Best Tennis Tactics Against Pushers

tennis coaching

Seeing that most kids that my daughters played against were very steady from the baseline (real human walls), we decided that we had to come up with a good tactic against them. And indeed we DID!

These combinations of shots won at least two matches (easily) during my daughters’ latest tournament:

Two days before we took off for the tournament I set up the ball machine and had my daughters practice their drop shots.
Once they got a good feel for the short balls, we proceeded to discuss what they’d do from there on…

Considering that “pushers” are very comfortable playing at the baseline, once, at the net, they might try to either back away from it (towards the baseline) or stay up where their volleys would not be solid enough.
Right after the drop shot, my daughters had to be inside the baseline and get ready for an eventual short ball return or a deep one.

Tactic 1:
If their opponents would back up and away from the net following the drop shot return, my daughters were going to take the next ball early and hit it to their feet or easily pass them considering their fragile balance while backing up.

Tactic 2:
If the opponents were going to stay up at the net, I instructed my daughters to hit the first ball in the direction of their opponents and try to pass them on the second attempt.
By hitting to them first, the opposing player might be taken by surprise, expecting a pass. On the second attempt, while the opponents try to defend themselves, a passing shot would be easier to execute.

The first tactic was more efficient since most of the pushers did not feel comfortable staying at the net and tried to move back to baseline.

At least two matches were won by my daughters (each) applying these tactics!
Try them and let me know if they worked for you too.

For more tactics and strategies that work, click here!

Cosmin Miholca

Cosmin Miholca

Certified Tennis Coach

Check out my work at WebTennis24 where I share with you my best video tennis lessons, drills and tips for players, coaches and tennis parents.

How to Play When Your Opponent Is “In the Zone”

playing tennis

This situation has happened to me many times over my 27 years of playing tennis:

You play against an opponent whom you have competed with before, but on this particular day everything “connects” for them: the groundstrokes are consistent, perfectly placed and timed drop-shots, their lobs are “magically” finding the baseline, the first serves are at a high percentage… and whatever you do the ball finds its way to come back for another shot. In short, your opponent has one of those days when everything connects. So frustrating for you!

What should you do and how do you play?

One lesson I’ve learned in my entire tennis career is that no matter how good your opponent is playing, you should always care for these three things:
1. How long can they maintain this level of play?
2. Whatever it takes, you should stay positive and show no sign of frustration to fuel your already confident opponent.

3. Stick with whatever strokes you feel you have control over. It is not the time to try something new. Be humble in your play.

Really, all it takes to win most of the matches against “in the zone” players comes down to the above three mental points.

However you play, always keep in mind that the mentally stronger players always (or at least most of the time) prevail when the balance of technical skills is leveled between players.

Have fun on the court!

Cosmin Miholca

Cosmin Miholca

Certified Tennis Coach

Check out my work at WebTennis24 where I share with you my best video tennis lessons, drills and tips for players, coaches and tennis parents.

How to Play Against a “Big” Server and Tall Net Player

tennis doubles

A few days ago I got an email from one of our subscribers who is a passionate doubles player. He had a dilemma: how should he return against an aggressive server and a tall player at the net?
Immediately I thought: tough question! In my opinion, this particular player has to face a perfect doubles team: a great server and a tall partner to pick up the weak return.

The thing is that most players would try their best to avoid the net player by hitting aggressive passive shots. That puts extra pressure and the percentage of missing the balls into the net or out is greater.

I would do the following:
– For doubles… I’d have my partner position just behind the service line and let them know that I’d return the serve right at the opposing net player (well, not all the time; just often enough to keep them from poaching and putting the pressure on).
– For singles… again, I’d try to hit the ball at my approaching opponent’s feet or hit the first ball right at them, waiting for my chance for a passing shot.

Cosmin Miholca

Cosmin Miholca

Certified Tennis Coach

Check out my work at WebTennis24 where I share with you my best video tennis lessons, drills and tips for players, coaches and tennis parents.

Why You Should Have at Least Two Reliable Tennis Strokes

playing tennis

I thought about writing this article after a match I recently played against one of my top students.

What happened during that match?

Even though my student is much younger than me (he is 17), I found myself overpowered in the matter of his strokes and quickness. This usually makes me proud to see in my students but in that particular situation I had to save my pride by trying not to lose to him. (:

One thing I had to do to stay “alive” in that match was… to be creative and get out of my comfort zone.
To achieve that, I had to mix my shots a lot more often than I usually do. I had to plan ahead every stroke (I mean, to think of at least two tactical strokes before the point would begin) and be “on my toes” a lot quicker…

So what was the lesson that you can learn from my experience?

– If a player wants to achieve top performance in tennis, they must strive for consistency and stroke dependability first. This consistency must be applied to at least two shots on each side (forehand, backhand, or serve). Because if one fails, you must be able to rely on the other one.
In what way can a stroke fail you? In my case, against this particular student, he would 90% of the time crush my kick serve (put it away) so I had to use my slice on the second serve most of the time to keep him from winning the point off of my second serve. So having two dependable serves (kick and slice) I could switch between them when one failed me.

– You, as a player, must learn/practice to think ahead in the point. Avoid just hitting the ball in play and wait to see what happens. Instead, you must make things happen. If your opponent, let’s say, is slow, then hit the ball often to the open court to make them hit it on the run (off-balance); if they like to come up to the net, you can visualize a two-shot combination: one short at their feet followed by an attacking shot (assuming the low ball at their feet will produce a slow return), etc.
Think of at least two shots that will put you ahead in the point!

– A good player must be quick. If you are not, then you can train to be one.
When I say quick, I do not mean fast. As an example, I was never a fast runner but I was quick on the tennis court.
How can you be quick on the tennis court? Apart from doing footwork and specific drills, you must train your eye to read your opponent’s body language. The way their body is facing before the shot or the grip they’re using to strike the ball is to be paid attention to all the time. Also, learn proper court coverage so you know ahead of time (before your opponent strikes the ball) what your opponent’s options are considering their location on the court.

Consider these new tips in assessing your game and see what you lack and what you need to improve.

Above all, try to work on stroke variety in your practice sessions. Is your slice backhand a weak shot? Then go ahead and practice it. You never know when you will have the chance to play against someone who does not handle slice well.
Is your slice serve a weak shot? Well… you know what to do. And so on.
Practice what you are not very good at because being able to change your game and mix your shots will pay off in many tennis matches.

Having fun playing comes from being confident that you can rely on your strokes ability when needed.

Practice all your shots, not only the ones you like!

Cosmin Miholca

Cosmin Miholca

Certified Tennis Coach

Check out my work at WebTennis24 where I share with you my best video tennis lessons, drills and tips for players, coaches and tennis parents.