The Most Important Line On The Court


Astute players know that a forehand ground-stroke, a backhand volley, or an overhead for that matter do not exist in a match! They know that with every shot they hit, they are either trying to develop the point or end the point.
Therefore, only two types of shots exist. Set up shots (developing the point) and finishing shots (ending the point).
We know that a professional player can hit a winner from anywhere on the court. This article is presenting a system to benefit recreational level players.
The system to understand how shot selection can be determined is with the A, B, C’s of tennis. They are:

A- Actual Contact Point. Is the contact point ideal or difficult?
B- Balance or body position. Are you stable or moving?
C- Court position. Where are you standing on the court?

When all three factors are in your favor- it is possible to stroke a ball with more force and try for more accuracy. In other words, it is realistic to go for a shot to end the point.
If two factors or less are in the favor of the hitter, then only a set up shot should be attempted. A player must adjust and choose the appropriate amount of speed and spin for each shot. They must ascertain the difficulty of hitting the desired target and understand how close they can aim to the lines or if they should give more margin for error. One way to determine if you have made correct choices is to track unforced errors. If there are a-lot of unforced errors, then it is possible a finishing shot is being attempted when it should only be a set up shot.

Recreational level players must understand the “Most important line on the court.”
This is an imaginary line that is parallel to the net located in the service box, 2/3rds of the way from the net (about 14 feet from the net). As a generalization, shots hit behind this line are set up shots and there is the possibility to hit finishing shots in front of this line. The reasoning behind this is put aways can be accomplished only by speed or accuracy. It is difficult to generate enough speed or angle from far back. (Granted, this is different and possible for professional players; 4.5 and above and stronger male adults). A penetrating shot can be hit from behind the “Most important line” but a player should always think that a return shot will be coming back.

Here is one example of how this works.
Scenario # 1. You:
A- Have a chest high contact point on a volley.
B- Are set and not moving.
C- Are standing 10 feet from the net.
All three factors are in your favor. You should angle the ball for a winning volley in singles or drive the ball to the feet of the closest opponent at the net in doubles.

Scenario # 2. You:
A- Have a knee high contact point on a volley.
B- Are set and not moving.
C- Are standing 10 feet from the net.
Now variables B & C’s still are in your favor but A is not being at knee height. Therefore, a set up shot should be hit. Drive the volley deep in singles and at the furthest person from the net in doubles.
This system applies in every playing situation. Good luck in choosing the highest percentage shot and being a smart player.



  1. tennis says

    Tennis Fan? That is Rafa!!!! He did not post this, it is a demonstration of his server for teaching purposes.

  2. Shane Field says

    Thanks for the offer of a free forehand lesson. I look forward to learning the five main things pros do that us amateurs don’t. With some practice, maybe I could turn pro myself! (although I am 67 years old and 225 pounds at 5′ 9″, so I might have to settle for a semi-pro circuit instead of the ATP tour.)

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