Depth Dictates Victory

Fortune Favours the Bold – Hannibal

Nine times out of ten I can tell who will win a pro match based on how deep in the court they’re standing and how deep they’re landing the ball.

Court positioning:

Less aggressive < ————————–>More aggressive  | (net)

So where you stand is important. If you are standing way behind the baseline, this is a very defensive place to be. The number of shots you can hit consistently has decreased, and your opponent now has more time to react to any ball you hit at them. You can no longer catch them off-guard with a dropshot, and you must attempt to work your way back onto the baseline by hitting deep balls with heavy spin. Trying to attack from far behind the baseline is a high risk strategy. You also have to cover more of the court if your opponent gets you running from side to side. This will tire you out more than were you to stand in closer.

Generally, the closer to the net you are, the more aggressive your court position. From on the baseline or inside the baseline, you can hit the ball earlier, giving your opponent less time to react. The angles you have are increased, and you have a wide selection of high probability shots to choose from.

In a scenario where one player is standing on the baseline and the other is way behind the baseline, the odds greatly favor the player who is standing in the more aggressive court position. Sometimes it is indeed necessary to play from far behind the baseline, but you should always attempt to recover to the baseline and put yourself in a neutral or aggressive position for the point. If a player is consistently in defensive court position, they do not stand a good chance of winning.

Depth of Shots

How deep you hit your shots goes hand in hand with the court positioning of each player. If you hit your shots consistently near the baseline, you rob your opponent of time and leave them with a limited number of shots to choose from. A ball that lands near the baseline is considered an aggressive shot, and typically will allow you to gain control of the point as your opponent struggles to return it.

Any ball that lands with topspin near the service line will bounce up just high enough to be in your opponent’s sweetspot strike zone, and these balls are therefore considered weak. You are giving your opponent an opportunity to attack, rather than pushing them back into a defensive posture.

Most players focus too much on whether or not they hit the ball crosscourt or down the line, or how close to the line. It would be much more beneficial to focus on hitting the ball deep in the court within 3 feet of the baseline consistently, regardless of whether or not the ball lands in the corner or middle of the opponent’s court.

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