Winning a tennis match is determined by both the players skill and their strategy.  Don’t rely purely on talent and physical prowess, develop a game plan before and during each match.  Here are five basic shots you can leverage while playing offensively.  Learn and practice these shots to improve your game.

Cross court

Crosscourt shots have some major advantages:

  • Wider angles are possible.
  • The ball can travel farther allowing for a harder shot.
  • The ball goes over the middle of the net, the lowest point.

Leverage this shot early to force your opponent to run more, giving them a smaller chance of hitting a solid return.

While the racket face controls the final direction of your shot, remember that you need to position your body appropriately as well.  Point your hips and shoulders to ensure you can maximize power.  Keep the ball deep giving you’re an easier return.

Topspin will help the ball drop in, and the extra bounce will push the player even further back on the court.  Your slice should be reserved for when your player is off-balance, has a long distance to travel, or you need to vary the play.

Down the line

A down the line shot can be very difficult and lead to unforced errors.  The ball travels a shorter distance and passes the net at the highest point.  The difficulty also makes it unexpected.  Practice this shot whenever possible and make it part of your arsenal.  Save it for a short or slow return to avoid unnecessary errors.

Remember, that if a player can return a down the line shot with an aggressive cross court, they will likely win the point.  This doesn’t mean you should avoid a down the line, only that you should be strategic and use it when it makes sense.


This is a shot you won’t use often, but it can be effective against the right player.  Opponents who avoid going to net, probably lacks skill and confidence in that position.  They prefer trading baseline shots for the entire point.  Take advantage of this weakness by hitting a short shot, drawing them to the net.  They may retreat back to the baseline, tiring them out, or be pulled forward giving you an opportunity to lob over their head or hitting an aggressive passing shot.


Your opponent is at net, you can’t hit a typical baseline rally shot or they will go for the winner.  Your best bet while playing offensively is a strong passing shot.  Focus on these key points:

  • Keep the ball low. The net palyer will be forced to hit it up, putting you in a much better position.
  • Topspin balls drop faster.
  • Play the angles if available
  • Don’t be afraid to hit towards the player.

A strong passing shot may not always win the point, but it will set you up for the next play.  Stay calm and confident, just because your opponent moved to net doesn’t mean you’ve lost the point.

Drop Shot

Drop shots are the smallest and shortest, but are extremely effective.  They are most effective against a baseliner who refuses to come to net, or a return on a second serve while the player is at the baseline.

Drop shots are difficult to master and should be the last added to your arsenal.  Utilize plenty of back spin and use them sparingly.  They are only effective if they are unexpected so overuse makes them a weakness instead of a strength.

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