Is consistent depth more important than power?

Steady Eddy

Legend
The trouble with simply bunting the ball over the net isn't that it's moving slowly, so much as these shots will often lack depth, allowing the opponent some easy winners.

And to get depth it isn't really necessary to hit the ball hard as to hit it high. If your opponent doesn't like to take the ball on the rise, then after the bounce he'll have to wait for the ball to go up and then start coming down. At this point he's sure to be so far back he cannot safely hit a forcing shot?

Would this be a good way to play singles? Especially at the recreational level?
 

Curious

Legend
The trouble with simply bunting the ball over the net isn't that it's moving slowly, so much as these shots will often lack depth, allowing the opponent some easy winners.

And to get depth it isn't really necessary to hit the ball hard as to hit it high. If your opponent doesn't like to take the ball on the rise, then after the bounce he'll have to wait for the ball to go up and then start coming down. At this point he's sure to be so far back he cannot safely hit a forcing shot?

Would this be a good way to play singles? Especially at the recreational level?
What’s the most annoying spot for a rally ball to land on your side of the court? Probably the same also for your opponent.
 

aussie

Professional
Yes, depth is more important than power, although to have both would be ideal.

I know what gives me most trouble and that are shots that consistently land on my baseline. And if I keep the ball deep with medium power, I win most matches.
 

Dragy

Legend
In my opinion, the trick is to use some base level power to achieve depth by default, and to use decent spin to make that depth safe enough. Whenever I hear talks about balls consistently landing on the baseline, I know it’s either huge gap in levels or emotional reaction on what actually is not very consistent and misses long frequently enough.

Also good combination of power and spin makes balls penetrate after bounce and still push opponent back while being safe against landing long, as well as suitable for hitting angles. However, it’s a more high level, well-trained option.

I think the big problem is if you naturally drop balls short consistently. There’s option to hit higher - but moonballing may be or not be a uniform solution. Developing higher power might be fundamental to consistently drive the ball deeper.
 

SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
Gotta say, depth over power. But there's more to it than that. Control trumps power. Control with limited or modest power will work at some level. But power w/o some semblance of control does not work very well at all.

The objective of a novice player is to get the ball over the net into the (proper) playing area. Hitting with some net clearance is part of this. The next aspect of control is consistency -- keeping the ball in play. From there, the player learns some directional control. Learning to hit the ball XC, in a consistent manner, is a large part of this.

if a player learns how to do all this, with reasonably decent or sound mechanics, some power will be achieved (altho it might be modest power). Topspin is the first type of spin to be mastered with these control steps.

IMO, the next step, if not already achieved, is to hit a large majority of shots deep -- mostly into NML. Hitting some shorter angled shots are ok, but it should be considered fairly important to avoid the T area near the middle of a court.

For hitting a majority of shots deep, it will likely require something more than just minimal power. So, hitting deep will actually help to increase power somewhat. After all these elements of control can be performed, to a reasonable degree, than the developing player can put more focus / energy into producing power.
 

ZanderGoga

Semi-Pro
If you hit every ball consistently in, deep, you will never lose a point. So yeah, it’s obviously choice A.

In practice, though, it’s rarely that simple.
 

5263

G.O.A.T.
I'm not sure why people think it is depth over power. First off, if you really have power, then you can't hit short unless you are hitting a high ball downwards. 2nd is if you really use power, not only will it not be short except hitting down, but nobody can move up fast enough to treat it like a short ball.....and that goes double if you hit hard away from the opponent.

One thing for sure though, if you can't hit hard and are not using a drop shot.....then your softer hitting needs depth to avoid most attacks.

But the downside for your improvement though....there are several things about hitting higher and for depth as a default, that stunt your progress!
 

SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
This Micklada user has an interesting approach to the matters :-D:eek:
Are you the one who's given him his 5 Likes?

It appears that this disturbed individual now has more than 300 posts, most of them in the past 12-24 hours. However, it appears that some of his posts might have already been deleted by the mods. Hopefully they'll all be gone in the next few hours.. Perhaps posters who have "Liked" his tasteless content might also face a ban of some sort.

EDIT: Guess I was mistaken. The offending posts that I thought were gone in another thread are still there.
 
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SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
I'm not sure why people think it is depth over power. First off, if you really have power, then you can't hit short unless you are hitting a high ball downwards. 2nd is if you really use power, not only will it not be short except hitting down, but nobody can move up fast enough to treat it like a short ball.....and that goes double if you hit hard away from the opponent.

One thing for sure though, if you can't hit hard and are not using a drop shot.....then your softer hitting needs depth to avoid most attacks.

But the downside for your improvement though....there are several things about hitting higher and for depth as a default, that stunt your progress!
I have seen many players who hit "screaming" high-speed shots that barely clear the net and, often, barely penetrate NML. These shots can be quite effective against some players while others may thrive on them. However, if you give that latter group some deep, high bouncing balls, it takes them out of their element (comfort zone).
 

Fintft

Legend
I'm not sure why people think it is depth over power. First off, if you really have power, then you can't hit short unless you are hitting a high ball downwards. 2nd is if you really use power, not only will it not be short except hitting down, but nobody can move up fast enough to treat it like a short ball.....and that goes double if you hit hard away from the opponent.
Flat hitters of intermediate level come to mind: Many of their balls don't clear the net and for the ones that clear it, they aim for the service line (often landing inside the box), b/c otherwise they would sail long (more often than not).Very few balls will land close to the BL, but if you want to honor those and back off from the BL yourself, then, you'll have a hard time getting to short balls (like you said).
 

Fintft

Legend
I have seen many players who hit "screaming" high-speed shots that barely clear the net and, often, barely penetrate NML. These shots can be quite effective against some players while others may thrive on them. However, if you give that latter group some deep, high bouncing balls, it takes them out of their element (comfort zone).
Exactly, as per post #14 above...
 

Dartagnan64

G.O.A.T.
A ball that bounces at near the baseline is always tough. And that can be the first or second bounce. Largely because front back footwork is so tragic amongst rec players.
 

socallefty

Legend
The answer is to learn to hit heavy topspin first if you are a beginner. Unfortunately, it is not easy to do for a beginner without coaching,

if you hit heavy topspin, you can hit harder and harder for more power and still keep the ball in the court. If your topspin gets high enough, your requirement to hit with good depth goes down as you can aim at safer targets and still keep rallies on neutral as your topspin jumping up will make it difficult for opponents to attack or change the angle of your shots.

Players without topspin need power and depth to keep rallies on neutral as they progress up in levels. Players with a lot of topspin can generate more power with more shot tolerance easier and then they don’t need as much depth also.
 

Fintft

Legend
If your topspin gets high enough, your requirement to hit with good depth goes down as you can aim at safer targets and still keep rallies on neutral as your topspin jumping up will make it difficult for opponents to attack or change the angle of your shots.
Players with a lot of topspin can generate more power with more shot tolerance easier and then they don’t need as much depth also.
Not so sure about that, as Nadal's short balls (albeit with the heaviest TS) are often gobled up by the opposition...
 

Steady Eddy

Legend
Yes. but that would be forward movement which some players seem allergic to. Largely most of my more annoying doubles partners.
:p Unless I have a bona fide partner, I always assume they'll be annoying.

Many people feel that in doubles if they are not serving or receiving, then they're really not involved. They pick a spot at the beginning of the point, and just stay there until the point is over, no matter what.
 

vandre

Hall of Fame
up to a certain level, consistent depth seems to be more desirable than power. it gives your opponent fewer angles to work with while improving the chances your opponent will drop something short for you to work with. power can take time away from your opponent but it seems more beneficial above a certain level. anecdotally, it seems like you want what you don't have. i've never chewed myself after a point saying "you should have hit that harder" but i can't tell you how many times i've said "you need to hit the ball deeper" after a point...
 

socallefty

Legend
Not so sure about that, as Nadal's short balls (albeit with the heaviest TS) are often gobled up by the opposition...
The guy has won 20 Grand Slams. The other guy who has won 20 Slams has amongst the highest topspin on tour too. In fact it has been a long time since anyone who hits low topspin (relatively at Tour level) has won a Slam - maybe Medvedev will buck the trend some day. But, I would still bet on NextGen players like Tsitsipas and Sinner who hit heavy topspin to win more Slams than a flatter hitter like Medvedev.
 

Fintft

Legend
The guy has won 20 Grand Slams. The other guy who has won 20 Slams has amongst the highest topspin on tour too. In fact it has been a long time since anyone who hits low topspin (relatively at Tour level) has won a Slam - maybe Medvedev will buck the trend some day. But, I would still bet on NextGen players like Tsitsipas and Sinner who hit heavy topspin to win more Slams than a flatter hitter like Medvedev.
I understand.

Even me I use much more topspin now and dominate flat hitters to which I used to lose to.
Why?
1. Last evening my opponent had 1/3 of balls bad, 1/3 short and 1/3 good and very good, while me I had 1/3 bad balls and 2/3 good or very good.
2. But there were other factors in play, such as lower, more athletic position, split stepping, early prep, eyes at contact.

Similarely nobody fights like Nadal or moves the way he used to( with the exception of Djokovic and Medvedev, maybe)...
 

GuyClinch

Legend
If you are doing it right - you are hitting at a pace that is decent with a comfortable stroke such that it sill goes in because of the topspin you add. The power you use is dependent on your body and your technique. As it is comfortable shot - it should be like at 6-7 out of your possible 10 in power.

That's the whole point of learning to hit with topspin. If you have to go out and take pace off it by holding back - you will end up hitting the ball short from time to time - or long - because you are not relying on the topspin to bring it down.

I blame MEP for this hacker theory being pushed through here. For every MEP there are 99 guys like Tennis Troll who use topspin and hit deep to dominate their opponents..
 

FiddlerDog

Professional
I blame MEP for this hacker theory being pushed through here. For every MEP there are 99 guys like Tennis Troll who use topspin and hit deep to dominate their opponents..
Yet, after 20 years of tennis, you have never gotten past 3.5, which is the level you start at by purchasing a racket and having 2 legs.
Maybe it's time you start to accept that you know nothing about how tennis works (3.5), and accept that you're in no position to be lecturing anyone about how to become a good tennis player
 
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GuyClinch

Legend
Yet, after 20 years of tennis, you have never gotten past 3.5, which is the level you start at by purchasing a racket and having 2 legs.
Maybe it's time you start to accept that you know nothing about how tennis works (3.5), and accept that you're in no position to be lecturing anyone about how to become a good tennis player
Yeah I was working so hard at playing tennis in NYC... So much court time! So much practice. I played maybe 10 times a year in NYC - for 1 hour each - and I lived there 15 years.
 

FiddlerDog

Professional
Yeah I was working so hard at playing tennis in NYC... So much court time! So much practice. I played maybe 10 times a year in NYC - for 1 hour each - and I lived there 15 years.
Try slicing the ball more like MEP, you'll win more matches
 

McGradey

Professional
All things being equal, depth trumps power—look at Djokovic for a great example of this at the highest level of the game.

The cornerstone of Djokovic's game is to win by smothering his opponent with a relentlessly deep ball that is nearly impossible to attack. This is not a unique strategy, it's baseline tennis 101; he just executes it better than everybody else.

Rarely does he hit straight through people or blast winners from nowhere.

He wins most points by forcing an error—by consistently hitting the ball very deep. He can hit deep down the middle of the court and wait for an error, or start to work the angles that become available to him as his opponent's replies get shorter.

Djokovic also uses deep shots from defensive positions to win points. Opponents get him on the run and see dollar signs, but leave themselves in a compromised position as they "go for broke" on a winner attempt, only to find the ball returned deep yet again, often leaving them chasing after the ball in a defensive scramble. Their reply will probably be weak or an error and it ends up being his point rather than theirs.
 
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5263

G.O.A.T.
I have seen many players who hit "screaming" high-speed shots that barely clear the net and, often, barely penetrate NML. These shots can be quite effective against some players while others may thrive on them. However, if you give that latter group some deep, high bouncing balls, it takes them out of their element (comfort zone).
I don't see screamers landing short, but your point is good anyway.....that said though, it is a different issue. Against some players, higher bounce balls give them troubles and against some players, flat, faster balls bother them. This is a issue of opponent weakness, tactical issue, not one saying either shot is superior on it's face. In fact, it shows how both shots have their place in a well rounded game.

But when all is said and done, hitting hard and away from your opponent if you have good power....is the highest skill. If it isn't working, the problem isn't about power or depth, but far more about the shot line, or hitting further away from your opponent. But sure, if you hit soft, depth is quite important on those shots.

So in the end, Depth clearly doesn't trump power or we would see a bunch of amazing pushers dominate the pro game.
 
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SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
I don't see screamers landing short, but your point is good anyway.....that said though, it is a different issue. Against some players, higher bounce balls give them troubles and against some players, flat, faster balls bother them. This is a issue of opponent weakness, tactical issue, not one saying either shot is superior on it's face. In fact, it shows how both shots have their place in a well rounded game.

But when all is said and done, hitting hard and away from your opponent if you have good power....is the highest skill. If it isn't working, the problem isn't about power or depth, but far more about the shot line, or hitting further away from your opponent. But sure, if you hit soft, depth is quite important on those shots.

So in the end, Depth clearly doesn't trump power or we would see a bunch of amazing pushers dominate the pro game.
WRT depth trumps power...

I was referring to a progression, not an end goal. It's not a matter of either-or. I'm not saying that a player should develop a style where they maximize depth without ever developing power.

As a player learns proper mechanics and learns how to get the ball deep, they will already be developing some power even tho they may not be focusing on that aspect. Once directional control, height control, spin control & depth control are mastered to some degree, then the focus can be on (even) more power (and more spin if needed).
 
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Dartagnan64

G.O.A.T.
Most aren't allergic to forward movement but the inevitable lob and the backward movement needed.
Yes rec doubles players by and large have two irrational fears. The fear of the DTL passing shot and the fear of the lob winner. They hang too far back and too far out wide. And they spend their whole lives falling victim to people that aren't afraid of those things.
 

5263

G.O.A.T.
All things being equal, depth trumps power—
Gotta say, depth over power.
Right that you are logical about your progression, but my comments are about the age old argument quoted above.

Yes, I realize you go on to describe how you see the progression of a player in a very logical progression that does have some merit....but my point is that I'm convinced that the quote above is not the best starting point for your progression. I realize it is the most accepted starting point and has been established advice for many years, so you have that advantage. What I'm saying is that "depth over Pace" is a logical fallacy that when examined, doesn't hold water. It requires so many braces to hold it up.

For instance, the question assumes you have the option. It assumes you can do either one and which will be better on avg...... Depth will rarely EVER trump Power. If you are comparing equal skill with each, then power is nearly always the better choice.

Also, What is depth? When I bring depth up as "the back 3-5 ft of the court" here on tt, many will argue saying good depth is merely past the svc line. Ok, so if that is true, then tell me you rather hit a soft shot to 1 ft past the svc line instead of a 75mph rip to the same bounce point (given you understand why you can't hardly hit 75mph inside the svc line except in special situations). If you think hitting past the svc line is solid depth, then this whole question goes out the window, because you should realize that even moderate pace is going to achieve this level of depth on the reg.

So Imo the much more accurate starting point for this logical progression is, " Depth when you can't produce Power". If you don't have the skill or you are in a poor position to create or use your power, then sure, good depth can help. As to the progression, hitting higher due to low power to produce more depth can be a good tactic, but wouldn't normally be better than good power and Imo actually will delay developing the skill of more power. As you learn to groove your stroke with a higher trajectory to add depth, this habit runs counter to a trajectory that will be more accommodating to developing skills for hitting with power. Hitting higher for depth will develop habits of opening the racket face, swinging more "low to high" and modulating power for control. If the goal is to develop a strong and powerful game, then using a trajectory, racket face angle and swing plane that will give success with a powerful swing is the more productive path. Imo this is why some of the greats have suggested to hit it hard first, then try to learn how to control it later. Oddly I don't buy into the hit it hard, control it later mantra either
 
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Fintft

Legend
Depth will rarely EVER trump Power. If you are comparing equal skill with each, then power is nearly always the better choice.

" As you learn to groove your stroke with a higher trajectory to add depth, this habit runs counter to a trajectory that will be more accommodating to developing skills for hitting with power. Hitting higher for depth will develop habits of opening the racket face, swinging more "low to high" and modulating power for control. If the goal is to develop a strong and powerful game, then using a trajectory, racket face angle and swing plane that will give success with a powerful swing is the more productive path. Imo this is why some of the greats have suggested to hit it hard first, then try to learn how to control it later. Oddly I don't buy into the hit it hard, control it later mantra either
To the former: As Micha Zverev pointed just now, what helped Nadal change things against Sinner, just now, was either hitting long (close to the BL) or short, angled balls. So depth trumps power....

As for the latter: What do you suggest than? As I find myself htting with higher trajectory to avoid the net, but that seems to lose power?
 

Morch Us

Professional
Depends on level of play.

Of course the first thing is the ability to get the ball across the net... more often than your opponent.

Then you have to learn "offense" and "defense", so that you don't do stupid mistakes.

But at some point, you have to have a clear understanding of "neutral" shots, which is the key to point construction.

Eventually you will learn that the amount of pressure you apply (by consistency as well as not providing comfortable shots to attack) determines how much of easier balls and errors you receive from opponent.

Short summary is:
in general
depth is more important than pace in "neutral" shots.
pace is more important than depth in "offensive" shots (along with placement).
But there can be exceptions to this rule.

And of course... there is always a "proper" mix of placement+pace+depth ... in every shot.


Would this be a good way to play singles? Especially at the recreational level?
 

5263

G.O.A.T.
To the former: As Micha Zverev pointed just now, what helped Nadal change things against Sinner, just now, was either hitting long (close to the BL) or short, angled balls. So depth trumps power....

As for the latter: What do you suggest than? As I find myself htting with higher trajectory to avoid the net, but that seems to lose power?
The Nadal example isn't solid, since Nadal hits with power for both long and short.

My main issue is having better ideas in mind, such as "If you can't hit with power, then good depth is you best option". (can't meaning either you don't have power or the circumstances don't allow you to)

The suggestion I think is better is to "Hit Away", meaning to find the trajectory that allows you to use your natural power hit away (meaning as hard as you can comfortably swing without big effort), as well as meaning to hit away from your opponent to put them on the move. Usually one side is more open. If the coverage is balanced, the bright side is that you can hit to the side you prefer. Jamming your opponent is also a good option for this "Hit Away" power level.

Will this Hit Away approach make a 4.0 beat his 5.0 buddies? I doubt it, but floating it deeper won't either. I do think that learning to "Hit away" from your opponent as you develop your trajectory control for powerful shots is your best chance to join them at 5.0 though.

* Disclaimer....I don't think this a stand alone tip by any means....I just think it is a way better starting point than "Depth trumps Pace" and it is a response to that logical fallacy. Not only do I teach to "Hit Away" using the Smart Target Hitting Lanes, but I teach the shapes of shots that best help get the shots into the lanes given the type of shot you are receiving vs the lane you intend to work. In the Congruent Tennis system, I teach the original blueprint for "Shot Matching" based the contact point, court position, type of incoming ball and shot lane intended. (Let the course marketers begin with their knock offs of "shot matching" and "shot shaping" programs, lol) With this system you can swing much more freely and with purpose behind each swing of the racket.
 

Fintft

Legend
The suggestion I think is better is to "Hit Away", meaning to find the trajectory that allows you to use your natural power hit away (meaning as hard as you can comfortably swing without big effort), as well as meaning to hit away from your opponent to put them on the move. Usually one side is more open. If the coverage is balanced, the bright side is that you can hit to the side you prefer. Jamming your opponent is also a good option for this "Hit Away" power level.
Thanks and how about hitting behind your opponent, especially on clay or if they are heavy?

Btw, Sinner was hitting harder than Nadal, while Nadal was hitting hard enough and also HEAVY with his FH.
He also switched tactics a lot such as hitting BH DTL (rare for him) for about 5 winners, more than Sinner,
 

5263

G.O.A.T.
Thanks and how about hitting behind your opponent, especially on clay or if they are heavy?

Btw, Sinner was hitting harder than Nadal, while Nadal was hitting hard enough and also HEAVY with his FH.
He also switched tactics a lot such as hitting BH DTL (rare for him) for about 5 winners, more than Sinner,
Sure, hitting behind is just an advanced way to hit away from them and get set up will by hitting away first to set them up for it.....

Ok, Sinner hit a bit harder, but they are both hitting hard. I bet Sinner missed long way more too.
 

Fintft

Legend
Short summary is:
in general
depth is more important than pace in "neutral" shots.
pace is more important than depth in "offensive" shots (along with placement).
But there can be exceptions to this rule.

And of course... there is always a "proper" mix of placement+pace+depth ... in every shot.
Fabulous, thanks !
 
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