Most of us play tennis with the idea that it would be best if the ball does not come back after we hit our shot. It is extremely important to think that the ball is always going to come back. Try reinforcing this idea by actually hitting your shot so that the opponent is able to hit it back. That doesn't mean hit it soft, medium depth, and right into their comfort zone. Hit the ball medium speed and towards the middle of the court. Anywhere halfway between the sideline and the middle service line will be fine. It is not a bad idea to hit it slightly in the direction of their weaker shot. Try to start the point with a few balls like this and then make your target a little more away from the middle. Another option is to use the rally ball on the first few shots and then add speed to the same area of the court. Too often we decide that our shot has to immediately go away from our opponent, which tends to result in a lot of early unforced errors. Show your opponent that you can hit three or four rally balls and then put pressure on them as the point gets longer. Always remember to expect the ball to come back and you will start accepting that the rally is part of the development of the point in a good player's game.
Steve Annacone, USPTA Elite Professional, is a Tennis Coach with Traveling Tennis Pros in Tucson, Arizona, the Director of Annacone Tennis, MyHamptonsPro and First Serve Tucson. Steve is also a Volunteer Assistant Coach for the University of Arizona Women’s team. For questions about lessons, clinics, or coaching, please go to our Tennis Lessons Arizona page or contact us.