Neutralizing Offensive Shots

December 23, 2014 10:00 am

Hey everyone. Today I want to talk to you about a very important concept and that concept is neutralizing your opponents offensive shots. Now, this is a very important concept and something that most professional players don’t get right on the tennis court. Now, recently I’ve been watching a lot of men’s tennis on TV. French Open were going on and if you’re watching those guys play it’s almost as if it is impossible to hit a winner on these guys. OK. There are almost no winners from behind the baseline because these guys defend so well and they neutralize their opponents shots. Now, in my opinion, there are basically two reasons why it’s so hard to hit a winner against these guys. Number one, they are phenomenal athletes and they get in and out of the corner in lightening speed. OK, and number two and that’s really what I want to focus on with you guys today, is they make very good use of the geometry of the tennis court and they neutralize their opponents offensive shots. So, what exactly do I mean by neutralizing. Now, some of you might not have heard the term before and the basic idea with neutralizing is that you want to try to go from a defensive position to a neutral positions and you do not want to try to go from a defensive position straight to an offensive position, which is what a loft of tennis players do. So, how do you go about neutralizing. Well, again, there are two things I really want you to keep in mind. Number one, you need to get the ball deep from those defensive positions. OK. If you get the ball deep, your opponent is forced to back up from the baseline, you’re going to have time to get back to the middle of the court to cover the court and it’s going to be very difficult for your opponent to hurt you with the next shot. The second thing to keep in mind is that you don’t have to hit the ball close to the side lines when you’re defending. OK. You can really hit the ball down the middle as long as you get it deep and a lot of times it is actually going to be tougher for your opponent if you hit it down the middle, because they don’t have as much angle to work with to open up the court against you. Alright, let’s have a look at some examples. Alright, so here you can see two of my students. Phillip is in the front and Sonja is in the back. We’re going to see a very neutralizing situation here in a second and Phillip is going to neutralize a down the line shot from Sonja. Now, let’s have a look at the scene right here. As you can see it’s a basic rally and now Phillip is hitting cross court and Sonja is going to hit an aggressive shot down the line as you can see right here and now from this situation Phillip has to neutralize and the ideal way to do that is to go deep and down the middle. OK. So he has to work with height and he has to make sure that he gets the ball rather deep and as you can see right now he managed to do exactly that. He got the ball deep and the ball was not too close to the side line and that’s exactly what he needs to do in order to neutralize. Now we seen an animation that really gives you better visual input on where you should be aiming your shots from these kinds of situations. As you can see, the target area to neutralize is deep and down the middle and if you managed to neutralize down into this area, that does two things for you. Number one, your opponent has to back up behind the baseline and that gives you more time to come back to the middle and to get into the best possible recovery position and additionally, if you keep the ball a little more to the middle, into this target area, you’re opponent is not going to have a lot of angels to work with. So, the amount of court you have to cover for the next shot is really not that big and that’s why neutralizing into this area is so effective. OK. Let’s have a look at another neutralizing scenario and again Phillip has to neutralize one of Sonja’s offensive shots. Only in this situation Phillip does not manage to properly neutralize. He doesn’t get enough depth on the shot and enough height and gives Sonja the opportunity to step onto the court and hit an aggressive shot and Sonja from this situation, she can open up the court. She can go short cross court. She could go deep cross court or she could down the line again. Overall, Phillip is in a really bad position right here. OK. Let’s have a look at the animation one more time to give you a better visual input. Now, as you can see, Phillip hit cross court and then Sonja attacked with an aggressive down the line shot and now Phillip has to neutralize and his ball lands short. Giving Sonja all sorts of opportunities. She can go short cross court from here. She can open up the court or she can hit a deep cross court shot. She can hit down the line and Phillip is just in a really, really bad situation. You see the target area there and that’s really what he needs to go for. If he’s gonna miss in this situation, he needs to miss long and he needs to go rather down the middle to make sure that he doesn’t open up angels and to make sure that he doesn’t miss wide. Alright. Next time you go out on the court, think about neutralizing from defensive positions. Now, the way to do that is to try to get the ball deep and more towards the middle. If you’re struggling to get the ball deep, focus on height. The higher you hit the ball, the easier it’s going to be for you to hit the ball deep.

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