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I want to improve my tennis toughness & play more aggressively - any tips?

I used to play on clay court for 20 years, now it's been two years that I've been exposed to hard court. About my game: I have a very good technique on all my strokes including volley, good kick serve, I am 192 cm. My issue: I was not taught to play aggressively, now in my matches I don't take the net; consequently, in spite of executing a high level tennis, I loose to some players that I never should. I've read some tennis mental toughness books, I teach them, but I don't know how can I change my own mental set. When I hit top spin (groundies), I enjoy and feel secure, even though it results in my loss and sorrow. I'm ready for change but how?

I'm not a tennis player, so take my advise with a grain of salt, but i have been involved in sport for almost 40 years (i'm 42), with the sport i love being netball, which i have been playing for over 30 (and currently still playing).  now i play in a div 1 team but still only socially.  i also have been a coach for the last 10 years in various competitive sports (trampolining, cheerleading, and netball), and i have found that the main key to success in any of these sports is attitude.  if you want it more than anyone else then your drive from within will get you there.  from what you have written, you sound like you are a nice guy, but nice guys don't win in sport.  you have to have, as you say, aggression.  i teach my kids this in their sports.  particularly in netball.  the reason you intercept, jump higher, run faster, stretch more, is that drive to want that ball more than your opponent.  same goes for you in tennis.  the drive to return that ball has to come from within you.  when i play against a tough opponent, i play harder and better than if i play some slack person i know i can beat with ease.  it does put me off a little at first, as if you don't have that aggression every time you go on the court then you are waiting to size up your player before determining you effort levels.  maybe if you go onto the court thinking you are playing the number 1 person every time, and even if they are a 10 year old kid, or Federer, then you should be playing at your peak at all times.  me i play for socialising, fun, and exercise, hence why i don't take the court with that attitude, but one of my players does.  it does take the fun out of it though.  so if you are serious about wanting to win, you have to be willing to squash every player you face without guilt, as you are out there for one purpose only.  so maybe what you really need to be asking yourself, is why am i playing?  and if it is to win, then go out there wanting to return the ball with a match winning return.  no Mr nice guys allowed.

Hope that helps.

The same methodologies that you apply on the clay court you can apply to a hard court.  The clay gives us more time to react and get to the ball.  The hard court is obviously quicker which results in less time to react.  From a tennis strategy standpoint, more depth and more topspin will keep you in points and pin your opponent on the baseline.  Eventually they will go for a low percentage shot and either miss or allow you to capitalize.  Try serving and volleying in certain situations like 40 - love or if you are playing an opponent you are crushing.  Working on specific things during a match will make you feel more comfortable.

Good luck!

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  • search our library of 1200+ tennis drills
  • create your own professional coaching plans
  • or access our tried and tested plans