Today I wanted to give you a little insight into some of the coaching I do on court and recently I have done some specific work on unforced errors.
Unforced errors refer to mistakes made by a player that are not directly caused by the opponent's skill or shot. These errors result from the player's own actions, such as hitting the ball out, into the net, or double faulting on serves. Unforced errors can occur due to poor shot selection, lack of concentration, technical flaws, or simply an off day for the player.
For me, unforced errors must be addressed immediately as without consistency, it’s very hard to win points. The first thing with most errors is the speed of processing the information and the ability to get into the right position. Unless you recognize what type of shot you are about the receive, it is very hard to make sure you anticipate where you need to be to return it. This is why the Team Stony Tennis Coaches spend a lot of time on receiving skills and movement.
Now if you are in the right place at the right time, the next issue may have to do with your body position and racket set up. Have you set your feet in the right position? Have you lowered your body positioning to stabilize? Have you turned your shoulders and hips in time to prepare the racket?
Finally, execution. Have you been able to swing the racket to contact out in front? Have you used the correct path of the racket e.g. swinging forwards and up to hit the ball up over the net? Have you used the correct angle on the strings to generate spin? And have you swung the racket fast or slow enough to get the desired outcome?
After the shot has been made, there is still a lot to do, with correct recovery footwork and positioning based on the shot you have hit, where your opponent is and what shot you anticipate to come back.
As you can see, there is a lot going on and as the speed of the game goes up, you have milliseconds to make these decisions, but this is where good coaching and practice pays off over time.
So let’s look at why you may unnecessarily be hitting the ball out or in the net. There are 4 ball characteristics; speed, spin, height, direction. With a combination of these applied to the ball by the racket will result in the outcome. So here are some quick self analysis answers:
- If you are hitting the ball too deep and over the baseline - you are either hitting it too hard, too high or not enough top spin to dip it in.
- If you are hitting the ball wide and out of the side of the court - you are either creating too much of an angle with the direction, not applying enough spin, hitting too hard.
- If you are hitting the ball in the net or not getting it over the net - you are not getting enough height, hitting the ball too soft, applying too much top spin that’s made it dip too early.
Although we see the pro’s hitting incredible winning shots, the foundations for success are by reducing the unforced errors.
Please let me have your thoughts on this and if you need any help or advice, then please drop me a line.
Director of Tennis