Learn some golden rules of playing modern tennis

Golden Rules of playing singles plus drills to practice these rules:

1. A player rallies cross court and attacks down the line

1. Attack all mid-court balls, except sharper angles that put a player under some pressure.

2. Only attack down the line on deep balls if you are in position early and feel no pressure on the ball i.e. you can dominate the ball. (This explains why weight of shot is so important).

3. Never approach from playing outside the inside sideline. (Show from behind)

Disciplines: Percentage tennis means sticking to the rules 80-90% of the time. Experience and talent is expressed by players who know when to take the risk of when to wrong-foot an opponent.

Drill: Rally cross-court, then call "now" when there is a no-pressure ball that one player can attack.

Do: Forehand and backhand side.

Exceptions: Opponent has a specific tendency.

2. Know where to aim your returns

How closely a player sticks to the rules depends on how much pressure the server puts him/her under.
1. Wide serves require across-court returns.
2. T Serves require down-the-line returns.

Exceptions: If a player is reading serves well and getting in position early then the player will be able to choose where to return.


1. Go through each position allowing players a chance to groove the directions.
2. Open it out for them to feel.

3. Always be positive returning 2nd serves

Stand in and take away the opponent’s time. Find a position to return between waist and shoulder height.

4. Defensive aggression

Stand way back and hit high and hard, or sharp and hard with spin and plenty of angle (mostly on slower courts).


1. Return high deep topspin returns aiming mostly towards middle of the court.
2. Return wide serves across court and with lots of fizz. (This style of returning is the least preferred option of returning).


5. Serve and Volley ==> defend the percentage returns

Exceptions: Serve not good enough to specific area which allows opponent to dominate the ball, therefore able to change direction easily.
Opponent has a specific tendency to aim in one direction most of the time (three out of four times should ring some alarm bells).

6. Defending under pressure

Defend high, deep and cross-court under pressure or to the middle of the court. Deep slice backhand also good. Both of these are subject to playing someone who does not cut in and take these shots on the volley.
If you play someone who sneaks into net:
1. Lob
2. Play down the line safely, occasionally taking a massive risk and smacking the ball down line
NB: If you are breaking the rules of percentage tennis monitor carefully your rate of success. As it lowers, lower your risk level.

7. When you sneak in

Do it fast and get the ball as close to the net as possible and always try to volley down.

8. Passing shots

The first one should go mostly down the line with spin dipping the ball.
1. Cross court with lots of spin dipping down at the feet.
2. Hit firm and hard into the open space if a fairly large space presents itself.
3. If you are cramped or running forward for a low ball in the middle of the court, then hit with spin right at your opponent.
Attitude: Hit to places not past players. Lifting the head is the most common mental error.

9. Volleys

Try short cut-offs when possible back behind your opponent, when faced with a difficult volley.
by David Sammel


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