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Entries in Offense (2)


Steal This Drill: Offense Defense

In the fields of athletic competition, war and, sometimes, business it is often said that "the best offense is a good defense". Of course, when it comes to putting the ball away in tennis, being the master of defensive shots is often not enough. Many times, players work the point to perfection, get an easy sitter in the middle of the court and then fail to convert on the occasion. Whether they overhit, underhit or it the ball right to the opponent, these players could be well-served by practicing some offense-defense type drills. 

Here's a good and SIMPLE drill that two players (or a player and coach) can incorporate in their practice in order to develop the ability to "pop" the ball. One player (the practice partner) stays in one half of the court and simply moves the opponent (the "principal") side to side with SOFT, medium-height shots (i.e. balls should bounce above 6ft). The principal tries to thump these balls back to the practice partner with hard, penetrating shots. By performing this drill, the principal learns how to move his feet for the ball, load his body weight and also generate racket head speed. Remember that the practice partner is not generating any pace (he simply blocks the ball back - hence the "defense" in the name of the drill) so all the pace is provided by the principal. The principal goes to the point of exhaustion (up to 3 minutes is good; beyond 3 minutes it's great). Thereafter, the players switch roles so each gets a chance to dictate. Sprinkle this drill throughout your workouts and very soon you will master the put-away shot. By hitting these shots with confidence, your whole game will change. You will hit more winners (from an optimal court position); you will force the opponent to go for more on regular shots (since she knows that if she gives you the floater you will put the ball away); and you will develop a more aggressive instinct.


Steal This Drill: Offense/Defense Drill

If you have a willing partner, this is a good drill to work on your offense and defense in a productive manner. Many of the points you encounter in the match will be on the extremes- either you will be on the offense or on the defense.  Many people like to practice their rally ball, but this is not what happens in an intense match. One person is usually defending, while the other is attacking.  

Player A is the offensive player and Player B is the defensive player.  Player A is allowed to pick 1 of 3 offensive patterns:


  • Hitting the ball side-to-side
  • Hitting the ball twice to the deuce, then once to the ad
  • Hitting the ball once to the deuce, then twice to the ad

Player B has to defend each pattern and return each ball back to the center of the court (return to a cone in the middle of the court, halfway between service line and baseline).  Player B is working on resetting the point back in the middle of the court, working on digging balls out of the corner.  Usually by putting the ball in the middle of the court, you give your opponent no angle to hit winners.  

Since you know the pattern Player A is attempting, you should be able to get most of the balls (Player A must not hold back, but really go for his shots).  Player B is not going to be able to be on top of the baseline while on defense, you are on defense!  Defense means give up court, retreat position, and look to buy time.  Try to anticipate the next shot, but getting a headstart.  This is how slow players defend well, they understand what shot is coming next.  

Variation: Player A (offensive player) does not tell Player B what the pattern is beforehand.  Player B must try to figure out the pattern Player A is trying to execute.  When you are on defense, you can learn to sense where the ball might be going.  

Most American players (huge generalization, which is why Jose Higueras is pushing for clay courts), believe it to be a character flaw to be on defense.  Many young kids are not proud to run, to defend, to get nasty, and to even look ugly. In the same vein, many parents/coaches believe the fallacy that offense is always the best defense. American tennis did just fine 20 years ago with only hardcourts in America, it's a mentality to compete and not look for the easy way out.