Red, Yellow, Green. Now these 3 distinct areas are defined as where you’re actually standing when you’re striking the ball. So either you’re striking and you’re standing in the red zone or you’re hitting in the yellow zone or you’re hitting it and you’re standing in the green zone. Now I’ve got these concepts and other concepts from different coaches that I have worked with and pieced together to make it very simple formula for you to understand strategy. Now the red, yellow and green, this represents the traffic lights. Red is wait! Yellow is proceed with caution and green is go! So in the Red zone you’re waiting. What are you waiting for you? You’re waiting for your opponent either miss, hit short, or change direction of the ball. In the yellow zone this is where you hit transition shots. Approach shots, you move through this area! So you don’t want to be caught standing and waiting here. You hit from this area and you move forward and transition to the net! To the green zone so when you’re at the net you are in the Green Zone and that’s where you look to finish. Now in the red zone there are 3 areas. We divide the Red zone into 3 distinct areas. From behind the baseline, we call this the defensive area. On the baseline we call it the neutral area and then inside the baseline we call it the offensive area! So from here you defend from back in the defensive area. The neutral position you rally and the offensive position you attack and you hit forcing shots. Just to be clear the red zone runs from the backfence to about 8 feet inside the baseline! The red zone! So like in a traffic light…. when the traffic light is red you want to wait. You want to wait for opponent to either miss, hit short or change direction of the ball. So from the defensive area, from behind the baseline… all you’re going to do is hit the ball cross-court deep or you want to center the ball. So you’re going to hit to zone 3 or zone 4. Now the reason I say cross-court because sometimes players will hit the ball short, centered but that ends up being down the line which now makes it easy for their opponent to attack to the open court cross-court. So you want to center the ball from behind the baseline. You want to use zone 3 or 4 but it’s basically cross-court deep. Now you don’t want to miss wide from this area of the court. If you aim through the court with the ball crosses the baseline. Now you eliminate 3 out of the 4 possibilities of missing. With high percentage tennis you want to go higher over the net, and if we try to miss long we take the missing left and missing right out of the equation so you’re only missing in one spot, and if we miss long we have to add more spin. But from that position you want to play deep through the court, keep it centered. You eliminate the angle you give to your opponent and you push him back. Same is true from the neutral area, you want to go cross-court deep. You want to play to zone 3 and 4 keeping it cross-court, keeping it centered. Now the offensive area that’s when you’re opponent hits the ball short. Now you have tactical options! You can now change direction of the ball. So if they hit the ball cross-court, you can now take that ball and attack it down the line to zone 3! Now we use this dotted line over here…it’s called the percentage line. It is your margin of safety and it’s 3 feet parallel to the single sidelines on both sides. So you want to attack down line using the percentage line to give yourself margin of safety. So you can change the direction to go down the line. You can actually go back behind into zone 3 and you also have the option to now open the court to zone 2. So when you hit to zone 2, you actually take your opponent of the court, but remember when you hit to zone 2 the court is about 17 feet shorter. So you have to hit that ball with more precision and spin to help bring that ball down. When you go to zone 3 whether you’re going cross-court or down the line you can be a little more aggressive! So that’s a little bit on the red zone. You want to wait for either your opponent to miss, hit short or change direction of the ball and when you’re inside the baseline that’s when you want to look to change direction and you can be aggressive or you can hit the short angles open the court. There are a few common mistakes, tactical mistakes we see happening all the time. Not only at the club level but also at the pro level you’ll see this. However one common thing you’ll see especially at the club level is very often you’ll get players who are in a defensive position. Remember your positioning where you’re hitting and standing in determines what kind of shot you should hit. So from the defensive position you should hit a defensive ball but very often people in a defensive position try to hit offensive shot and they’re trying to go down the line! That’s a very difficult shot to hit and also we talk about recovery, you put yourself out of position for the next shot. You’re too far away to recover and cover the cross-court and the opposite side of the court. So very often people are here and the defensive position and they want to go offensively down the line. This is a very difficult shot to hit and a very low percentage shot! Again you’re going to go with the numbers. How many times out of 10… are you going to make the shot and still be able to successfully finish the point! If you do make the shot, how many times do you end up losing the point because you cannot get to the next ball. Another position i see is more of a neutral position. You’ll see players stretched out wide and their feet aren’t set. So they’re actually in the alley right here and they want to tag the ball down the line. Now this is probably one of the most difficult shots you can hit! The ball is being hit cross-court, your feet aren’t set so it’s almost like your on skates sliding through. Your not balanced and now you got to redirect the ball, overcome the angle deflection, go over the high part of the net where the court is shorter! This is a very, very difficult shot to hit but time and time again players get pushed in this position… they panic and they go for what they think is the open court but they play an offensive shot from a neutral but also a defensive position and they’re trying to hit an offsenive ball and end up missing! Go with the knowledge, go with the information when you are not set with your feet… increase the upward angle and go high and deep cross-court to zone 3. Keep it simple! Again go with knowledge! Think about it this way, When you’re hitting from here and now what I would like to use is imagine the alley…if we use golf the alley is a water hazard! And zone 3 down the line is your green. So basically you’re hitting over the water hazard and you’re trying to land the ball on the green. If you hit short the ball is in the water hazard, you’ve lost the ball…. you’ve lost the point! So when you do go down the line ideally you want to be hitting it from this position so that what’s ahead of you is basically all fairway! So if you hit short the ball is still in. You’ve just got to worry about missing wide and that’s why we use that percentage line that runs three feet parallel to the single sideline. So that’s a common mistake I see from players, they get stretched out in this position and not safe with their feet. They see their opponent there, they panic and instead of going high and deep buying themselves time to recover… they tag the ball down the line and more often than not end up missing! The other position is from an offensive position. When you are in here, if you go down the line you have to hit an extremely good shot from this position because again you’re going over the alley, you’re going over the water hazard! If you are short guess what…you’re in the water, you’ve lost your ball, you’ve lost the point! It’s better off in this position to actually go back cross court because you have more court to work with, plus your recovery is back here! If you go down the line, you have to recover all the way to the other side of the center line! So now you’ve given your opponent the opening. When you are in this position you have to basically hit a winnner agaisnt a good opponent because there’s no way you’ll get back in time. So if you find yourself outside of the alley and in an offensive position, most of the time it’s not the best option to go down the line. Instead you’re better off going cross-court. Now we’re going to take a look at some examples of these common mistakes in action! I’m going to feed the ball and we’re going to look at in super slow motion and we’re going to look at how small the target is from those positions. Hitting the bad target represented by the red cones and also how that affects your court coverage, your position, and how far away the player is from the recovery position. In this first example Nadim is going to go high and deep cross-court. And we will take note of his recovery position at the time where his opponent would be striking the ball. So here he’s pulled off the court, he’s in a defensive position… He’s going to high and deep cross-court. The ball is centered and about at this time his opponent will be striking the ball. See how he is very close to that 3-foot area to the left of the center mark. Now the next example we’re going to take a look at Nadim being pulled out wide and then trying to tag the ball down the line. We will note his recovery position. Now Nadim is gonna be moving to his right. Notice how he is going to be moving through the contact point which makes it very difficult to now hit the ball down the line. He comes up with a good shot here but now note where he is when his opponent would be striking the ball. He’s in the doubles alley, you can see he’s left the entire court wide open! Now Nadim is a highly skilled player but if he does not hit a winner from this position, the point against a good opponent is pretty much over! Here’s a second example of Nadim being stretched and moving through contact, tagging the ball down the line. Now his momentum is taking him off the court which is going to push the ball wide and usually this is the normal result we see the players try to tag the ball down the line when they’re moving through the contact point!

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Dennis Veasley

15 thoughts on “Singles Strategy: Simple 3-Step Shot Selection System”

  1. Thanks… that was an extremely useful tip! Yes, i aim at the lines and normally go well below the 2 feet guideline over the net!!

  2. I don't really understand the logic of not going down the line when getting pulled to the alley. If the reason is about not being able to cover the next cross court ball, it doesn't make sense. If we go cross on the same situation, our opponent can still hit down the line, and we will have to cover the other side of the court as well.

  3. Thanks for the video. It is tempting to go down the line. Do you go crosscourt even when the opponent is coming to the net?

  4. We could also say that when the player is really in defense, if he plays cross court, the other player just has to play down the line to win the point. I don"t think it's always a good choice to defend cross court. Sometimes it's better and easier to defend down the line with a high long ball.

  5. How about when you play against someone that can hit the ball deep against you 20 straight times? Makes for very long points especially playing someone 20 years younger.

  6. Really!!?? Out of an 11 minute- video, you talked for 9!? You're doing telemarketing dude, not tennis! God, I'm so sick and tired of wasting my time with people like you, who love the sound of their voice!

  7. Thank you. In your previous video on tactics you said pros only aim near the line 15% of the time, or whatever the percent was. I can see it is wise not to aim near the sidelines. But it seems you want to keep it deep so you should aim close to the baseline most of the time, and not in the middle of the court. Is that right? How close to the baseline should a 3.5 or 4.0 player generally be aiming?

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