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Total Control

Tuesday, March 20, 2012 /by

Most players train to hit the ball harder, or to run faster or become stronger. Power, strength and speed can take you far in tennis, but you can offset shortcomings in these areas by practicing control.

Most students define control as accuracy. But it’s only part of the definition. Control has many components and you’ll do well to practice all of them each time you play.

When most people think “placement” they don’t consider all of their options, including angles, short slices, deep slices, dinks and drop shots.

Point control
If you control more of the points, you’re going to win more of them. Point control is measured by comfort. Are you playing a match on your terms? Are you hitting the shots you like to hit and making your opponent hit shots that he or she doesn’t like to hit? Are you deciding the outcome of most points by either forcing your opponent into errors or hitting winners? Sometimes you have to make sacrifices to control a match. For instance, if your opponent can’t handle a high topspin forehand, you should hit more of those, even if you prefer to hit a flatter, harder ball.

Mental discipline
During a match, do not overthink but never lose focus. A mental breakdown can give your opponents hope that they can beat you, and it will also sap your energy very quickly.

Physical control
All players have some degree of physical limitations, but you can hide some of them by learning how to read the oncoming ball before it bounces. Try to recognize the height, speed, spin and direction of the ball as soon as possible.

For more of Nick's advice on total control, click here.

Nick Bollettieri of the Bollettieri Tennis Academy has trained many collegiate and professional players, including 10 who reached the world No. 1 ranking.

Originally published in the March 2012 issue of TENNIS. 


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