Every top player on the pro tour plays from the baseline. It’s about power, stamina and accuracy – find out how to achieve all 3.
The 2 shots you’ll need to perfect as a baseline player are the:
- Cross-court where you hit the ball diagonally across the court
- Down-the-line 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. They’re hit hard and deep, as both players shimmy across the baseline from one side to the other.
There are 2 types of baseline players though: defensive counter-punchers and aggressive shot-makers.
If you’re fast and agile, this is the style of play for you. It’s about using your greater 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.
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 mesmerised 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 deep and a little higher than usual –your opponent then has to wait longer to play their shot.
If baseline is your number 1 style of play, you’ll need a pair of shoes that are stable and built for moving side to side.