to stand on the baseline and expect to be in control of the rallies. You need to hit shots which will draw defensive shots from the opponent by either forcing them off the back of the court or by running them off of the court. These defensive shots will allow you to step up to the baseline (or into no-mans-land). You then need to keep hitting these shots if you want to stay in control!

    There are plenty of ways you can draw the defensive shot and gain control of the point, to list a few:
    • Use pace to push your opponent off of the court.
    • Place angled shots to get your opponent off the side of the court.
    • Hit deep with topspin to move the opponents' ideal contact point back.
    • Slice a ball short to draw a weak shot, and bring the opponent out of position.
    • Flatten the ball into the corner to reduce the ball flight time.
    • Hit the opponent's shots on the rise, to reduce their time.
    • Vary placement to get the opponent running.
  4. Lukhas

    Lukhas Legend

    Apr 3, 2013
    This is wrong. When you initiate a cross-court rally, the ball has much more chances to come back cross court. Why? Because the net is lower. Because it's much easier to hit a ball from where it came. Because the angles are also bigger to work with. Basically, it's the high percentage play. So in fact, you should not recover to the middle of the court. You still should recover, but stay a bit more towards the side where you were hitting, so that you're not in the middle of the court, but more or less two steps towards the area you're recovering from.

    It also means than when you receive a cross-court ball, it will also be easier to put it cross-court than DTL because you don't have as much court to cover from an eventual cross-court reply (high percentage) that would force you to cover all the way from the BH side to the FH side. With exceptions of course. You may be inclined to change direction of the CC rally if your BH or FH is better than your opponent BH or FH. Basically, if you're Murray, you're not going to trade BH with Gasquet, because even if your BH is your best shot, it's Gasquet on the other side, so it makes no sense to go for a BH rally, you're gonna loose. But going FH to FH would be more clever, because even if Gasquet has a decent enough FH, your forehand is likely better than his FH. That what he did in Miami, yet Gasquet was injured and waiting for the match to end after the first set.

    And about controlling the baseline...

    Unless you're even a budget version of Agassi or even Ferrer, taking half volleys on the baseline is not going to work a lot. It's crazy hard. It doesn't mean you have to rally from the backyard either of course.
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2013
  5. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

    Dec 28, 2008
    East side of San Francisco Bay
    Easy that....
    When you practice, or just hit, do not hit any balls near the middle of the baseline, limit yourself only to shots within 5' of either sideline.
    You play the way you practice. If you practice hitting near sidelines, you will play that way.
    Might take a month, might take a year.
    Best you hit against two guys, then rotate.
  6. Kilco

    Kilco Guest

    The key is depth. I play with a very talented junior might actually put clips of him up on this forum. He plays a carbon copy of federer and when he is in the zone his shots are landing very close to the baseline, if you can pound your opponents baseline I guarantee you can step into the court and control the point put away his short balls etc
  7. 2ndServe

    2ndServe Professional

    Mar 6, 2008
    hit forehands to the other person's backhand, repeat till you get a short ball. Sounds simple but that's how the greatest players of all time have dominated from the backcourt.
  8. Bobby Jr

    Bobby Jr Legend

    Jul 5, 2010
    I know. It's such an obvious way to get on top and yet people don't do it. (I'm left-handed) and when I get cc balls to my backhand I often even elect to slice up the line so they have to hit a backhand (usually to my forehand). Even if you have to sacrifice pace by choosing to play to your opponents backhand it is still usually the better option against the majority of opponents at any level.

    I played a guy recently with a really big forehand - much bigger than any of his other shots. I focussed on not letting him hit any forehands at all. The plan worked too - the times he did manage to hit one he often overbaked it. It also exhausted him as most situations where the traditionally good play for me was to play to his forehand side I instead kept playing to his backhand. It drove him nuts - especially because he ought to have been able to power me off the court if we were both hitting off our preferred wing.
  9. johnchung907

    johnchung907 Rookie

    Sep 23, 2012
    100 percent agree with that claim. It's what I do most of the time, but.. my playing partners tend to have a great backhand and forehand... Sometimes they get a slice in, then I just pow it away and come up to the net to finish off the point.
  10. 2ndServe

    2ndServe Professional

    Mar 6, 2008
    also add in develop excellent footwork, speed and fitness so you can run around the backhand and master an offensive running forehand.

    Bolletteri literally built an empire on this strategy. Ever seen Bolletteri hit? He's pretty bad, but the man understood the major dynamics of controlling the point.
  11. dominikk1985

    dominikk1985 Legend

    Feb 11, 2011

    great post. just trying to be agassi and stand on the BL no matter what without having forcing shots will lead to a lot of errors and weak bunt half volleys.
  12. 10isfreak

    10isfreak Semi-Pro

    Dec 19, 2012
    First tip: never recover to the middle of the court; recover to the middle of your opponent's options. At the baseline, it means that you should more or less mirror the contact position of your opponent. To make things simple, people generally assume 3 recovery positions. First, if you hit down the center, stick to the center; if you hit cross-court of your forehand, recover a step away from the center mark toward your forehand side; if you hit cross-court of your backhand, recover a step away from the center mark toward your backhand... in essence, you always cheat over expecting a cross-court rally because changing direction through down the line shots is a lower percentage play.

    There are times where you WANT to stop hugging the baseline and retreat. You have an opponent in front of you and you have to respect the fact he might hit a sufficiently good shot to force you further behind the baseline. Your footwork, your recovery position, your shot selection -- everything has to be consequent to the situation wherein you find yourself. There are times to be aggressive and there are times where your play is to simply neutralize your opponent.

    If your opponent makes a great play, regardless of who it is, you have to respect that and commit yourself to play the shots the situation requires. If it's good enough to force you back, you're in a defensive position. The appropriate response is not to step up the aggression; the appropriate response to find a way to neutralize the offensive edge of your opponent. If you want to control the baseline, if you want to avoid as much as possible getting pushed back, you have to hit shots that are sufficiently commanding to prevent your opponent from being capable to push you behind the baseline too often and without too much risks.

    If you want the usual response, when you are in trouble, as soon as you can hit from a sufficiently good position, think about a big cross-court ball. Anything sufficiently hard and deep will neutralize your opponent. If he's not prepared, it might even give you a weak ball to attack. If you have a really big forehand and your opponent rather attacks with angles, think about deep and down the center. You don't go fancy there, you just smack it really hard down the center. Against people who love spinning the ball, it nearly always work! I have a third option for you, but that requires a really good backhand slice. If you can get set into position, hit a good slice cross-court. If you lay it down sufficiently low (at least lower than the net) and sufficiently short (you want your opponent to be forced to make the forward and knee-bending adjustments here), you'll put him into trouble.
  13. sundaypunch

    sundaypunch Hall of Fame

    May 17, 2011

    This is good advice. It all comes down to finding some way to keep pressure your opponent. Anything to keep them from going on the offensive.
  14. user92626

    user92626 Legend

    Jan 27, 2008
    But if they're a error prone, ue producing machine, encourage them to be offensive :)
  15. tennis_hack

    tennis_hack Banned

    May 14, 2013
    Why get into baseline rallies in the first place? You're the Isner fan aren't you? Why not do what he does? Hit big serve. Profit.

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