August 1, 2016
Your opponent has just hit a ball to force you on the run as you hit your forehand. Your disappointed shriek tells the story as you watch the ball fly well pass the baseline. The question is not how you hit it out but why you hit it out. You practice how you play but that is not deep enough of an analysis to get to the root of the matter. Let’s take a look.
As I watched Novak Djokovic (the #1 player this year) play a match, I would often guess when he would hit a more aggressive ball to end the point or at least put his opponent in a difficult position. “Now!” I would shout right before he hit his forehand inside the baseline but I was most often wrong in my prediction. What I realized is that Novak rarely went for a put-a-way until there was very little risk. The point of this observation is that his style of play relates to his physical and mental conditioning. He can physically stay on the court longer than anyone else, making his style of play make complete sense as he does not need to add risk to his game due to his off court conditioning. His mental strength is the same, allowing him to hit as many balls needed to win the point.
Have you analyzed your game and see if it relates well with your physical and mental strength? For example, I recently did a hitting lesson with a 4.0 who is trying to move up to the next level. After a few minutes, it became apparent that his aggressive and high-risk game was due to his lack of off court conditioning. To put it in perspective, for every ball he would hit pass me he would hit 5 long or into the net. When we worked on developing a rally ball, it was diff