How to Reduce Unforced Errors With Easy Shot Selection

A little help from proper shot selection can help keep your unforced errors to a minimum.

An unforced error due to poor shot selection is one of the biggest causes of lost points for tennis players. The problem is that most players overlook the simple rules of shot selection and then make the mistake of attributing the error to poor technique.

This is totally wrong.

Many unforced errors are caused simply because players make the wrong choice of shot for their particular situation.

All you have to do is identify your situation and build up a set of shots that you play in certain situations and repeat them until they are second nature. The result is a small number of well-executed shots with maximum effectiveness.

By using something I call the Game Filtration System, you filter out the on-court stuff you don't need and leave yourself with only the important information needed to choose the best shot for your situation.

The system breaks the game down into two areas: situations and shot selection.


At any stage in a point, one of five things is happening from your perspective.

  1. You are serving
  2. You are returning
  3. Both you and your opponent are at the back of the court (what we call both back)
  4. You are approaching or you are at the net
  5. Your opponent is approaching or at the net

In the example of serving, if you were to acknowledge that this was the situation you were in, you could very easily narrow down the thoughts and decisions you would need to make before executing the shot.

So, for instance, you could decide because you are right handed to serve a slice out wide from the deuce court to your left-handed opponent.

Why is this better? Stepping up to the baseline with loads of things in your head that you want to do (or maybe things you don't want to do) is less likely to give you the success you want than if you had thought:

"Ok, I'm serving and I know that I am fairly confident of making one of these three types of serves in one of these areas and I also know that this will cause my opponent the most pain."

And don't worry if you are not at the level yet where these serves are at your disposal. You can be just as effective if your serve choice is, "I just want to get the serve in, so maybe I'll try to aim it to the left."

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About the Author

Paul Gold

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

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