This guide will teach you how to choose the right shots in singles, and how to position yourself to cover the court well.
Most tactics guides contain little tactical content, and read like an inventory of shots:
use all the different shots to pressure your opponent. Well, yes. But why choose one shot rather than another? What is the tactical difference between a clear and a drop shot?
How would you answer that question? Would you say something anodyne, such as:
clears move your opponent into the rearcourt, and drops move him into the forecourt; or
they are both good shots, and it’s best to vary your shots?
This guide contains a large amount of detailed information, so you may prefer to digest it over more than one sitting.
An overview of this guide
The first few pages explain the fundamental ideas:
- The basic strategy in singles: movement pressure
- The idea of a central base position and how it should be adjusted
- The principle of hitting to the corners, and the differences between corners
- Hitting to the middle as a defensive resource
Apart from just describing these concepts, I provide deep analysis of why they work. For example, my page on hitting to the same corner includes extensive analysis of this tactic’s psychological effect. Even if you are familiar with these basic tactics, you may still learn something useful.
Building and winning shots
In both these sections, I explain the merits of each shot, and the tactical consequences of choosing different angles or trajectories. I also explain how certain shots are connected, and offer tactical analysis of sequences of shots.
In the final section, deception, I explain the value of deception in singles, the distinction between deceiving and delaying, how to practise deception, and what technical skills you need for playing a deceptive shot.
I then give an overview of common deceptions in the forecourt and rearcourt. Because this isn’t a technical guide, I don’t give much detail about the techniques involved; rather, I want to give you ideas for playing deceptive shots.
Tactics depend on skills
This guide will assume that you have a complete set of stroke skills and are physically fit enough for the game.
You will need to adapt your tactics to cover up weaknesses. For example: if your high serve is inconsistent and rarely reaches the back tramlines, then you should probably never use it. Try a low serve instead.
You can of course improve your performance by training to eliminate those weaknesses. But it’s too late for this when you’re playing a match! In competition you must adapt your tactics for your current capabilities.
Table of contents
- Strategy: movement pressure
- The central base position
- Hitting to the four corners
- Hitting to the middle
- Building shots
- Winning shots