- By Brandon Ogle
Slices, forehands, backhands, cross-court, down the line, drop shots and so many others. All of the great tennis players have learned to master each of these shots to create a true all-around game. While you can have your own strengths and weaknesses, it is important to always have an extra weapon in your arsenal. For young players, I recommend to avoid becoming overly complacent. One dominant shot may be able to win games at lower levels, but as you get older, the game gets more and more technical.
Needed at All Levels
Of the shots listed above, one that is about important as any is the drop shot. The reason why it’s so important to master is a result of the efficiency needed to master it. A poorly hit drop shot can easily lose the point in an instant. Likewise, a correctly executed drop shot will likely finish the point in your favor pretty quick. The reason I say this is a shot needed at all levels is because anyone can learn it. Whether you’re a junior just learning the game or an older recreational player, it is a fun shot to practice.
Some shots in tennis require an individual to be of a certain size to effectively hit. By this, I mean they require more forearm strength or power in general to utilize. This is not at all the case with a drop shot. The drop shot is all about tactics. It isn’t something you’ll repeatedly hit, but when you do, you’ll need to make sure everything from the preparation to the grip to the follow through is correct!
With any shot in tennis, I recommend you evaluate your opponent first. A player that moves well may require you to add a little power to get a winner past them. Similarly, when opposing someone that’s not as fleet-of-foot, it may be wise to try a drop shot. Slower players are typically going to be ones that rely on power for their game. They want to hit a big serve and end the point quickly. Assuming you’re able to return the initial serve and get in a little bit of a rally, the drop shot then comes into play. As you keep them behind the baseline, you’ll eventually be able to bust out the drop shot. Although I’ll break down the basics of the shot itself, the reason why it is so effective in these situations is because it keeps the opposition off-balance. They are not quick enough to rush in and return it. In the cases where they do manage to get it back over the net, you have all of that court to hit an easy lob for the point.
There are two primary grips capable of being used when hitting a drop shot. Both of these are hit with an open racket face. The first of these is an Eastern Grip. This grip is often most comfortable for beginners, due to the ease of it. Additionally, I encourage players to employ the Eastern Grip for forehand shots. It is not designed to withstand longer rallies, but does allow for a timeless transition to the second grip, Continental, which is an effective backhand tool.
In order to understand the grips, you need to look at the bottom of your racket like an octagon, with 8 bevels. The top is termed “1” and they continue clockwise going up to “8.” The palm side of the index finger’s knuckle will be placed on the “3” for righties or “7” for lefties with an Eastern Grip. It should and will feel like a normal grip. Conversely, with the Continental Grip, you’ll want your hands in a manner that can create enough backspin to get the ball over the net. Hence, you’ll have that base knuckle of the index finger on bevel “2.” In addition to using it for backhand drop shots, it can be utilized for volleys and hits closer to the net as well.
Contact and Follow Through
With hitting the drop shot, you’ll want to make a softer swing than a traditional groundstroke. The point of contact should be at waist level. In total, the swing will start high before coming closer to the waist level. With a small bend of your elbow, this will give the ball enough air to get over the net while preventing a high bounce on the other side. This swing pattern creates backspin that essentially takes velocity off the shot.
Once you’ve hit the ball, the follow through should maintain this open racket face. In actuality, there shouldn’t be much of a follow through at all. The goal of an effective drop shot is take all the speed off the ball. If you put together a strong follow through, this can completely alter the goal. As you could probably tell in this explanation, the drop shot does have many interlocking concepts with a standard volley. With this being the case, it can be helpful to study both. This video from Cosmin Miholca on CoachTube provides some helpful information on the volleying side of it.
As is the case with any shot, you need to be ready for the return. Although the primary mission of the drop shot is to prevent your opposition from even returning it back over the net, you’ve still got to be prepared. After completely finishing the shot, I recommend taking a step or two back to the baseline. If they do manage to return it, chances are it could be going anywhere. Put yourself in a position where you’re not susceptible to an easy point. If they are successful in a return, you’re in a great position to hit a lob for a winner. This is most likely your best option with them being at the net, but you could always opt to power it through them. It’s your call!
Nearly every sport I’ve ever participated in can be defined as a chess match. You always want to feel like you’ve got a hand up on your opposition. Tennis is no different. There are so many different shots that you can add to your arsenal to ensure you’re well-prepared. The drop shot is yet another possibility. Due to its unique nature, I don’t encourage hitting it too frequently. It should be a tool that you have in your back pocket to pull out when your opponent may be struggling to move around or even if you’re starting to get tired of strong groundstrokes from behind the baseline. The key is to not let them know what’s coming until you actually hit the ball. Don’t reveal your intentions until you’re ready to hit. Otherwise, they’ll cheat up and be given an easy winner.
Returning a Drop Shot
Just as it’s important for you to add a drop shot to your bag of tricks, you also need to be aware that your opponents may pull it out as well. My best advice for returning a drop shot is to give them some of their own medicine. After they hit the drop shot, they may retreat a step or two. Since you’ll be in a rush towards the net to try to get a racket on the ball, I encourage players to simply tap a short shot back over the net. Don’t give them time to think of the point-winning shot. Make an instinctive play and win the point yourself!
Practice, Practice, Practice!
As with every aspect of tennis, it is best for young players to get out there and work on their game. You can read all of the information and watch all the instructional videos you want, but until you actually practice these different shots, you can’t master them. The drop shot isn’t an incredibly difficult shot to learn. However, it does require correct timing and the intelligence required to understand when and where it can be most effective.
Ever heard the quote about sports being like a chess match? Well, the truth is that this statement holds true for both team and individual sports. Although tennis can be played with a teammate, it is a sport that is also commonly participated in through singles matches. Between playing strategies and handling the many ups and downs of a match, players looking to raise the level of their overall game need to be mentally strong. This article will discuss some of the elements that go into being an elite mental player.
True Mental + Physical Game
“Tennis is mostly mental. Of course, you must have a lot of physical skill, but you can’t play tennis well and not be a good thinker. You win or lose the match before you even go out there.” This observation comes from one of my favorite tennis players of all-time, Venus Williams. At one time, Venus was one of, if not the most, dominant female tennis players on the world. Unfortunately, health conditions have forced her to adjust her playing strategy. No longer can she keep overpowering her opponents for multiple sets in a row. She has been forced to adopt a more measured, strategic approach to her game. Tennis is mental and physical. You can’t have one without the other and expect to be effective. Numerous times I’ve seen players with incredible physical attributes get beat by less physically talented players that are more in tune with the mental aspects of the game. A good balance of mental and physical focus is vital to one’s success in Tennis.
Tennis can be a difficult game to master depending on how interested you are in it. With this said, concentration can become a major road block depending on how immersed you are in the sport. First off, I’ll start with the matches. Depending on the age level, matches can vary from a couple of games to multiple sets. As a result, they can drag on for longer periods of time with little opportunity to relax. Along with this, momentum can easily change over the course of a match. You must retain concentration for the entirely of the match to prevent lapses. One thing I’ve found to be useful in this process is to treat every point like a new challenge. It’s easy to take a couple points off if you get ahead by two or three breaks of serve. However, this is where momentum changes hands.
The second area where concentration is critical is during practice sessions. Practice is the perfect time to repeatedly practice the shots you’ve been struggling with. If the backhand has been a weak spot, you don’t just hit it a couple of times until the swing looks good. You must find out the correct motion and hit it time-after-time. For some, this can be a boring process, but it is the only way to truly master the overall sport.
As I mentioned in the introduction, tennis is a game of constant adjustments. Players carefully analyze their opponents in the early parts of a game to gauge their strengths and weaknesses. Unless you have the immense physical tools to just hit it past them time and time again, then you need to make careful adjustments from a mental side of things. One of the most important mental skills to achieving victory in tennis is learning to be a problem solver on the court. Every player has tendencies. Whether you recognize them or not, you have tendencies, just as your teammates and opponents do. Some of these may be easily exploited. It is your job as a mentally elite player to make your tendencies less noticeable and take advantage of those exhibited by your opponent.
Understand the Rules
If you truly want to improve your skills in a sport, it is crucial to be an expert on the rules. I understand this can be difficult for beginners, but it doesn’t take long to master them. If you have some free time, pick up a book to read the basics. This will help you understand some of the general terminology, as well as the difference between singles and doubles. To add to this knowledge, I suggest watching tennis on T.V. Here you’ll be able to carefully observe the scoring, player’s behaviors and the rules of the game in action. Of course, through the first hand experience you’ll gain as you play more matches, you’ll be able to rattle off the rules without even thinking twice!
Passion for the Game
One mental skill that doesn’t take a lot of thinking or mental intelligence is motivation, or a love for the game. If you’re going to put in the work to be a great tennis player, a passion for the sport is essential. Players with this passion are not only more likely to put in the extra work to get better, but won’t give up easily in games. They won’t let an early deficit discourage them and will continue to battle. This is the type of mental attitude that makes a strong opponent.
Picture this: you get up 4 games to 0 in a best of 3 set match. Obviously, this is an ideal situation for the leader as he or she has all but locked up the first set. However, the player on the other side of the net looks intrinsically motivated and not even rattled one bit. Although the first set may be nearing its end, the player trailing is going to give it their all to either come back on the first set or try to gain some momentum for the rest of the match. Isn’t it easy to see how this opponent would be tougher and more intimidating than one that would just phone it in after the early hole?
There are so many different shots you can hit in a tennis match. From a slice to forehand to smash to so many others, the opportunities are almost endless. With this being the case, you can’t be hesitant to try new shots or even different playing styles as a whole. If you see someone else playing in a manner that intrigues you, don’t hesitate to incorporate that into your own game. From a different perspective on saying no to fear, you’ll most likely find yourself matched up with some opponents that are simply more talented. Whether it be having endless stamina or an elite serve, these players appear to be unbeatable. The best way to be resilient against them is by adjusting your playing style.
For example: I’ll take the player with the huge serve. Based on their style, it isn’t going to be wise to stand on or inside the baseline even if that is what you would typically do that against an opponent. Rather, take a step or two back and give yourself plenty of room. Generally, big servers aren’t the most fleet-of-foot. Under this assumption, the best strategy would be to get the first return over and then look to extend the match. It all comes down to breaking down your opponent’s game early on!
(Because I mentioned the variety of shots available in a tennis match, I’ve included a link to a video from CoachTube. It is taught by Oscar Wegner and essentially shot-by-shot goes through the most common shots. Check it out if you’re new to one!)
Decisive, yet Cautious
Players that aren’t decisive often get themselves into positions where their opponent can guess where the return is coming. The take-away message from this final section is to make a decision and go with it, but keep in mind the situation. If you’re in need of a winner and your opponent leaves the cross court side open, go for it! Sometimes the tougher shot is what is needed to alter the course of a match. On the other hand, there are also times where caution needs to be exercised. It all goes back to the idea of knowing the situation. If your opponent has been erratic time and time again, then doesn’t it make sense to take the safe approach and force them to beat you? Sometimes all you need to do is return the serve to give yourself a reasonable chance at the point.
Student of the Game
If you truly want to become a mentally strong tennis player, you need to become a student of the game. There are plenty of players that possess the excellent physical tools needed to excel on the tennis court. However, this is only half the game. Throughout this article, I’ve delved deeper into a few of the mental aspects of Tennis. Between passion, aggression, tennis intelligence, and concentration, there are many areas where a stronger mental approach can give you the upper hand!
- By Oscar Wegner
Recent finding and reports from chiropractic doctors specializing in tennis medicine has revealed the damaging effects of using neutral and closed stances versus open stance. The results being discovered in these reports have been astounding!
Here is one doctor's opinion on the subject in an interview with Oscar Wegner, Founder of Modern Tennis Methodology:
"From a chiropractic perspective, the neutral stance is an inferior way of hitting groundstrokes.
For a right-handed player, when he braces to hit a forehand by placing his right leg behind his left leg while shifting his body weight from his back leg to his front bent knee, the fatigue of repetition or an extreme stretch is likely to subluxate (slip slightly out of joint) the right sacro-iliac joint causing a series of normal but painful bio-mechanical compensations.
In a typical situation, one can expect the right ilium to shift posterior, the right hamstring to tighten, the fifth lumbar vertebrae to rotate, and the paravertebral and gluteal muscles on the right side to spasm.
In due time, the player may expect a right hamstring pull, lower back pain, and possible involvement of the lumbo-sacral plexus on the left side of the pelvis with radiating nerve pain into the left leg.
Additionally, the continual transference of weight to a bent front knee, especially when placing the knee into a deep bend or when the front foot is not directly in line with the force vectors generated by the forehand swing, is likely to cause knee pain and eventual knee injury.
Again, imagine doing this for about 100 times in the course of an hour, or 100 times in an hour of tennis. No wonder so few adults are still playing tennis. Tennis is a wonderful game and should provide a lifetime of fun when played with bio-mechanical correctness. My most serious advice is: listen to Oscar."
–Dr. Carl Barniak, Chiropractor
- By Brandon
Tennis great Billie Jean King once said, “Tennis is a perfect combination of violent action taking place in an atmosphere of total tranquility.” Despite the game’s evolution, this quote from King is still valid. Tennis is an ever-changing contest with consistent principles. In recent years, the game of tennis has not only changed in terms of style of play, but the complete globalization of the sport. Increasingly, players are popping up from all around the world looking to prove they’re an elite player.
Student of the Game
Learning from the Best: One of the concepts that stuck out to me during the interview with Bruce was his time training under Harry Hopman. While not every young player can receive the guidance of an individual like Mr. Hopman, it is important to have a knowledgeable coach. Hopman would go on to coach many other tennis greats, including John McEnroe. Even the greatest players in the game are humble enough to employ former greats as their personal coaches, as evidenced by Novak Djokovic hiring Boris Becker.
Paying It Forward: Many of the attributes Bruce learned from Hopman have been passed on to Bruce’s students. As the Director of Tennis at Westward Look, Bruce is looking to make both young and older players aware of the trends in the game. Even though you can learn a lot about tennis from game-practice, being around other players and hearing tips from veterans can go a long way towards developing one’s game. Mr. Connors’ actions have effectively passed on the legacy of Harry Hopman.
Another area that Bruce is extremely passionate about is cardio tennis. Described as “a high energy fitness activity that combines the best features of the sport of tennis with cardiovascular exercise, delivering the ultimate, full body, calorie burning aerobic workout,” cardio tennis is one of the focal points of Mr. Connors’ new position at Westward Look. The importance of endurance in tennis can’t be understated. If a player isn’t able to keep their energy up for an entire match, chances are they’ll start to struggle after the first set. The unique thing about cardio tennis is it can be utilized for anyone looking to improve their overall fitness and fine-tune the technical aspects of tennis.
I recently caught up with Bruce Connors to break down some of these trends.
Brandon Ogle: First off, would you mind telling us a little about your new position as Director of Tennis at Westward Look?
Bruce Connors: I am privileged to be working in such beautiful surroundings at Tucson’s first resort. My goal is to improve on programming and to promote all that Westward Look has to offer as a resort and members’ club.
BO: Could you briefly discuss the cardio tennis trend and the benefits it could provide to young tennis players? Who would you recommend to take on cardio tennis?
BC: Cardio tennis describes a type of clinic in which the participants achieve an aerobic workout as well as a focus on the fundamentals of tennis. Every instructor has his or her unique style and lesson plan; therefore, each class has its own distinctive feel. The key to a successful class is when the participants feel as though they have had a physical workout while they worked on the basics of their game. Cardio tennis is beneficial to all players – both young and old. It helps young players increase their endurance.
BO: Would you say cardio tennis should be used in addition to playing regular tennis or do you see cardio tennis becoming much more popular than playing standard singles/doubles matches for practice?
BC: Cardio tennis is to tennis as, for example, spinning is to cycling – it’s a workout as well as a way to improve one’s game. It does not replace match play. Competing in matches verses training in a clinic is very different. Simply put, a player tends to be more relaxed in a drill situation when the results are not as big of a factor.
BO: After watching some of the majors in recent years, do you notice any trends in styles of play that juniors should take note of?
BC: The physicality of the game has escalated along with the racquet and string technology, thus making tennis more powerful than ever. Perhaps the reintroduction of the serve and volley should be a trend to which juniors should take note.
BO: As of this current moment, American tennis is struggling on a national level, particularly on the men’s side. What do you think needs to be done to help even out this separation? Is it just a result of not enough Americans being interested in tennis in their youth or something else?
BC: Unfortunately American tennis has lost some ground as far as the world ranks are concerned. The European countries have invested a lot in their tennis development programming, geared toward aspiring young talent. On the other hand, American youth have so many other sports and recreation choices, not to mention non-athletic entertainment options, leading to a lack of drive for tennis in some circumstances.
BO: Since grass and clay courts aren’t as common in the United States, how would you recommend players prepare themselves for these surfaces in case they do get placed in a tournament on clay or grass?
BC: In order to prepare for softer playing surfaces when those surfaces are not readily available in practice situations, the shots that are utilized more effectively on those surfaces can be modified for the hard court. Putting spins on the ball, thereby mixing up play, would be an example of a technique that is useful on clay and grass, but that can also be incorporated into hard court play.
BO: What was your favorite surface to play on and why did it intrigue you?
BC: The answer to that question depends on the match and on the opponent. I enjoy clay surface due to the variety of shot-making options. Angles, drop shots, and lobs make use of more on the clay court. On the other hand, hard surfaces tend to be more linear, complimenting more aggressive serve and volley play.
BO: While other sports like basketball have programs such as AAU to showcase talents, what is there available for young tennis players to do the same and gain attention of college recruiters?
BC: The junior ranking system still gives college coaches a good amount of information on players and tournament results, giving insight to recognize rising talent.
BO: Having played collegiately at the University of Arizona in the 1980s, do you think the collegiate tennis world has changed much since then?
BC: I would say, as the game itself has evolved, inevitably so has collegiate tennis. A college match has always consisted of six singles and three doubles matches. In order to quicken play and make matches more spectator-friendly, the playing of let serves and the eight-game pro-set for doubles were introduced in the mid-90s.
BO: From watching younger players compete, I’ve noticed one thing they often have difficulty with is mastering the serve. Do you have a few pieces of advice to simplify the process of learning to serve?
BC: The serve hasn’t changed much in form. Keeping the motions smooth and tossing to the swing are key, as well as working on timing and racquet speed. The classic figure of eight motion will help any player understand fluidity of motion. A consistent toss is a must.
(For some additional information on learning how to serve, CoachTube offers some terrific courses for serving tips. One great resource is Serve in 30! by Lisa Dodson.)
BO: In today’s game, it seems like there is a dying breed of pure serve and volley players. Why do you think this trend has occurred; and, as an instructor, would you still encourage players to add this approach to their arsenal?
BC: Every player’s goal should be to have a well-rounded game. Serve and volley is one aspect of this; and, it can be very useful to change the pace in a match. One reason it may not be used as often now is there is so much power in the game that it is harder to approach the net.
BO: Have you ever dealt with an injury or seen a teammate rehab from a major injury? How would you describe the overall process and the struggle to get back on the court?
BC: I have been fortunate to not have had any serious injuries. Prevention of injury by proper strength training and stretching routines is beneficial. Knee problems are a common issue among club players. Rehabbing can take time and requires dedication, so primary prevention is paramount. Getting back on the court after an injury can be as much of a mental struggle as it is physical.
BO: Having trained with the great Harry Hopman as a junior, could you briefly discuss the importance that a quality coach brings to a player’s development? What would you say to parents who are looking for coaches available for their son or daughter?
BC: The method that Mr. Hopman utilized emphasized fitness over stroke production. What works for one player may not work for another player. I do remember one piece of advice he routinely gave in training drills. He would say, “If you can get to the ball that is out, you should be able to get to the one that is in.” We all have different personalities, so finding the right coach who knows how to motivate the inner drive of a player is the goal.
BO: As a player who has gone through the ranks of the tennis world, what would you say is the most difficult thing you’ve had to deal with as a tennis player?
BC: To be completely honest, the thought of not having reached my potential as a player due to circumstances in my life beyond my control at certain times still tortures me.
BO: Lastly, do you think we’re witnessing the greatest male (Roger Federer) and female (Serena Williams) players of all time?
BC: My opinion is that Roger Federer exemplifies the model to which a tennis player should strive – as a player and as a person. Serena Williams has developed such an outstanding persona both on and off the court. Surely they both merit a place in history as players at the top of their sport.
Thank you to Mr. Connors for participating in this interview and feel free to check out Westward Look for more information on the resort.
“The rule in life is like with tennis: One point won’t lose you the match, but if you let it get to you, it will.”
This tennis quote is one I always urge young tennis players to take to heart. When playing tennis, you can’t be afraid to take chances. If you are consistently hitting the ball right back towards the center of the court, the game becomes monotonous for yourself and easy for your opponent. Once a player knows what their opponent is trying to do, there are no secrets anymore. A cross-court shot can be one of many plays to keep them guessing.
More Court to Aim For
It may not always seem this way, but on a standard tennis court there is a lot of room to hit at. With this said, one of my top reasons for hitting cross-court shots is to take advantage of this open real estate. When you hit one straight down the line, there isn’t a whole lot of room for error. However, this distance increases when you look for cross-court shots. This difference is even greater when you take the floor for a doubles match. Even though this point may sound a little elementary, it can pay significant dividends for the mental aspect of a match. When you realize that you have a few extra feet when opting to hit it cross-court rather than down the line, isn’t it safe to say you might attempt these shots more often?
Change Arm Angles
In order to hit cross-court shots consistently, you have to adopt a different contact point and alignment than the one used for down the line shots. If you keep both of these the same, then you’re merely hitting cross-court shots by changing the swing angle with your wrist. When you do this, it becomes difficult to hit accurate shots consistently and thus unforced errors will start to grow in numbers. The best way to prevent this from happening is to change the contact point. Naturally, players will hit in-front inside balls to the cross court. Meanwhile, balls that are farther back and away from your body will tend to go down the line. With this known, the best way to hit cross-court shots is to position yourself so you’ll hit the ball a little earlier and closer in to the body. Proceeding in this approach will allow you to hit cross courts efficiently and effectively.
Occasionally a cross-court shot will take the form of a volley. CoachTube provides videos designed to help players master this skill.
Disguise Your Shot
In a decent amount of the sports articles I’ve written, I always discuss this concept of ‘deception.’ Athletes are constantly trying to get an idea of what their opponent is thinking. If you are able to do this, you’re in a position of always being a step ahead. You know what move is coming before it happens. If your opponent is successful in breaking down your game, your chances of a victory quickly diminish. That is why you need to cleverly disguise your intentions. This applies perfectly for the difference between cross-court and down the line shots. While I’ll break down this difference later, you don’t want your opponent to know, based on your alignment, whether the ball is going cross-court or down the line.
It is not recommended that you try to disguise all your shots, because it can lead to a loss in maximum power caused by overthinking. When you do find an opportunity to hit cross-court, you will align yourself as if you’re going for a down the line shot to deceive your opponent. Then position yourself a little further from the ball, and just as you begin the swing, start to pull yourself in and complete the cross-court. Like I mentioned, don’t try to disguise all of your shots, or else you will end up affecting your game in a negative way. The best advice is to only try to disguise the ones where you have extra time. Your opponent is already in a bad position if you have a decent amount of time to make the return, but this can ultimately finish the point!
As a tennis player myself, I understand the value that can be had from getting in a rhythm. Particularly when it’s your service game, you can quickly get in a groove when you’re getting your shots in. This can be further exemplified when your opponent isn’t putting a lot of pressure on you. When they’re simply hitting returns straight down the court, the game comes much easier. Cross-court shots are not only smarter shots, but they allow you to play to the weaknesses of your opponent. The majority of players are either going to be weaker with their forehand or backhand. During the early stages of the game, you need to find out which. Then, as the match progresses, you can consistently hit to their weak side, even when it requires a cross-court shot. This will keep them on-guard and hopefully prevent any momentum from occurring.
Comparison Between Down-the-Line Shots and Cross-Court
In tennis, there are two primary types of passing shots: down-the-line and cross-court. A passing shot is essentially a groundstroke that makes the opposing player move to their right or left. A down-the-line never crosses the centerline and goes in a parallel direction of where the player is standing. Meanwhile, the cross-court shot crosses the centerline and goes from the left to right or vice versa.
If you intend on hitting a down-the-line shot off a cross-court, it requires a great deal of force. This is because you have to redirect the ball in a different direction. In addition, it helps to move your body into the ball and align properly so the wrists won’t be doing all the work. When you hit a cross-court shot, you run into similar issues. It is vital to position yourself appropriately to prevent any inconsistencies. Cross-courts require a hit that is more in front. Understanding how to position yourself is vital to hitting consistently on all passing shots.
Take Advantage and Capitalize
Cross-court shots tend to be safer with the additional court to aim for. Even if you might be hesitant to hit cross-court often, I recommend slowing working it into your game. Excelling at tennis is largely centered on one’s ability to develop an all-around game. Just like a baseball pitcher, the more tools you have in your arsenal, the better player you’ll be. Hitting cross-court is yet another one of these tools every player should know.