Changing the spin, speed and ball placement

Ask the coachCategory: Tactics & match-playChanging the spin, speed and ball placement
David asked 7 months ago

Common match tactics are to change the spin, pace and placement of the ball. I know changing the ball placement in a rally is good if one can hit deep to the forehand and backhand corners, as well as wide to the forehand and backhand corners, providing one can do it. As far as changing the spin and speed is concerned, is this during a particular rally, assuming the rally goes for several strokes, or is it referring to changing the spin and speed of the ball over consecutive or other points in a game or all scenarios?

1 Answers
Tom Lodziak Staff answered 7 months ago

Good question. Changing the spin and speed can be used both in the middle of the rally and/or as a match strategy.
I’ll start with changing spin or speed in the middle of the rally.
An example would be playing one attack with heavy topspin and then playing the next attack with a flatter drive. In this example, you are testing your opponent’s ability to adapt to the change of spin. Some opponents will struggle with the ever changing dynamics of your shots and will make lots of errors.
It’s the same with a change of speed. For example you may play a fast return of serve and then a slower attack for the next shot (or vice versa). The change in speed on consecutive shots can be disruptive to some opponents, forcing them to mistime their shots.
Or you may change the spin/speed as a general match strategy. For example, you may start a match focusing on playing with lots of topspin, but your opponent is comfortable returning these shots. So you switch to playing flatter attacks and have more success.
Or you may start a match trying to playing lots of fast rallies, but your opponent is also very good at this. So you try to slow the game down with pushes and slower blocks and find your opponent makes more errors.
There are many more ways you can play around with spin and speed variation too, e.g. serves, return of serves, 3rd ball attacks. You should experiment with different approaches and keep the strategies which work best for your playing style.