Reading An Opponents Shot And Direction

I Would Like To Get Some Tips On Reading An Opponents Shot And Where He Is Going With It. I Have Heard Watch The Leading Shoulder To See Where It Is Pointed To And Then I Have Heard That You Watch The Ball Come Off The Racquet. Any Tecniques That You Have Would Be Great.
 

GAZ082

Rookie
Dude, what's the deal with your writing?

Anyway, watching the ball comming off the strings is a no brainer, when are you supposed to do it?

What's the leading shoulder?
 

GAZ082

Rookie
I don't think you can read one's leading shoulder in an open stance position, because it has none! (AFAIK)
 

dakels

Rookie
I wish I had the time to answer this properly but I will summarize a few key points.

Overall, this subject is HUGE. This, imo is one of the more complex yet least understood by developing players. It involves key points such as court position, opponent play style, opponent mechanics, aiming elements of the swing such as hips and shoulders, and lead arm/shoulder, and also ball mechanics, and even your shot mechanics.

Court position I think is obvious. Lots could be said though but I wont go into it.

Play style is important to understand. You will notice some players love to hit certain shots on certain situations. This has to be taken into effect. Someone loves the inside out forehand... then you have to watch for it. It will lead into another area of what you hit as well.

Opponent mechanics is also important. Shots they favor and their movement, general swing style like westerners don't like low balls, etc, continental's contact point is farther back in their body possibly leading to disguised inside out shots, etc.

Big factor is of course body aiming mechanics. Many players will aim with their lead shoulder. This has to be taken in consideration with their swing style and body mechanics. Someone who hits mostly open stance will have different shoulder aiming then a even - closed stance hitter.

Some more interesting things, ball mechanics... as in like what the ball is doing. This coincides with your shot making and even court properties. Is the shot going to kick up with high spin on clay? This may limit their shot making abilities and angles. Low and fast on a westerner? They will probably have to get really low and have a hard time going cross court if late.

All of these things add up to a sum of its parts. You may expect this person who is clearly aiming DTL with his closed stance to take the ball early or over rotate their hips, or even their wrist and flick it cross court on you. Maybe your opponent is very inconsistent and hits late a lot hitting inside out. Maybe they have slow footwork and hitting at them jams them making it inside out.

There are big key elements that can be dead givaways.

Footwork - a closed leading foot makes it generally difficult to hit a cross court shot. If you see a person open his foot a lot on the last step, this will give them a lot more freedom to turn.

Hips - Next come the hips which again control how much rotation a person will be capable of. Someone with very closed hips on setup is going to have a hard time going severe cross court.

Shoulders - Lead shoulder aims a shot.

Again even these big givaways are very much subject to understand what the normal baseline style is from your opponent. Someone who is very open stance western will set up very different from a closed stance and easterner.

Overall though the biggest aspect is paying attention to your opponent with your peripheral vision. As you watch the ball, you should be taking in the movement of your opponent as they strike it. Even watching their follow through with your peripheral vision as you track the ball. Seeing a follow through will help you understand what type of ball you are about to encounter. Slice, spin, how much spin, etc. The better you pay attention to your opponent, the better you will be able to predict their shots.

When you put all these things together, you realize how incredibly complicated it can be to process all this information in a split second. Then you truly marvel at the player like Frabrice Santoro who has such an incredible comprehension of this and able to process it under the fastest of conditions.
 

ericwong

Rookie
Agreed with PP, such skill is acquired and not learn through books. It takes a lot of match play to understand the general movement and intention of the opponent.
 

Tennisman912

Semi-Pro
persistant,

I recommend watching the racquet face of your opponent. But as the others have said, it comes with experience above all. When you get enough experience you will know where the ball is going, sometimes before they do. Then you can use it against them. It just takes lots of court time and paying attention( which few do in practice).

Good luck

TM
 

35ft6

Legend
It's not just about reading shots but realizing that unless you're playing Djokovic, your opponent is probably very limited as to where he can hit any given ball. I'm 40 pounds over my playing weight but I can still get to most balls simply because I don't stand there believing my opponents can hit the ball anywhere. I cheat to a certain side and if they go for a winner to a spot I'm not worried about, they miss 90% of the time anyway. Haven't totally analyzed it, but I think I simply cheat that they're going to hit crosscourt most of the time.
 

Solat

Professional
It's not just about reading shots but realizing that unless you're playing Djokovic, your opponent is probably very limited as to where he can hit any given ball. I'm 40 pounds over my playing weight but I can still get to most balls simply because I don't stand there believing my opponents can hit the ball anywhere. I cheat to a certain side and if they go for a winner to a spot I'm not worried about, they miss 90% of the time anyway. Haven't totally analyzed it, but I think I simply cheat that they're going to hit crosscourt most of the time.
this pretty much sums up the theory in that its not about picking up the ball as your opponent hits it (although i would never dismiss this skill if you have it) it is more about putting yourself where you would most expect their next shot to go, put yourself in the best position to cover the territory that you should be covering.

you could indeed actually turn it right on it's head and ask the question "how do i influence my opponent to hit the ball where i want it" for that would truly be the best tactic, have them play tennis by your design not you reacting to theirs
 

mel56

New User
persistant,

I recommend watching the racquet face of your opponent. But as the others have said, it comes with experience above all. When you get enough experience you will know where the ball is going, sometimes before they do. Then you can use it against them. It just takes lots of court time and paying attention( which few do in practice).

Good luck

TM
I agree with you about watching the racket face. In the past before the SW grip, windshield wiper follow-through, and high velocity racket head speed, it was fairly easy to tell where a player was going to hit the ball just by watching the path of the racket head prior to contact and after contact. If a player has more traditional strokes you can still read them pretty easy. The tricky part when trying to do this is that you have to briefly take you eye off the ball and watch their racket head.
 
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