3 Tips to Improving Anticipation

The opponent will tell you the story before they hit the ball to you. Understanding cues and habits from your opponents will allow you to anticipate the shot coming to you, move quicker to the ball and help make your decisions more efficiently. 

Recreational players tend to watch only the ball, while Tournament and Experienced players watch the opponent and the ball.

Check out the video compilation below of the best ATP Anticipation Shots

Here are 3 tips to help you improve your Anticipation

1. Watching Your Opponents Swing Pattern

As mentioned above, the best players are watching their opponent to tell them the story.

There are several cues professional players look out for when playing their opponent:

  • Stance – open, semi-open, neutral, closed. Different stances allow the player to hit certain shots.
  • Racquet Face – open, straight, closed. Different racquet faces mean different spins, speed and trajectories.
  • Contact Point – late, early, on time. Hitting it late will cause a weak shot or down the line shot.
  • Swing Pattern – low to high, high to low, compact or big swing. Usually represents the type of shot they are trying to hitting.
  • Balance – do they look loaded and balanced as they are about to hit their shot, or are they stretching and their body looks awkward. 

All of these combined represents the story the opponent is telling you. Practicing this takes time, and something you master over the years. 

2. Game Situations

Having “Game Sense” and adjusting to the ball is what tennis is all about. There are only a select few choices you can make when you are hitting your shot. 

A high trajectory ball with a lot of spin, lands deep and pushes you back behind the baseline 3 metres means you cannot attack on that ball – you must adjust accordingly to that shot and decide how you want to hit it back.

This time the ball is high but lands short in the court and you can move 3 metres inside the baseline – you can be aggressive and hit to the corners. 

Experienced players have an understanding of what to expect back from certain shots and scenarios.

3. Opponents Habits And Patterns Of Play

What is your opponents favourite shot? What is your opponent’s weakness? What’s their favourite serve to hit on a pressure point?

Understanding our opponent we’re playing can help us set up a game plan against them, and also counter attack them when needed. We can move to the ball quicker and make quicker decisions as we know what to expect from them.

Everyone knows Nadal likes to attack Roger Federer’s backhand – what’s important is how Roger uses this information. 

Anticipation takes years of practice, constantly practicing until it becomes an unconscious habit. A bit like chess – you want to think a few steps when anticipating. Speak to your coach about how you can practice anticipating. To read the full article written by Tennisgate click here.

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