What is your main singles strategy?

r2473

G.O.A.T.
What is / are your "go to" singles strategies? How do you tend to construct points? Give both your serve and return strategies.

Yes, I know it "depends on the opponent". But most of us rec players tend to have a "go to" strategy. But if you want, go ahead and give your various strategies against the various playing styles of your different opponents.
 

r2473

G.O.A.T.
I tend to play an "arc ball" or even a "loop" strategy.

1. High, rolling forehand and backhand; plenty of margin on all sides (net clearance, baseline and sideline)

2. I use power very sparingly.

3. I mix in slice

4. I look for the shorter ball and close to the net. I'll try hitting my approach shot as more of an arc ball first to give myself more margin and cut down on errors on my offensive plays. If this doesn't work (I'm giving my opponent too much time and getting passed), I'll start to hit more "drive" approach shots. A bit riskier, but they will exit the court faster. I still don't swing too hard. I just change the trajectory.

Advantages:

a. Cuts down on unforced errors
b. Increases the time I have to recover my court position after I hit my shot
c. Gives my opponent no pace to work with
d. Keeps my opponent deep in the court
e. My opponent has to take the ball in an uncomfortable zone. Hopefully above the shoulder on the arc and loop ball. But the slice keeps them from getting too comfortable with this type of ball.

I do try to win easy / free points with my first serve. Pace and aggressive placement. Sometimes, I'll even hit aggressive second serves (I'd use this against opponents that seem to have the advantage in baseline rallying over me).

But I'm also content to just "roll" in my serve and rely on my main strategy above if being aggressive doesn't make sense for this particular opponent. Or if I'm having a bad serve day.
 
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movdqa

Talk Tennis Guru
Various approaches in order of preference (highest to lowest)

- Play the same style as my opponent. Not always possible. A lot of people don't like to play against their own style, particularly pushers.
- Rally from the baseline, be patient, look for openings to put the ball away or to come into the net. There's a term that I've seen Chess Grandmasters and International Masters use and it's "I'm just going to play solid chess". And this is similar in tennis. You can play risky games, risky openings, try sharp attacks, etc. where there's more risk and more reward; or you can use a fairly conservative approach where you're more likely to prevail if you're the better player.
- Serve and volley. Usually done sparingly unless the other player falls apart against it.
 

Nostradamus

Bionic Poster
What is / are your "go to" singles strategies? How do you tend to construct points? Give both your serve and return strategies.

Yes, I know it "depends on the opponent". But most of us rec players tend to have a "go to" strategy. But if you want, go ahead and give your various strategies against the various playing styles of your different opponents.
I like drop shotting old guys. and I love seeing them run
 

ptuanminh

Hall of Fame
I only know one strategy: everything goes to backhand. when i get comfie, i mix in with some DTL. If that doesn't work, i lose.
 

FiReFTW

Legend
Serve Deuce
60% wide
30% down the T
10% body

Serve AD
40% wide
50% down the T
10% body

Vary the pace, spin and location (more angle, more deep and drive etc)

Mix in serve and volley

2nd serve
Hit up alot, swing fast, hit with alot of spin, try to hit kick (sometimes it works sometimes less), and don't place it anywhere just try to get it in since my 2nd serve is not that good yet


Get ready for a short ball after ur serve and attack the open court, if return is deep try to get into the rally and try to start dictating the point.


Return
Hit wide serves cross court
Hit down the T serves middle or down the line
Try to hit returns deep
When 2nd serve (if easy) or whenever an easy serve that you can setup well and have time, hit to open court and attack the open court and get him running

Point play
Try to open up the court, get the opponent off court, hit angles and attack the open court when you open the court up
Don't attack deep heavy balls
When you get a shorter ball that you are comfortable with, attack and hit aggressively
Move forward whenever the oportunity arises and attack the net
Dictate points, have the points on your racquet and win or lose points on your terms
If someone has a weak shot like backhand try to exploit it and hit to it as much as possible
If you notice someone is slow hit dropshots, if someone is bad at net hit short slices get him in.. basically find things they struggle with then exploit them
Play with variety, vary spin, height, hit slices to change the pace, hit dropshots when good opportunity for them
 

weelie

Semi-Pro
-Hit 75% to the backhand. High with topspin.
-Serve wide and hit the return to an open corner.
-Get all the returns in
-Alternate slow, slow... fast
-hit a dropper and follow with a passing shot
-if my strategy worked, I think of repeating until I think it does not work anymore.
 

navigator

Hall of Fame
- Focus on placement and consistency (as opposed to power and spin); in baseline exchanges, any ball that my opponent can't consistently attack is a good shot
- Follow the directionals; aim for large targets; the only mortal sin is hitting the ball in the net
- Try to lengthen the rally before approaching the net; in the first several shots, I only approach if it's an outright invitation; afterward, I take the short ball down the line (default), or if my opponent has an obviously weaker side, go there
- Aim for a high first serve percentage, even if it means taking pace off; any serve that my opponent can't consistently attack is a good one
- Mix in S&V only when I'm ahead in the game, or well ahead in the overall score
- Don't miss returns - just block them back deep in the court; if opponent S&Vs just block it back low
- I never try to hit a winner - I just want to increase my opponent's inconvenience, make things difficult, and if a winner results (which isn't often), great

Tennis below the low-5.0 level is mostly a "loser's game" (unless there's a large difference in level); that is, one of the two players loses the match, the other guy doesn't impose his will and take it from him (also applies to doubles, but a bit less so). A large majority of the rec world is in denial about this.
 

r2473

G.O.A.T.
- Focus on placement and consistency (as opposed to power and spin); in baseline exchanges, any ball that my opponent can't consistently attack is a good shot
- Follow the directionals; aim for large targets; the only mortal sin is hitting the ball in the net
- Try to lengthen the rally before approaching the net; in the first several shots, I only approach if it's an outright invitation; afterward, I take the short ball down the line (default), or if my opponent has an obviously weaker side, go there
- Aim for a high first serve percentage, even if it means taking pace off; any serve that my opponent can't consistently attack is a good one
- Mix in S&V only when I'm ahead in the game, or well ahead in the overall score
- Don't miss returns - just block them back deep in the court; if opponent S&Vs just block it back low
- I never try to hit a winner - I just want to increase my opponent's inconvenience, make things difficult, and if a winner results (which isn't often), great

Tennis below the low-5.0 level is mostly a "loser's game" (unless there's a large difference in level); that is, one of the two players loses the match, the other guy doesn't impose his will and take it from him (also applies to doubles, but a bit less so). A large majority of the rec world is in denial about this.
Just what I was looking for, thanks. I copy / pasted this into my tennis notes.
 
D

Deleted member 23235

Guest
What is / are your "go to" singles strategies? How do you tend to construct points? Give both your serve and return strategies.

Yes, I know it "depends on the opponent". But most of us rec players tend to have a "go to" strategy. But if you want, go ahead and give your various strategies against the various playing styles of your different opponents.
goto, is

bh-bh rally, wait for short ball, run around bh, approach, finish with volley/oh. typically hit to bh on groundies/serve 75%
if their bh is better, i'll play them like a lefty.
if their groundies are better, i'll s&v and c&c
if their passing game is better, i'll dink (draw them in) & lob/pass

if they still win, i'll thank them for the lesson, and try to book my next lesson with them asap.
 

MisterP

Hall of Fame
Serve strat is to hit lots of different spots with different spins to keep them guessing. Out wide to open the court. Tee serve to get an opportunity to S&V. Body serve looking for a weak return to exploit.

Return is similar. Neutralize with dirty low slice or deep floaty balls if they have a big serve. Whip an angle, rip a DTL or give them a dirty dropper if they have a lollipop serve.

If we get into a rally I am usually looking to keep points short. Not interested in grinding. After 4 or 5 balls I’m looking for something big, whether it’s power, touch or angle. This could change if I play against someone who hits more errors than me from the baseline.

So I guess my overall strat is to keep them off balance with lots of mixups. I get the “not many rallies with you” comments a lot from my opponents. I try to take it as a compliment.
 

user92626

Legend
OP,

"2. I use power very sparingly."

But it still has to have enough power that your opponents can't tee off the ball, right?





So many of you guys said you can get away with lower power and only focus on placement, consistent, depth, etc. You guys must be really good (that you could make those skilled shots) and powerful enough, which you're not even aware of generating, that those shots cannot be attacked. No?



I notice (and I openly pointed out to my opponent) that whenever I give him a short ball or a ball that he has time to set up to swing, I will be a world of troubles. He would dictate the control and win 90% of time! So aside from our usual UEs (which is about equal and awash), both of us play the game of rushing, ie power, outhit/outrun the other.

So I have no idea how you guys can play a nonpower focused game like you guys suggest?
 
- S&V; see if they can handle the pressure
- C&C; see above note about pressure
- If their ground game is better than my net game, become more selective about when to come in
- Start probing for weaknesses [maybe my approach shots are just the kind they like to hit passers from; maybe other types of spin/depth/height will cause them problems]
- Don't go for winners [unless volleying]
- Play high % [ie Wardlaw]
- Remember this is supposed to be fun
 
- Focus on placement and consistency (as opposed to power and spin); in baseline exchanges, any ball that my opponent can't consistently attack is a good shot
- Follow the directionals; aim for large targets; the only mortal sin is hitting the ball in the net
- Try to lengthen the rally before approaching the net; in the first several shots, I only approach if it's an outright invitation; afterward, I take the short ball down the line (default), or if my opponent has an obviously weaker side, go there
- Aim for a high first serve percentage, even if it means taking pace off; any serve that my opponent can't consistently attack is a good one
- Mix in S&V only when I'm ahead in the game, or well ahead in the overall score
- Don't miss returns - just block them back deep in the court; if opponent S&Vs just block it back low
- I never try to hit a winner - I just want to increase my opponent's inconvenience, make things difficult, and if a winner results (which isn't often), great

Tennis below the low-5.0 level is mostly a "loser's game" (unless there's a large difference in level); that is, one of the two players loses the match, the other guy doesn't impose his will and take it from him (also applies to doubles, but a bit less so). A large majority of the rec world is in denial about this.
Bingo. 90% of players of all levels would see better results in competition by following these guidelines.
 
OP,

"2. I use power very sparingly."

But it still has to have enough power that your opponents can't tee off the ball, right?

So many of you guys said you can get away with lower power and only focus on placement, consistent, depth, etc. You guys must be really good (that you could make those skilled shots) and powerful enough, which you're not even aware of generating, that those shots cannot be attacked. No?
Not necessarily: what if the opponent can't handle low-paced shots and ends up over-hitting?

I notice (and I openly pointed out to my opponent) that whenever I give him a short ball or a ball that he has time to set up to swing, I will be a world of troubles. He would dictate the control and win 90% of time! So aside from our usual UEs (which is about equal and awash), both of us play the game of rushing, ie power, outhit/outrun the other.

So I have no idea how you guys can play a nonpower focused game like you guys suggest?
You're equating lack of power with short; they aren't necessarily equal. I could hit the ball deep without exerting a lot of power and that shot is not easily attacked.

I'm not known for a lot of power either; when I try to win with power, more often than not I make a ton of UEs. It's something I need to develop, though, to make it to the next level.
 

HunterST

Hall of Fame
To be honest, singles never feels like a very strategic game to me. It's more like a battle of skills.

Here are some general things:
I try to hit strong serves.
I hit cross court unless it's a weak enough ball to attack.
I try to hit returns back deep.
If a ball is short, I'll approach DTL.

Again, I don't think singles is much of a game of strategy. There are just solid fundamentals and then who can execute them the best.
 

user92626

Legend
Not necessarily: what if the opponent can't handle low-paced shots and ends up over-hitting?



You're equating lack of power with short; they aren't necessarily equal. I could hit the ball deep without exerting a lot of power and that shot is not easily attacked.

I'm not known for a lot of power either; when I try to win with power, more often than not I make a ton of UEs. It's something I need to develop, though, to make it to the next level.
OK, but my opponent can attack or at least spin the low-paced shots from me. Likewise, I can do the same. Why would those shots be hard or unattackable when they were the stuff that I played from day one, with newbies, old men, etc.?

Re deep ball, like I said if he or I can run down the ball, ie not sufficient pace to outpace us, we can return it back. Even with a deep ball, he just take a massive topspin swing at it, place it well inside but it's pacey and with some angle it will be difficult for me to return.

I really can't play old men's tennis and just soft-cannon the ball deep and expect to win. I need to outpace him --how do you suggest I do that without power, and with just the stuff you guys line out above?
 
I notice (and I openly pointed out to my opponent) that whenever I give him a short ball or a ball that he has time to set up to swing, I will be a world of troubles. He would dictate the control and win 90% of time! So aside from our usual UEs (which is about equal and awash), both of us play the game of rushing, ie power, outhit/outrun the other.

So I have no idea how you guys can play a nonpower focused game like you guys suggest?
There are many ways to hit a ball that is unattackable. A key to winning is being able to hit unattackable balls without having to take any risk on your own shots. Power can be useful, but using power always requires substantial risk. There are other ways to hit an unattckable ball with less risk. You just need to figure out which type of balls will neutralize a particular opponent. Some opponents feast on high balls, but can't hurt you when you give them low slicey stuff below net level. Other opponents get frustrated with high loopy balls. Some players hate spinny junk. Some players freak out when you feed them a moonball and charge the net behind it. Some play like a spazz when you draw them to the net and force them to volley. Some return great when you stay back, but panic when you serve-and-volley. Some like a target at net, but get frustrated generating offense against retrievers.
 
OK, but my opponent can attack or at least spin the low-paced shots from me. Likewise, I can do the same. Why would those shots be hard or unattackable when they were the stuff that I played from day one, with newbies, old men, etc.?

Re deep ball, like I said if he or I can run down the ball, ie not sufficient pace to outpace us, we can return it back. Even with a deep ball, he just take a massive topspin swing at it, place it well inside but it's pacey and with some angle it will be difficult for me to return.

I really can't play old men's tennis and just soft-cannon the ball deep and expect to win. I need to outpace him --how do you suggest I do that without power, and with just the stuff you guys line out above?
If my opponent is better than I am, especially GSs, then a soft ball deep probably isn't enough. But against a peer, it might be: they might overhit. Or they might accidentally hit a short ball that I can attack. You're assuming he will perfectly respond every time.
 
N

Nashvegas

Guest
S&V relentlessly, and look for opportunities to come in when returning.

If my baseline game is on, I’ll back off the net game a bit to keep the opponent off balance.

I’ll go after a few second serves but mostly try to get the ball in play with depth and work it to the backhand. Two to the backhand, one to the forehand is my typical pattern. By that point I’m on the net.
 

BlueB

Legend
First and foremost, serve well, return well.
Play the basic topspin strokes within myself, hit to oponents backand when possible, approach after a good FHDL.
Junk ball a bit to disturb their rhythm.

Sent from my SM-G965W using Tapatalk
 
- Focus on placement and consistency (as opposed to power and spin); in baseline exchanges, any ball that my opponent can't consistently attack is a good shot
- Follow the directionals; aim for large targets; the only mortal sin is hitting the ball in the net
- Try to lengthen the rally before approaching the net; in the first several shots, I only approach if it's an outright invitation; afterward, I take the short ball down the line (default), or if my opponent has an obviously weaker side, go there
- Aim for a high first serve percentage, even if it means taking pace off; any serve that my opponent can't consistently attack is a good one
- Mix in S&V only when I'm ahead in the game, or well ahead in the overall score
- Don't miss returns - just block them back deep in the court; if opponent S&Vs just block it back low
- I never try to hit a winner - I just want to increase my opponent's inconvenience, make things difficult, and if a winner results (which isn't often), great

Tennis below the low-5.0 level is mostly a "loser's game" (unless there's a large difference in level); that is, one of the two players loses the match, the other guy doesn't impose his will and take it from him (also applies to doubles, but a bit less so). A large majority of the rec world is in denial about this.
This is why this guy wins a lot.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
 

IowaGuy

Hall of Fame
Try to lengthen the rally before approaching the net; in the first several shots, I only approach if it's an outright invitation; afterward, I take the short ball down the line (default), or if my opponent has an obviously weaker side, go there
@navigator - what is your strategy with this tip? Are you:
1.) trying to give opponent more time to commit UE?
2.) forcing yourself to be patient? (i.e. the basketball coach that won't let anyone shoot until 5 passes)
3.) trying to make rallies longer because you feel that you have more stamina than your opponent? (meta-strategy)
4) something else?

In general, I try to approach the net anytime I get an attackable ball that bounces near the service line, I don't think too much about where it occurs in the rally (for me, most often occurs just after serve or return of serve). The longer that I wait in a rally (against good opposition), the more likely I am to get attacked by my opponent...
 
This is such an interesting thread to read as some of these are strategies I wouldn’t think to use. Intentionally junk balling is something that blows my mind and honestly I don’t think would get anyone to a high level.

For me it’s really only a few things.
-Variety on first serves, flat, slice, heavy movement on slice
-Super heavy kick serves for second serves, I pride myself on my kick serve
-Hit as many forehands as possible, and with that all of them at least halfway between the service line and baseline or deeper
-Dictate play and force errors with the forehand
-Rally two handers, don’t go for winners unless it’s an exceptionally easy ball
-Mix in a lot of slices to slow down opponents pace and change the rhythm of the point
-Attack any short ball I get and close the net to end points quick

I’m not the fastest guy so I need to place well and take advantage of any attackable ball I get.
 
Another thing to keep in mind. Baiting your opponent to attack can be a winning strategy - this is especially true today with many players now playing with spin-friendly good-snapback poly-type stringbeds that are absolutely awful for volleying, unlike in the olden days when everyone used stringbeds that were less spinny but much better for volleying with precision.
The "hit-topspin-approach-to -corner-and-follow-to-the-net" strategy may actually favor the passer in many matchups, in which case whoever 'attacks last' most often is most likely to win.
 

user92626

Legend
If my opponent is better than I am, especially GSs, then a soft ball deep probably isn't enough. But against a peer, it might be: they might overhit. Or they might accidentally hit a short ball that I can attack. You're assuming he will perfectly respond every time.
He's not perfect and neither am I. So, that part is equal and moot to discuss.

We're talking about the things that have the winning percentage.

Are YOU troubled by soft deep balls? Do you tend to overhit?

Not me. I'm not troubled by any balls placed anywhere as long as I can get to them!!!!

I am troubled by shots that I cannot reach, even only a couple steps away. Hence, I am confused when people talk about depth alone or consistency alone. Eh, nobody is more consistent and crafty than experienced old geezers. They destroy each other old geezers by that, but they pose no troubles for me, no matter how consistency and crafty their shots are, absent to power.
 
He's not perfect and neither am I. So, that part is equal and moot to discuss.
People can be imperfect in many ways. Maybe his imperfections are different from yours. Maybe he has difficulty with certain shots that you do not and vice versa.

We're talking about the things that have the winning percentage.

Are YOU troubled by soft deep balls? Do you tend to overhit?
I'd be lying if I said I never overhit. And if I do overhit, it is more likely against a no-pace ball than a heavy one.

Not me. I'm not troubled by any balls placed anywhere as long as I can get to them!!!!
I can be troubled: even if it's hit directly to me, my footwork could be lazy, my rotation could be sub-standard; many things could go wrong.

Maybe I'm just better at making errors than you are!
 

user92626

Legend
I'd be lying if I said I never overhit. And if I do overhit, it is more likely against a no-pace ball than a heavy one.



I can be troubled: even if it's hit directly to me, my footwork could be lazy, my rotation could be sub-standard; many things could go wrong.

Maybe I'm just better at making errors than you are!

I'm not talking about perfection or never. I am talking about percentage that brings you a win or a loss. Even Federer overhits "many times" but it's understood that he owns the short, non aggressive ball.




Anyway, back to the topic. IMO, its really NOT STRATEGIES when we talk about consistency, placement, power or directional laws. Those are just necessary basics to play tennis. You have more, you're a 5.0. You have less, you're a 3.0.

Strategies would be to use more drop shots, even if they are only half way familiar to you, against a fat opponent who fails to get them 90% of time.
 

rogerroger917

Hall of Fame
Tennis below 5.0 is not really tennis. It's a bunch of lame players trying to maneuver dink shots around the court and waiting for the other guy to miss. Or people over hitting and missing every 3rd ball.

Why bother. Just play video games. Or practice a lot and get to 5.0 plus. But I agree it's hard if you started tennis as an adult, probably over weight and basically have no athletic ability.

So yeah. Video games. Or pickle ball. Less running.
 

navigator

Hall of Fame
This is why this guy wins a lot.
Thanks but let's be clear... I lose a fair amount, too. But, unlike when I was a junior, since I started playing again as an adult (about 5 years ago), I have never walked off the court thinking, "No way I should've lost to that guy." I've had close matches that I could have won (but lost), but I didn't give the match away. When I lose, it's generally because the other guy beat me, so I can't really remember being particularly upset about a loss (as an adult).

Related... most rec tennis is ultimately a battle between the contrasting philosophies of Tony Robbins and Clint Eastwood. Tony Robbins says, "You can do anything you set your mind to, you gotta go for it! Believe in yourself... Blast that winner!" Clint Eastwood says, "A man's gotta know his limitations." Be a realist, don't lie to yourself, play within your game. Let the other guy implode within his delusions.
 

navigator

Hall of Fame
Why bother.
Exercise? Social outlet? Travel? I agree that the tennis isn't pretty (although it can be oddly compelling as a spectator, even at lower levels), but... I'm not sure I buy the notion that competing at some arbitrary level below that of professionals is particularly important as a reason to scurry around on a tennis court.
 

rogerroger917

Hall of Fame
Exercise? Social outlet? Travel? I agree that the tennis isn't pretty (although it can be oddly compelling as a spectator, even at lower levels), but... I'm not sure I buy the notion that competing at some arbitrary level below that of professionals is particularly important as a reason to scurry around on a tennis court.
I like watching 2.5 players more than 4.0 players.
 

navigator

Hall of Fame
@navigator - what is your strategy with this tip? Are you:
1.) trying to give opponent more time to commit UE?
2.) forcing yourself to be patient? (i.e. the basketball coach that won't let anyone shoot until 5 passes)
3.) trying to make rallies longer because you feel that you have more stamina than your opponent? (meta-strategy)
4) something else?

In general, I try to approach the net anytime I get an attackable ball that bounces near the service line, I don't think too much about where it occurs in the rally (for me, most often occurs just after serve or return of serve). The longer that I wait in a rally (against good opposition), the more likely I am to get attacked by my opponent...
Mostly, (1) and (3). If you give your opponent more time to commit an error... then he's more likely to commit an error (than if you don't give him the time). [How's about that logic!] Secondly, your opponent will be more fatigued if you force him to run for a few balls before coming to net, so you're likely to get a (slightly) weaker attempted passing shot and he's (slightly) less likely to get to your resulting volley. If your opponent is routinely attacking you successfully before you get the opportunity to do so, there's a good chance he's just better than you.
 

mcs1970

Hall of Fame
Skill is relative. I'm sure there are pros who might chuckle at the skill level of some who don't progress beyond college, even though the college player is a darn good player. What one thinks as a good workout is also relative. You might laugh at someone else while some other person is laughing at your workout and thinking how they are pushing themselves much more.
 
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