5 Steps to a Great Defensive Game

A lot of attention and advice centers on how to play better offensive tennis. But a smart defensive game can be just as important. 

Just take a look at the top players in the world and you'll see an amazing defensive game. Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, David Ferrer and Roger Federer all have incredibly good defensive games. 

Learn how (and when) to play defensively by following these five tips. 

Know When to Play Defensively

The first step is simple, but is easily forgotten by players once they step out on court. You need to know when to play defensively. Sometimes players think they can hit a better shot than what their opponent has allowed them to hit, and in doing so they make a simple error.

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When you're behind the baseline by a more than nine feet, it's a clear sign you need to play a little more defensively.

The only time you should be hitting a shot from nine feet behind the baseline is when your opponent forces you back there with a heavy, deep shot. In that case, play a high-percentage shot that has at least a 95 percent chance of going in.

Another sign that you're in a defensive situation is if other time you're moving laterally from side to side, or moving forward and you can't get in position in time to hit a shot comfortably. If this happens, you should play a defensive shot.

Play a Smart 'Safe Spots' Shot

When you're under pressure and having to hit defensively, you should try to hit a high topspin shot towards the safe spot on the court. This spot is generally down the center of the court and deep—and just inside the baseline.

This shot reduces the angle your opponent has on their next shot to attack and increases the time you have to recover. This is because high topspin shots land deep and keep the ball in the air longer.

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About the Author

Caleb Marshall is a Level 2 advanced pro tennis coach from Sydney, Australia. He runs one of the web's largest resource for free tennis drills for players and coaches at tennisdrillshq.com.

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