Strategy and tactics are such crucial elements of tennis. You could have better strokes, better fitness and better equipment than your opponent, but choosing the right shot to hit at the right time is more important if you want to win matches.
“Stoplight” Tennis is a simple and easy concept to help your on-court strategy and shot selection. Your court positioning should dictate what shot to hit, so keep this basic strategy in mind for your next match and you’ll surprise yourself with how many more points you win.
The three areas of the court represent the three lights on a stop light…
RED LIGHT: You’re 3+ feet behind the baseline, and most likely you’re on defense. Your goal should be to be consistent and make your opponent hit one more ball. Try to neutralize their attack and work your way back closer to the baseline.
–WHAT SHOT DO I HIT? Play the ball high over the net with good topspin. Aim cross court or through the middle of the court to give yourself margin for error. A high, heavy ball with good depth should neutralize your opponent’s attack. Don’t go for broke and DON’T MISS IN THE NET on defense!
YELLOW LIGHT: You’re within 3 feet from the baseline, and you’re in more of a neutral position. Your goal is to gain control of the rally and get your opponent moving, but you don’t need to hit the ball as hard as you can! Take control of the rally and look for the opportunity to move forward on the next ball.
–WHAT SHOT DO I HIT? Play an aggressive shot into your opponent’s weakness, or get them moving to the other side of the court in order to open up their weaker side. Play the ball a little flatter than you would off a red light ball, but you don’t need to hit it 2 inches from the net either. More net clearance and topspin will make your shot heavier and more effective.
GREEN LIGHT: Your opponent has given you a short ball, and you’re moving forward to play an aggressive shot. Take great care in your footwork and get yourself in ideal position. Your goal here is to hit a flatter shot to a corner and work your way to the net for a putaway volley.
-WHAT SHOT DO I HIT? Hit a flatter shot into a corner. You can aim a little lower over the net and drive it through the court. Look to move forward for a volley that you can play to the open area of the court on the next shot. Remember…balance is key on the green light ball! Move up to it quickly and take a moment to pause and gather yourself before you hit. Find a “moment of stillness” before you play your shot.
Keep this simple strategy in mind next time you hit the courts, and see if you can have a better purpose behind each shot that you hit!
Thanks for reading,