Tennis — Power Lines: When To Go Up The Line

When’s the best time to change the angle of an incoming shot?

WebTennis player Gordon emailed me recently with a great question about getting more consistent when going up the line.

Let’s dive into this situation because most players, myself included, make a fundamental mistake when going up the line with a groundstroke or passing shot.

One of my all-time favorite people in the world is Bill Maze, current women’s coach at UC Davis, played #2 at Stanford behind Mac, and won the Kalamazoo national 16s as a kid.

Bill’s carried me to several doubles titles in the Bay Area. Bill’s game could be a movie double for Pete Sampras. Beautiful strokes and insanely s m o o t h ;-)

One of the concepts Bill was taught when he was younger came from Bill Glaves.

Power Lines.

Power Lines refers to when you should choose to go cross court with your groundstroke or when you can change the direction of the ball and go up the line.

In the pic above, I’m receiving a deep ball to my forehand.

As you know, a deep incoming ball makes it tougher to time your shot correctly, especially if you want to take it on the rise and not back up and give up court position.

So, the general rule of thumb is this … when you’re receiving a cross court shot that presents a high degree of difficulty — — depth and/or power — — always go with the high percentage shot which is back cross court along the same line it came to you — its Power Line.

The only time you can choose to change the angle of an incoming shot from cross court and take it up the line is if the ball isn’t deep and doesn’t have a boatload of power.

Even if your opponent is pulled way out wide, and it looks like up the line is totally WIDE open … if they play a deep ball to you or a shot with power, don’t be tempted to change the direction and go up the line.

Chances go way up you’ll make an unforced error.

Be smart. Wait for the right incoming cross court shot to change the direction of your shot.

On the other hand, you can always change the direction of any incoming shot that’s coming up the line to you. Changing THAT angle to a cross court choice is now wide open ;-)

You see the difference there? Hope this helps. Let me know in the Comments area below.

Make it a great day out there!


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