Little has been told on what players think about during different situations that every player runs into. For example, ever wonder what would be a good thing to focus on if you are running for a out-wide forehand under pressure? I'm no pro but I have some things that might help you improve your ability to play well throughout your match. Let's take a look at a few situations that all players are in at least a few times during a match.
Put Away Volley: Players tend to freeze when this happens, making them use their upper body too much. This is usually due to a lack of confidence since the player has not practiced this shot nearly enough. Try to think "step into the ball" when you see these sitters. If you can use your legs on the soft shots you will create power that won't sacrifice accuracy. Remember, the closer you get to the net the more court you get to hit into, making it easier to get the ball in!
Overhead: Reach! The only way to do this is to relax and let your arm naturally extend out to hit the ball. The higher your contact point, the bigger "window" you can hit the ball in and still get it in.
First Serve Return: Assuming you don't have time to move more than a step before the ball gets to you, think wide stance and put your back foot behind the ball. See the video below for details.
Second Serve Return: Hitting a softer second serve can lead to over hitting or just a tendency to freeze a bit. Think "move after the bounce." Meaning on a first serve we really do not have much time to take more than one quick step to the ball and that is usually before the ball even bounces. In second serves, I see players do that a lot, leaving them in a position to ineffectively hit the return back. Remember you have plenty of time after the second serve bounces in the service box to allow you to make subtle changes and increase the chances of hitting a good return.
Hitting a Serve Under Pressure: Before you toss the ball, look up and focus on the contact point that has to happen for a good serve. Toss the ball in that area and go up and get it. Many times players who double fault "see it coming." Put thoughts in your head that you can focus on. Saying "get the ball in" would not be one of them!
On the Run Under Pressure: Relaaaaax. We tend to tighten up on the run but the racquet must be lose in your hand to allow for racquet head speed, which gives topspin and more control. Also focus on getting your back leg behind the ball.
Low and Short Ball: If you're running forward and not able to stop, you should be thinking "get it in" as this is a tough ball to be aggressive with. Usually hitting a slice ball back as you're running forward will give you the amount of control needed to do this. If you can get to the ball and stop moving, then trust your swing while staying low. If you think you're getting low, get lower. You should be low before and after you take a swing at the ball.
High Looping Ball: Ask yourself, can I let the ball drop to my waist without me getting driven back to the fence? If so, that might be your best bet but if you cannot, you need to step into the ball and hit in on the rise. It's a tough shot if you haven't practiced it. Tell yourself to just trust the swing and if your timing is correct, the ball will be hit well.
A Long Rally: Long rallies can be fun but not when you end up hitting an easy shot in the net or long. Focus on stepping into every ball and give yourself margin on each shot. Meaning, don't go for the lines!
Want to hit better first and second serve returns? Check out the tutorial below!