Why tennis players need to buy and steal time
In Tennis we have to always be considering the speed which we want to get the ball back over the net. We need to consider the time we give our opponents between their shots and how much time we need to give ourselves between shots. This is impacted by:
a) How quickly we move towards the ball.
b) How hard we hit it along with the flight of the ball.
c) Where we hit it.
Buy yourself some time
By playing a slow and loopy shot, especially cross court, you then ‘buy yourself time’. If you are playing the shot on the run from in the corner of the court then it can be wise to play the shot more defensively and buy yourself time to recover back to the middle of the court and in a more neutral court position.
The other reason why you would play a shot to buy time is a tactical decision to try and break the rhythm of your opponent. By increasing the time between your opponents shots this may or may not cause some problems in your opponents game but it can be a good plan B if your opponent is timing the ball beautifully.
Buying time shots:
a) Loopy, topspin crosscourt or to the middle of the court
b) Floating slice shot crosscourt
There is no point only defending in tennis and you need to take your offensive opportunities when they come. Stealing time can be done by hitting the ball on the rise or at its peak generating power on the ball and a laserbeam (or low rainbow) trajectory. You can steal time with an aggressive cross court shot but its more likely to be an hard, down the line shot or it can be the ultimate stealing time tactic of closing the point with a volley or smash.
Stealing time is important because you want to catch your opponent off guard in their court position and challenge their reaction time. Stealing time in a similar way to buying time can be a great plan B if your opponent is on top and sometimes it can be helpful if your playing too tight and nervously.
Stealing time shots
a) Volley or smash (anywhere)
b) Forehand or backhand down the line
Train for this
So make sure you are training these situations and if you are coaching others, helping them to understand buying time vs stealing time is half the tactical battle.
Director of Coaching