Play Your Position
Tennis is a sport where with every single shot played you as the player are in a different ‘position’ which brings different a different risk/reward along with a different mindset to what your trying to achieve. I am going to compare the standard positions of a team sport to that of tennis. The positions are defence, midfield and attack.
As a defender your role is first and foremost to stop the opponents from scoring. In a sport such as Basketball you are not considering scoring as the defender. You are simply trying to stop the other person from scoring and then regain control of the ball. In tennis this is similar to playing it safe with what would normally be a cross court, high ‘rainbow’ shape ball giving you lots of time to recover.
From defence to midfield…
A defender’s secondary aim is to get the ball towards the midfield so therefore with a successful defensive play, a movement forwards is the natural result. In Tennis this may be even just be recovery from the sidelines to the middle of the court. This however is still a positive move and enables a ‘midfield’ type of shot to follow.
A defensive shot should remain low risk as the potential downside is a lost point and a payoff is unlikely given court position and preparation. The only time that a high risk attacking shot should be hit is if you are out of legs.
A midfielders role is first and foremost to create opportunities for your attackers. This is perhaps the most creative of the positions and ‘set plays’ are often used through the midfield. In Tennis this is often a crosscourt shot which brings your opponent off the court or even a drop shot which in itself isnt the attacker but sets up the point (or goal).
From midfield to attack…
In Tennis terms this is moving forwards either inside the baseline or even an approach to the net which is the most aggresive of midfield plays. A forward movement should always be the result as your attacker wants to pounce quickly.
A midfielder shot has some risk attached to it as you are trying to win the point or (score the goal). Therefore the reward is fairly high.
As an attacker your role is first and foremost to score (finish the point). You must be quick, confident and believe in your decision.
This is your attacker vs their defender and you often need to take on some reasonable degree of risk to achieve the ultimate finish. If your midfielder has done their job right, your attacker often has an easier job with what might be an easy volley or forehand as a result of a set play.
As mentioned, this will depend on the effectiveness of the midfielder and this risk can be reduced with a quality set up.
Pro Tennis Players
- Nadal is the obvious great defender with excellent midfield. His midfield is so good that often his attacker is simply finishing the job.
- Federer is good at all positions without excelling at one over the other. Below photo is midfield
- Tsonga and Monfils are perhaps great attackers who can score incredible ‘goals’. As many commentators will agree that by improving their set plays (midfielders) they then are not putting as much pressure on their attackers to come up with amazing shots.
What position do you prefer ?
Here at Scarborough Tennis Academy in Perth, Western Australia we teach you to play to your strengths and natural game style whilst obviously improving the other aspects of your game. Everyone has a preferred position. For example:
Serve volleyers – attackers
All court players / attaching baseliners – midfield / attackers
Defensie baseliners / grinders – defenders
Decision Making vs. Execution
Not every shot is going to go in but if your decision making is correct and you have played to your position then this is a great start. If you can eliminate trying to hit winners from the defensive zone and also playing scared from your attaching zone then this will help your game.