Hitting off the court vs. hitting through the court

Hitting off the court vs. hitting through the court? I thought you were just supposed to hit into the court?!  Making your ball is, of course, the ultimate goal but within that, if you have the control, there are many different areas of the court to place your ball.

Hitting off the court means the ball will cross a singles’ side line before it reaches the baseline.  Hitting through the court means the ball will cross the baseline before it reaches a side line. 

Hitting the ball through the court limits your opponents’ choices (by not giving them any angle) and pushes them back, hopefully resulting in a weaker ball with which you can go on the offense.
Hitting the ball off the court makes your opponent move more – and perhaps gets them off balance – as well as opening up the rest of the court for you to hit into.

In my previous post, ‘Keeping It Simple’, I talked about how if you were behind the baseline you should aim cross court and if inside the court to aim down the line.  Those are great basic ideas to follow. Once you have that down, however, you can start to think about exactly where cross court and down the line you want your ball to go.

Here is a scenario of when would be a good time to hit through the court and when to hit off the court. Imagine splitting the court into even thirds, lengthways (so parallel with the doubles’ alley).  Your opponent hits you a ball that has you hitting, behind the baseline, from the middle alley (so center of the court).  From this spot in the court you have no angle to hit into and you are behind the baseline so you should aim your ball cross court and through the court.  You want to aim as deep as you can with the result of pushing your opponent back and forcing them to hit a weaker shot. You can hit into the center third or the outer third depending on your balance, how much time you have and whether you have control of the ball or not.
If your opponent hits a deep, tough shot to the center alley again in reply then you should repeat the above advice. If, however, they give you a tough shot but in the outer alley (pulling you wide) then you have a few options available to you. IF you are on balance and can make contact out in front then you can go for whatever angle has been given to you by your opponent. If you are unable to plant your feet and give yourself a good support base, or if you are late on the ball, you should try to hit through the court again and wait for a better opportunity.

If they do hit a weak ball that allows you to move inside the court make sure you hit the ball at the peak of the bounce (to take as much time away from your opponent as possible while bringing you inside the court and allowing to you hit down on the ball) into the outer third of the alleys you have separated the court into. Obviously you will be aiming to hit through the court. If you decide to hit the ball cross court you should aim to hit it off the court with as much angle as you have available.

To put it in simple terms the most high percentage tennis is to hit back into the same third that your opponent has hit to you from. So if they hit cross court into the outer third then you can safely hit back into their outer third, taking the ball off the court if you have the opportunity. The more angle you are given the more angle you can create.
If they hit up the middle third then you’re safest bet is to hit up the middle too and go through the court. It will just depend on who is hitting the better shot up the middle alley as to who gets the shorter ball or unforced error first.




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