Junior Coaching & Development

Anticipate Your Opponent’s Shots

Here is another article from contributor David Berens

Club players often marvel at the speed of the top pros on tour and, admittedly, they are super-humans capable of very quick sprints. However, if you watch closely, you will see the fastest players begin to move toward their opponent’s shots before it crosses to their side of the net. How is this possible? Anticipation.

Improve your Anticipation with these 3 easy tennis instruction steps:

1) Watch their RACKET: Though we often see our opponent’s racket, we are very slow to use that information to deduce where and how they are going to hit the ball. If the backswing is high with an open racket face, the next shot will likely be a slice. And if the backswing is low, short and the racket face is open, there might be a lob coming your way.

2) Watch their BODY POSITION: There are a few different ways the body can give away an opponent’s shot. If they are in trouble – lunging, leaping, or diving – we can often expect a short reply. If they are leaning back and looking up, we know it’s going to be a lob. Or if they turn their shoulder to take huge backswing and really load with their legs, we may have to brace for a groundstroke blast!

3) Watch the SITUATION: I often call this situational awareness. If my partner and I are charging the net in doubles, our opponents are pushed back on defense and the shot we hit has some loop to it, I’m guessing a lob is coming. Or during a rally, I hit a great angle that my opponent gets to easily; I expect an angle is coming back.

Are your educated guesses always right? No, but with a little more attention to these 3 details, you may find that you know where your opponent’s shots are going just a little quicker. And if you know where it’s going, you can probably be two to three steps faster getting to the shot! So be faster in your next match with Anticipation by watching your opponent more closely!

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