Learning how to control the center of the court could change your game dramatically. And the best part is, you don’t need to be a power player, or super accurate, you simply need to be aware of what the strategy is.
How to Control the Center of the Court – Takeaways
- Hit crosscourt to stay in control
- Don’t hit back to the middle if you’re in the middle
- Don’t hit down the line on the run unless it’s a winner
- Look for that short ball to transition into net and finish the point
- You don’t always want to recover to the middle of the court, you want to recover to the middle of your opponents next shot.
- Don’t think you should always hit to your opponents weakness, that will pull you out of your comfort zone and make you hit low priority shots
So what exactly does “control the center of the court” mean? Well, to put it as short and simply as possible, it means when you’re playing points, your opponent is doing the running and hitting low percentage shots, while you are hitting high percentage shots and doing much less running than your opponent.
Sounds like a great way to play a match right? But how do you get your opponent out of position and make your targets larger and your opponents smaller? The answer comes from examining the geometry of the court and incorporating that with the obstacle called the net. By understanding the geometry of the court better than your opponent, you can move your opponents while maintaining safety on your shots, all without being more powerful, more accurate or even more consistent than your opponent.
The Master of Controlling the Center of the Court
Andre Agassi built his career off being an aggressive baseliner and knowing how to make his opponents run. More recent pros who are notable at doing this are Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer, but in my opinion, Andre Agassi was the best at it. Go on YouTube and watch Andre Agassi play some points, watch how much he runs verse his opponent. He wasn’t known for his speed, or even his power, but when his opponents stepped on court with him, they knew who would be doing the running.
So let’s learn how to control the center of the court. There are so many components to controlling the center of the court it can’t possibly be covered in one article. However, you can learn a lot just by understanding the middle of the court. If the ball comes to your forehand and you and your opponent are both standing at the middle of the court (just inside the baseline, you have the option of hitting the ball to your opponents forehand, right at him, or his backhand. The lowest percentage shot is hitting it to his backhand, because given your options the ball will go over the highest part of the net and will have the shortest amount of court on your opponent’s side. Hitting the ball back at your opponent only gives him the opportunity to pull you wide. Therefore, given this scenario, the best shot here is to return a forehand cross court to your opponent. Why? Because the ball will travel past the lowest part of the net, have more court to bounce in and your opponent will be pulled wide. But….
Here is the Key
Most club players make the mistake of thinking that staying in the center of the court is the best place to recover from a shot. This is not true. If you want to control the center of the court you have to recover to what would be the middle range of your opponents next shot.
Stand in the center of the court and try to hit deep and as close to the baseline as possible hitting over the low part of the net. If you can hit accurate shots at least half the time, where your shots are deep and near the line, you would be considered an aggressive baseliner.
So now you know the very basics on how to control the center of the court. If this topic is interesting to you, feel free to search Google and Youtube for more information, there is a lot more to learn, but mastering it will change your game forever.