Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by 5263, Feb 11, 2012.
I like your this approach for playing/winning from the baseline. For recreational players, once you get a short ball or an approach shot, are you still using those triangles as targets or are you trying to hit to deeper and closer to the baseline?
I'd roughly define a short ball as one you can contact within a yard of the service line (presumably the ball doesn't have a lot of pace or spin). A putaway ball would have to be at least knee high otherwise for me it'd have to be an approach shot.
It'd be neat to see a chart/map of short balls/approaches that pros take to see if there's a difference?
5263, thanks for sharing this great post...when you explained about how a player can "over power" a player at a lower skill level...and then when facing a player of equal/greater skill level try to "over power" them, you described my situation perfectly! I faced an opponent last night, (equal to my level) and found myself getting frustrated and trying to hit harder and making many unforced errors....I took a deep breath when I was serving and he had me at break point, and decided to incorporate your "smart target" strategy...I had amazing results! I came back to win the set (I was down 4-2)...now I cannot wait to get back on the court! Thanks![/COLOR]
Glad you found the Smart Targets helpful, and...
Yes, still using them for all phases of play, including short & mid court attacks, low & reg slices,
volleys, and overheads.
IMO it is really the beauty of this concept, that the triangles are designed to be
versatile enough for all phases of play. One reason is the concept accounts for exceptions
right off the bat. There are reasons to hit to other places at times, but the key is
knowing those exceptions and doing it for those reasons. If you don't know a reason
to hit somewhere else, then use these default targets, and you won't often go wrong,
especially if you choose the right one! I do believe that often one is a way better choice
than the other in given situations.
Another reason is that the targets are constructed to allow for sharper angles,
as well as deeper angles. If you want to take volley or high easy short ball and
break it off on a sharp angle, then work the corner of the triangle that is just inside the svc line, but
if you have a lower ball to handle, working the deeper angle often works better.
If you need to play it safer, then work the corner of the triangle that is farther
from the sides of the court.
I think that once you get the idea of how well the triangles can work, then the next
level is to figure how best to use the different corners with your game, along with
focusing on when you want to make exceptions and do something different, like looking
to jam your returns right back at the server.
Last point; Remember that these targets are for guidelines, meaning that actually hitting
the triangle itself is not so important as using the triangle to help you sort and
use the court without taking on too much depth risks.
That is really cool to hear that!
Glad you had already read up on them.
It took a good bit of charting to notice this subtle piece of info about how matches
tend to be played differently, based on how closely matched the players are on that day.
I was probably as amazed as anybody, when I realized that better players use a
significantly different shot selection when they are in a challenging match with
another better type player. Helps you to understand that what we need to improve
and get better at, is not quite what you might expect based on what was done
to you by a vastly superior player in a 6-1 whipping.
Very glad you were able to use this info to improve your play.
Really good post!
Hmm how do you aim for these in practise anyway? I always tend to hit near the lines, going long or wide a little sometimes. But somehow I can't seem to dial it in without screwing up my mechanics or stroke. How do you guys revise your technique to fit the smart targets?
I put the cones out to mark the triangles, then feed balls for students to work on hitting to those areas from receiving different balls to different parts of the court. I usually start with the I/O Fh rally, then move to a shorter I/O near the
It was a different perspective to keep these targets in mind while watching FO on TV (mostly watched Sharapova and Young). I'd always assumed they were aiming for the lines and the shorter balls were misses, but I think at least statistically the smart targets are the "true" targets.
The other consideration is to factor where your opponent will hit your shot. It seemed as though the player hitting more shots inside the baseline was doing better. So if you're not painting the lines you have to either hit it with a lot of spin/kick or make sure you get a good angle and get them on the run.
I would have liked to have seen Nadal's match. I would expect a lefty-righty should still have the same distribution of shots?
here's from today's Nadal's match.
you can see that Nadal is actually hitting shorter than Bolelli. yet he had zero problems winning very comfortably.
Hope you can continue to post some of these diagrams, as they are great to see.
Pretty clear that the density of shots landing in the back 3-5' and side 1-2' is pretty thin, which
is in line with the theory of this thread.
Also notice how each player was targeting the others Bh to an extent,
even at this high level of play.
I'll give one example. Say your opponent has a very heavily spun forehand... you can rival him with pace and even outplay him, but he can pull much better angles. What do you do? Go for your shot, but choose a huge target: right in the center of no man's land and punish it real bad. Just make sure it's not too short.
By sending the ball down the middle, you're closing angles and by hitting a little deeper, you make his angle of possible response much narrower and a heavy top spin hitter in such cases is often striking short balls... that's how Soderling and Del Potro used to get through Nadal: aiming big at a big target. Of course, once you have the short ball, you move your target and use the angles, but if you're looking at neutralizing your opponent's weapon, aiming down the center can be a solution at times. You won't find too many instances wherein hitting there is a good idea, but that's one.
An other one is for those who have troubles with their running strokes. Some people will offset their hitting targets a bit toward the center, conceding some ground and some run-around occasions, to prevent themselves from being ran too wide, especially when hitting two handed strokes. Ever seen a guy who plays two handed off both sides? He'll center his strokes more than most players and, despite being able to hit winners or hard, his major weapon will be that he barely will ever miss a single shot. If you play this kind of opponent, your game is about increasing your angles to make his horizontal court coverage a lot bigger.
You give some good examples of exceptions, which this theory accommodates,
but while hitting down the middle cuts down big angles to one side, it concedes center court control, so as you mention,
you are in a great position to work them to both sides.
I said it had to be struck firmly... it's not a huge problem to concede the center court provided your shot is neutralizing enough. Besides, I'm talking about doing it with players who like to go at it Nadal style... a guy like that won't suddenly start striking winners because you're sending it to him; he'll need length, but that's what the big hitter is good at, not what the heavy topspin player is good at.
Going for more conservative targets has similar effects: it turns the play into a much more linear game and provided the right conditions and execution, it can be effective.
absolutely agree. I actually have quite a few of them - but truth to be told they are all almost identical. The pattern is exactly as you say (I highlighted your quote). I just thought that Nadal vs. Bolelli chart is quite interesting since despite Nadal being vastly better, he still plays rather safe. Surely it is not due to his opponent forcing him into anything - Nadal just plays smart, winning tennis.
Okay, so, basically, I'm getting that instead of aiming super deep, players should aim a little shorter and go for more angle on the shot. Sounds reasonable to me. I can see how it would make things tougher on the opponent.
However, wouldn't going for more angle cancel out the margin that you gained from aiming shorter? I feel like this strategy will lead to me hitting wide quite a bit.
Very good points and questions here, but I'm not talking about going wider than you
are confident with, or pushing hard on the sideline. The targets are just guides.
Are the Smart Targets wider than you are used to hitting when you pick a side to hit to?
Also if you think about it,
you can see how getting in the habit of a shorter ball travel will help you greatly in
avoiding hitting wide. If you don't get that right off, just think about it and how a shorter
shot is less likely to travel far enough to go wide. This makes more of your groundstrokes
measured very similar in length. These shots will travel much more like your dipping passing shots as well.
It also helps with your mid court attacks, because you will already be grooved to work
with the shorter court you have for these. One of the problems for players who hit real deep
is trying to keep it shorter on these mid ct attacks, but you can see how this will help.
What I'm saying here is generally you want to hit to the triangle away from your opponent,
which puts him on the move. If he is in the middle of both, then he has to be concerned about
both Smart Targets and you get to choose where you want to take it based on what has worked.
Yes, and thats why I said you listed good exceptions!
But I just mention, that just like MMA or wrestling, there is always a counter action,
especially if you decide to allow your opponent to play from the middle of the court,
so you better be ready for them to try to use it if you are going to give it.
I'd say that in general, if you can hit strong enough to the middle to stop me
from using the middle to control play, then you can probably do pretty much
want anyway. Not always true, but usually I expect.
I agree with your entire post as well! Very well stated.
I think Nadal likes the safety of hitting shorter and the points I made a couple
post back about how the shorter, strong rally shots tend to work more like passing shots,
angle shots and Mid court attack shots. The shorter length of shot will be very grooved and
on tap when you need it. For Good players, it's always easier to add a little juice and knock
it a little deeper if needed.
IMO, hitting a powerful, shorter ball may take more skill.
i find myself being able to go DTL more because im no longer aiming for a dime sized target in the corner; this has opened up my game greatly.
I'm really happy to see how this topic has helped your game!
I figured I should ck on Errani since her starting to play so well would likely show her
working these targets extremely well.
Here is a nice clip showing it at work.
1st point is perfect, showing Errani hititng to Smart Targets and getting replies from
Sam to the Avoid zone near the center T.
The rest of the points follow this pretty closely with Sam trying to get out deeper and wider,
but going too far with it an missing some.
It forces Sam back to the Avoid Area where Errani contines to hit on the shot lines of the
Smart Targets and wins game- love.
What you can see with both players that they hit their forehands shorter and nearer to the sidelines.
Nadal really can hook it short cross. It is not only the safer shot is it also the better shot in most situation :
cross passing shot the shorter the better
pulling the opponent out wide the shorter the better
It is also a good illustration of the interplay of technique and tactic. Nadal can go shorter and wider with his forehand because he can generate more spin easier than on his backhand.
I believe a diagramm of the missed shots would be even more interesting.
2 man drills
2 player drills allow you to get some very good practice drills in, while
still having a nice hit with your friend.
A normal example probably explains why the rally shot is most of our best shot.
we go out and rally with each other from the BL and both of get to work on
aggressive rally shots and responding to aggressive rally shots.
Great 2 person drill that helps you rally better and everyone does it some.
But to drill on something more tactical and less obvious-
1st one is I/O attack to the Bh against a player defending against this attack.
The attacker should work on strong I/O Fhs to the deeper part of the Smart Target when
being aggressive off a deep ball, And work on going I/O to the shorter part of the target when
getting a shorter ball to attack...using a greater angle.
While the attacker is doing his thing, the defender can work on defending that Bh corner
with crosscourt rtns. Using higher soft slices crosscourt to gain recovery time
when facing a tough shot, along with some more aggressive, low slices to turn defense
to a bit of offense when they can pull it off. Defender can get a good idea of what type
of rtns get punished and which ones tend to work better.
After 20-30 shots, you can switch who is attacking and who is defending
so that both get work on this very common aggressive tactic. Should help the
attacker improve on using this tactic to hurt opponents, while helping the
defender to improve their defense against effective assault.
Nice that both are getting good work, opposed to one having to be a feeder.
Another important drill for 2 out for a hit
Serve and return plus 2
On this one the server looks to work his very aggressive 2ond serves.
He should make 80%+ and be working lots of spin to different sections
of the svc box.
The returner should be working on different styles of returning....attacking,
the plus 2
plus 2 relates to the server and returner hitting one more shot on this exchange
server is looking to likely hit a Fh and take control of the point after the 2ond serve
the returner is looking to defend or turn things to offense after dealing with a serve
and a aggressive GS.
Hit 4-7 second serves then switch over and work the other side of the drill.
repeat the process a few times.
This is exactly what I experienced when applying the smart target strategy...and to be honest, there have been many times where I should have gone down the line but just was not comfortable doing it...now, I let 'er rip!
This is a very good read. I only just bumped into it. Thanks for sharing.
Today I want to add the lob / Overhead 2 man drill
The one who will start with working overheads will give a feed to his partner.
This can be an easy or challenging feed based on how you want to practice, but
the receiver will execute a lob from this feed and the feeder will try to smash.
When the overhead is smashed, the lobber will try to defend the smash by
hitting his return to the Smart Target away from the Smasher.
A point is awarded to the player if his smash is too good to defend well or
a point for the lobber if he can defend the smash smartly to the right Smart Target.
Play 5, then switch roles.
Keep score or not...it's up to what you want to do.
This is a great drill for a few items that are rarely practiced.
Amazing what players will learn in this one about smashing and lobbing,
along with defending the smash.
I used it with a player who made top 5 in the Nation and he still likes it!
Here is a post on "Earning you Best Play" from another thread.
One of the aspects of Earning it is using the Smart Targets imo.
Originally Posted by 5263
I'm big on the idea of having the attitude of earning good play...meaning-
That I try not to go on the court expecting to play well, but I think that if I
focus on the things (like hustle, position, eye on the ball, good prep) that
help me play solid, that I can work that solid play into very good play.
It's the idea of having to work up to good or better play and I call it
"Earning It". Earning my best play by working up to it each time I hit the
comment by another poster^ "high quality post that."
and another one...
"Once again, 5263 nails it...hustle, position, eye-on-the ball. You know, I have learned ALOT from many great players who post here...and last night I expected to play well. However, I played terrible. Why? No hustle, my positioning could have been better, and even though I knew better, there were times that I didn't keep my eye on the ball!!! From now on, I will "earn my best play". I will work up to it. Great post 5263."
A quick question regarding smarter targets: If a player (me, in this instance) hits with a traditional forehand and a modern two-handed backhand, what adjustments regarding the smarter targets, if any, should be made on the forehand side?
The Smart Targets are big enough to handle variety and any personal limitations.
Find what parts of the triangles work best for your shots.
I expect the cross court target will be much easier to go to for you, but that
is generally the case. Your shots may tend a little deeper if your net clearance is
very good, but remember, the targets are guidelines around an idea.
Generally that Idea is to hit to the area away from your opponent with a good
margin of error. Be careful about hitting dtl even when away from them though as that
helps them hit away from you, and Remember it is pace and line of shot that determines most winners.
It's ok to hit a little deeper as long as you don't get caught up on pushing too hard for depth.
Also you may need to focus on the interior point of the triangle for greater margin on your Fh.
Very good question!
Thanks very much for your response! The next time I'm hitting with the ball machine, I will put out cones and see how the targeting works, in light of your suggestions and parameters. Then, hopefully, after some good practice sessions, I'll able to utilize the smarter targets effectively in a match setting.
It works great.
If you are a 3.0-3.5 player like me, prepare to feel that you are hitting much sharper angles than you are used to. I have been trying this with the ball machine and it is a very helpful exercise. It quickly made me aware that I tend to hit thru the middle of the court much too often.
After just about a half dozen sessions with the cones I already feel more comfortable hitting to the triangles. I usually take some pace off and eventually will work on getting more power to these locations. It is a great illustration that placement is more important than hitting hard.
5263, gonna try the lob/smash drill..quick question: do you start at/around the service line or around the baseline? I would think somewhat close to the net, depending on skill level.
That's great to hear, and way to go!
Just back from a cruise, Thanks for the good question!
Do both. Start from working deep so you do better and get less tired, but then as you get better, mix in some feeds from net area so he can lob you while at net.
Give him the option of hitting a soft passing shot on you if you cheat and leave too early, lol!
I'm practicing taking advantage of balls landing the avoid square using inside out or inside in fh. I'm finding I can reliably hit the deep targets but am missing wide when trying for the shorter ones. I can hit the inside in shot to the short target a bit more reliably. When watching federers vids it seems like he goes for the short targets on his inside out fh only when he's in the doubles alley!
I want to be able to keep my opponent honest by going in and out with the fh so I'm using a neutral fh stance which allows me to hit both sides. I can hook the inside in fh a bit more reliably to get that short target. I tried an open stance fh and didn't like the timing and also felt it had less disguise.
Any opinions or advice.
Looking good here! This is a big part of working on this....finding out what target works for you
and what does not.
Later on as your game grows, you will find different things work for you as well.
As for stance... if you use a neutral stance for the inside in, then you have a nice open stance for the inside out....so there is your disguise...right?
As a developing 3.5 player, make sure you keep working the deeper part of the targets,
so you continue to develop and hit stronger.
Hitting with some solid pace is an important aspect in using Smarter Targets unless you
are using the low skidding slice.
Probably not so good if you are having to ease up to get to the Targets. Using
more spin would be preferred.
i tell my peers that they can hit just as hard, if not harder, just aim shallower and more towards the middle and a lot more of their shots will go in. they look at me like im on crack.
I like most of what you are saying here, but what do you mean by "more towards the middle"?
Are you talking about depth wise?
This I have to try! No more thinking.. just hit the triangles! Any smart targets for doubles play?
Long to long, short to short.
Pretty much the same targets for dubs, but now the Avoid Area becomes a 3rd target,
as it between them and maybe the best target in dubs.
For a general reference I use the 3 Ts.
You have the center one and the 2 side Ts.
Use them for line of shot more than actually hitting them;
sometimes hitting just past them, sometimes short of them or
even shading to one side or another of one of them.
Use them only as a references,
but excellent references!
Your suggestion above it great standard advice used in conjunction with the
3Ts, especially working the long to long aspect.
For instance, if going cross court, deep to deep, then
you can use the center T by shading it to the side away from the net player and
slightly deeper than the center T.
Or use the side T by shading it towards the center and slightly deeper than that
Or use the side T going short to short by taking a poach to the side T...shading it
to the outside of the court and shorter in depth.
Just a few examples.
Well.... a little thinking, as it makes a difference which triangle you pick for each shot.
another 2 man drill
drill for hitting around and working the dtl Fh and I/O Bh
Dtl Fh hitter will give a feed to the area on the Bh side of the center hash
so the Bh hitter can take it I/O a bit, then the Feeder can take this I/O Bh
dtl. The Bh hitter can take this dtl one more time if you like before starting
over with another feed to center Bh side (near the Avoid Area) given from the Fh side.
This is better than just standing and hitting dtls because it starts with that I/O Bh
which can be a defining shot for players. I like getting some special reps in for that
shot in a drill.
Looks like Sharapova's rise in rankings and game are going much like I discussed on here last yr..
.with her working much better for position on the ball and making
more shots like we talk about in this thread.
Yes she still hits with excellent power and a little too much depth, but
all the commentators are talking about how much she has improved her movement and
footwork during this come back.
I couldn't help but think about someone who on here was arguing aggressively that movement was
never going to be good for her and that she had to focus on just hitting deeper,
harder and more outright winners.
I felt she was still young and athletic enough to work on moving better and making more shots. Seems it worked well enough to bring her right back up
I don't see anyone being great in this game from here out, without the ability to
move well and focusing on shots they can make a high % of the time.
Slice volley drill
One partner works on slicing flat and pretty close to net, while
the hitting partner works on his volley technique and placement
back to the slicer. This drill should keep quite a long rally alive
due to the control of each of these shots. Each player should move
the ball back and forth to the other side of the other hitting partner.
After a few reps switch positions and let the other player do the
I like pairing these 2 shots together because the help to prepare for
each other since the volley and slice are so much alike.
Played a few games yesterday, trying to practice implementing the smart targets. Had great success initially, then my friend picked up on it and started cheating towards his crosscourt side, particularly on forehands. Since i was treating it as practice, I didn't hit DTL to keep him honest. I noticed that he would cut off the angled forehand and kill me with the DTL shot. Did that perhaps 5 times, and I thought I was pretty well placed, slightly right of the center line. Which made me think- if the angle draws him out, should I also be cheating to the left, and leave him the extreme crosscourt angle?
I'm looking forward to drilling and applying this to singles as soon as I can. Being able to hit angles as well as hitting down the center too much has always been a thorn in my side.
I would be very interested in seeing this applied towards doubles. Unfortunately, the graphics that the OP posts don't show up for me on this thread, so I can't see the 'avoid zone' areas and I'm having difficulty visualizing this as applied for doubles.
Can someone post a graphic of the target areas for doubles?
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