How to Neutralize a Tough Opponent

Poor shot selection is one of the main reasons club players lose points on a regular basis, but the good news is you don't have to.

The line between bad shot selection and poor technique for some players is so thin it becomes difficult to see.

More: How to Choose the Right Shot

There's probably no better example in the club game than when a player is placed under pressure, pushed out wide and off the court. They have very little court to aim at and even less time to make the shot, so what do they do?

They go for the impossible and take a shot that most pros would, at best, rate as a 1 in 10 chance of making.

When you're faced with a scenario like this, you do have options. The No. 1 strategy, which is underused, is to learn how to play and execute the high moonball or lob to buy yourself time.

More: The Secret to Returning Lobs

Putting the ball up high into the air and trying to land it deep into your opponent's court buys you time. It can also force your opponent to back up and continue the point from a position where he or she no longer has the advantage.

Making a play such as this, when your opponent is very much on the attack, is called neutralizing. It's a strategy far too many club players either don't know about or choose to ignore.

It may not get you onto ESPN's Play of The Day, but it will help you win a lot more points and matches. Plain and simple: it's just great tennis strategy. And it's used by the pros. Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray, Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams play this shot on a regular basis.

More: 4 Lessons from Novak Djokovic

Neutralizing becomes even more important when you consider that most matches, especially at the recreational level, are lost on the amount of errors, not winners.

The better you become at recognizing who has the upper hand during points and how to correctly react to the situation, the better your on-court strategy will become and the more matches you will win.

More: How to Reduce Unforced Errors

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About the Author

Paul Gold has been involved in enhancing the performance of tennis players of all levels from beginners to touring professionals for more than 20 years.. For Paul's free mini-course footwork video, visit footwork4tennis.com.

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