Every top player on the pro tour plays from the baseline and it’s all about power, stamina and accuracy. To achieve all three of these powerhouse advantages, there are two shots you’ll need to perfect.
These shots are the:
- Cross-Court Shot: This is where you hit the ball diagonally across the court
- Down-the-Line Shot: This is where you send the ball right down the court sideline
Watch a professional match today and you’ll get to know these shots very well. When used effectively, players will hit hard and deep, resulting in a fast paced game from one side of the baseline to the other.
And while most pro players play from the baseline, they aren’t necessarily playing it the same way. There are two types of baseline players: defensive counter-punchers and aggressive shot-makers.
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The Two Strategies for Playing the Baseline
If you’re fast and agile, this is the style of play for you. It’s about using your speed to return every ball and extend rallies. You’re waiting for your opponent to become frustrated and make an error – either by hitting the ball out, or misjudging their court position and leaving a big space open.
If the power of your shot is your biggest quality, this is how you should approach baseline play. It’s about hitting hard returns and getting your opponent sprinting along the baseline. Cross-court shots are your main weapon, and it’s the shot you can use to win the point, once you’ve opened up some space.
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Tips for Effective Baseline Strategies
Whether you’re a shot-maker or a counter-puncher – or maybe a bit of both – there are a few tips that apply to all baseline players:
Don’t Get Mesmerized by a Rally
Playing from the baseline can sometimes feel like practice play when both players are happy to hit the ball to each other. You should always stay focused on winning the point.
Think a Few Shots Ahead
Baseline play is a bit like chess – the shot you play now influences your next 4 or 5 shots. If you want to win a point with a cross-court shot, you need to start setting it up a few shots before.
Open up Space with Your Choice of Shots
Winning the point comes from opening up space on the court and placing your shot perfectly. Mix up the shots you play and move your opponent where you want them to go.
Put Pressure on Your Opponent by Coming Forward
You may not be a serve-and-volley player, but coming forward can surprise your opponent and force a mistake. Remember to position yourself so you cut off your opponent’s return options.
Elevate Your Shot if You Need Extra Time
If you’re running off the court, you’ll need time to get back to the middle. You should hit the ball deeper and a little higher than usual –your opponent then has to wait longer to play their shot.
If baseline is your number one style of play, you’ll need a pair of shoes that are stable and built for moving side to side.
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