Shot combinations for the power player are almost always in twos, and are not particularly complex. You game is to blast, mix things up just enough not to be completely predictable, but also not overthink. The only way to overpower your opponent is to have more firepower than they can handle. If that’s true, trust your game and keep them on blast. Keep your foot on the accelerator and don’t pump the brakes too much.
Serve Corner Hit To Open Court
When you serve to the corner, you are serving in such a way as to force an error, or maybe get an ace, but you are ready and prepared to take the next ball hard to the other side of the court. Too often, players who wish to be aggressive hard hitting baseliners fail to stay on offense from the second shot onward. It’s as though they are a bit crestfallen that their flat serve didn’t win the point. Another large portion of missed opportunities comes from the ‘consistent rally’ mindset, where the player wants to rally and not miss the S+1, instead of moving aggressively to make the very most of the opportunity presented.
Contingencies are also needed. Even thought you are asserting your power game on the opponent, you need to read instantly if you happen to groove a ball right into their wheelhouse, and now are under attack. This will happen to you more often than the other four styles, because you are providing so much speed for the opponent to use. You don’t want to get caught off guard. So there is an element of quick visual decision making that will occur. You may even notice soon after you hit a ball whether it’s going to be nicely in the opponent’s strike zone. At that moment you can first wait and see if you will be under attack. As soon as you see that you are not under attack, you can instantly shift to see if you are able to attack. Maybe it seems unreasonable, but you should start in attack mode, recognize the risk of counter-attack, then be able to go right back into attack mode. If you are experienced in this way, you know exactly what I mean.
Truly aggressive players can be the hardest to train, and take longer to develop, because they have to have full faith in their abilities, and may make too many errors for a period of time, before they dial in their decision making ability.
I had a player Jason, who had a great first serve, and could hit his forehand like a missile. Sadly, his father was always in his ear to ‘Be Consistent’. I was training Jason to go for his big serve more often and follow it up with a big forehand. He could get off to some blazing fast starts to matches, and then he would make two or three errors in short order, and the mental tapes of his father saying ‘Be Consistent’ would play in his mind, and he would immediately start to spin his serves in and hit a lot more topspin on his shots, thus robbing him of power. Later, his father had him stop coming to me for coaching.
When one of my players faced Jason in high school competition and was quickly down 4-1 in the first set, I reassured my player that if he sliced a few shots, drawing two or three errors in short period of time, that Jason would go non-aggressive. Sure enough my player did exactly that, and won 7-5, 6-2. It’s too bad that Jason and his father could not recognize that he truly was a gifted power player, and become willing to go through a few rough patches, but stick to his guns.
If you only play one pattern, it won’t be long before your opponent understands it, and slowly gets better at defending it, but if you have three or four patterns, and play them with intentionality, then you can keep they off balance just enough to thwart their attempts at defense. Your game removes the most reaction time to begin with, and if you add more think time on their side, you can take that time away as well, but not so much as a pressure time and space player, but as a pure power player that doesn’t allow someone to keep up with your speed.
Serve T, Then Go Behind
The first of the serve to the T combinations serves as a counter to your main ploy of serving corner, then going to the open court. Serve to the T, then go behind the player, and you put them in a bind of having to hit a forehand, then a backhand in a tight space with short time, conversely a backhand then turn around in a tight space to hit a forehand and deal with their power.
Serve T, Then To Opposite Corner
After a few times using this play, when you see the the opponent has begun to cope by turning quickly to make the opposite shot, then you mix one in where they have to make the same shot over again, you can test to see if this catches them off guard.
Serve Body, Then Pick A Corner
This is another bread and butter combination, but you need to make up your mind quickly which corner is best. In general, you will want to take your forehand to their backhand, and almost always you will take your backhand to their backhand, but if there seems like a lot of room on the forehand side, and your opponent does not perform well on running forehands, then you can mix those in more often. However you want to take at least one of your forehands and your backhands to their forehand corner just to prove that you can do it, and force them to respect that shot, even if you arent going to win much more than 50% of those points, it will aid in winning a higher percentage when you are true to the play.
Serve Body, Then Short Angle
This combination requires advanced topspin play, and as (Aussie) calls it the ‘Dip Drive’ this ball is penetrating the court, but landing in front of the service line and can leave the opponent feeling hopeless, but it also has higher risk because it’s lower to the net, and closer to the line. This will be hit with a bit more topspin than you normally hit.
Serve Corner Then Go Behind
This one is the over-thinkers delight. I would only recommend this against the pressure movement player. Against slower players you won’t need it, and you might find that if you do this one too often that all you accomplish is letting the opponent back in the point. With this combination you are not going for a winner, or even a forced error, but simply to keep the opponent honest in their movement, to make it more difficult for them to defend your Serve Corner Opposite Side combination. Don’t over do it. Just get the respect, and go back to playing your power game. You may even decide not to use this tactic if you are winning the match easily. When you are winning easily, it might even be better to simply work on a bit more precision of hitting targets on court.
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