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Your 2 Step Tennis Plan – Tennis Quick Tips Podcast 166

By Kselz @TennisFixation

Get ready for a tip that will either do absolutely nothing for you or radically transform how you play tennis. Sounds interesting, right? Today, I'm going to talk about the "2 Step Plan" you need to have when you're out on court. You can listen to this episode by clicking on the media player in this post or by listening in with your favorite podcast app. You can also subscribe in iTunes by clicking on this link:

Your 2 Step Tennis Plan – Tennis Quick Tips Podcast 166


When I play tennis, I almost exclusively play doubles. And, right now, I would say I play around level 3.5. My current team is a "high B" level team. And what I'm talking about in today's tip is something that anyone at any level, not just at my level, should be thinking about and doing.

What Level Of Tennis Are You Playing?

Today, I want to make sure you have, at a bare minimum, a 2 Step Tennis Plan. What does this mean? It means that, during a match, before you hit that next tennis ball, you need to have a plan for what your next 2 shots will be. Or at least, what you would like them to be.

Now, before I explain how to do this, let me say, this tip might not be for everyone. If you are a high level player, if you are playing Open level tennis, if you are a former college player, if you play 4.0 or above tennis on a regular basis, you are probably already applying this tip in matches. In fact, you might have more than a 2 step plan. Maybe you have a 3 or 4 or even 5 step plan. Certainly, that's what we see with the pros. If that sounds like you, what I'm talking about today, might not make a big impact on your game. In fact, you might listen to this episode and think, "Huh? What? Isn't everyone already doing that?" If that's you and you want to skip this episode, feel free.

But the player I'm speaking to, is the player like me. If you're playing B level tennis, if you're playing 3.0 to 3.5 tennis, if you're playing for fun or on a neighborhood team or in a recreational league, this tip might make a huge impact on your game. Because what I find when I talk to the players on my teams, players I partner with, players I do drills with, many, many of these players have no plan for what they are doing when they hit a shot in their match. They are simply reacting to whatever comes over the net. They are not proactive. They are reactive. And when you're reactive, you can't take control of what's happening on court. You can't play YOUR best shots. You can't make your opponent do what you want them to do.

What Is A 2 Step Plan?

So just what is a 2 Step Plan? A 2 Step Plan is your plan for the next two shots YOU are going to hit in the point. If you're the server, it's the serve you're going to hit and then the shot that you'll hit when the ball comes back to you. If you're the returner, it's the return that you'll hit and then the next shot you'll hit when the ball comes back to you. If you're the net player, it's the poach that you'll hit and then the shot you'll hit when the ball comes back to you.

That's it! I'm not talking about setting up a 5 shot pattern here a la Rafael Nadal or Roger Federer. I'm just talking about you coming up with the plan that you will use if and when you hit the next two shots in your match. And to have this plan in place before you hit that first shot.

Making A 2 Step Plan

So how do you come up with this 2 Step Plan? Let's talk about just how to do that.

Let's start with the serve. The simplest 2 Step Plan can be formed when you're serving. If you don't apply this tip at any other time, be sure you're using it when you're serving. Because in that situation, you have complete control over the ball. When you're the server, you, and only you, determine where the next shot is going. So have a plan for that next shot. Have a plan for your serve. And make it a 2 Step Plan. Don't just tell yourself, "I'm going to serve up the middle." Tell yourself, "I'm going to serve up the middle and then volley the next shot out wide." So Step 1 is - serve up the middle, drawing the returner to the middle of the court. Step 2 is - come in behind your serve, and hit the volley out wide, in the alley left open by the returner. And if you're playing singles, this simple plan will usually work very well for you.

Now, you might say, "Well Kim, I mostly play doubles. What if the returner doesn't hit the ball back to me? What if he or she hits it to my partner?" That's great! Your partner can poach. And if they cut in front of you on the poach, fine, you are behind them and you should see this. So move to the other side of the court.

But you might say, "Kim, what if the returner hits a lob return that goes over my head because I came in for the volley?" Be sure to say "Yours!" and let your partner take it. And be happy! I mean hitting a lob return, that's not an easy return to hit.

Now, I can already hear you saying, "But Kim! What if the returner hits an amazing angle volley that I can't get to because I'm moving in?" Hey, if they can hit an amazing angle volley that you can't get to, let them have it! That is a very difficult return to hit and I promise you, at the level we're talking about, mid to high B-ish tennis, they won't make a whole lot of those. So let them keep trying to hit those. You will probably win more points on those than you lose.

All of these scenarios highlight something that I hope goes without saying in doubles - you should be communicating with your partner. Let your partner in on your 2 Step Plan by telling them, for example, "I'm going to serve up the middle and then come in for the volley." That's all you have to let them know so that they can be ready for whatever happens next. Communicating with your partner will help ensure the success of your 2 Step Plan.

Sample 2 Step Plans For Tennis

The easiest and quickest 2 Step Plans you can adopt are on the serve and return. Because those are times you KNOW you're going to hit the ball. So what are some very simple 2 Step Plans you could put into action right now?

First, we talked about the serve up the middle, followed by the volley out wide. Another great plan would be the serve up the middle, followed by the volley at the net person's feet. They key for both of these is you have a plan before you ever hit your serve: Step 1. You serve up the middle. Step 2. You come in and volley at your target. You don't serve up the middle and see if it really works. If you do that, you can never properly execute Step 2. So believe that you'll pull off Step 1 and be in place and ready for Step 2.

Here are a few more 2 Step Plans:

Serve wide, volley to the middle, behind the returner. With your wide serve, the returner will be pulled off court. At the level we're talking about here, B-ish tennis, the net player will probably NOT cover the middle. Or at least won't cover enough to get the ball that goes behind the returner. And even if he or she does, he or she will definitely be pulled out of position for your third shot.

Here's another 2 Step Plan - hit a lob return to the server's backhand, and then volley at the net player or maybe even into the open court. So in this situation I'm imagining that you're returning to a right handed server in the deuce court. Your lob return would be to the server's backhand. A lob return to a server's backhand usually means the server will be on the run and hitting with their weaker shot. The net player may be unprepared to cover the now open court and you can either volley at him or her or right into the open court.

Here's another 2 Step Plan - return wide, volley in the other alley. This is a great plan if you yourself like to volley, which I do, and you have a net player who is either very flat-footed, meaning they're not moving at all, or they're active up at the net and have been poaching a lot. This is a great way to slow those poachers down and make them rethink what they're doing.

So that gives you several different 2 Step Plans that are not complicated. And any player can try at least one of those out in their next match. When you try one of these 2 Step Plans out and it works, you are going to feel like you have accomplished something amazing! Like you had a plan and it worked! The way I feel when I do this is, "Hey! I actually know how to play tennis!"

Will Your 2 Step Plan Always Work?

So will your 2 Step Plan always work? No, it definitely won't. Sometimes you'll find your opponent can deal with that second shot effectively. Sometimes your partner doesn't quite get what you're telling them and they don't move in a way that helps your plan. Sometimes you can't pull off your Step 1 and set yourself up for Step 2. Sometimes you do a great job on Step 1 but the ball doesn't come back to you.

But if you DO have a plan, if you do actually think out the next two shots you want to hit before you hit them, you'll be surprised how often things actually go your way. You'll find yourself reacting less and acting more. You'll be the one determining more of what happens in the point, not your opponent.

And guess what? Most of your opponents are at your level AND they probably don't have a 2 Step Plan to counter YOUR 2 Step Plan! Unless of course, they're Tennis Quick Tips listeners!

Do you have to have a 2 Step Plan every single time you hit a tennis ball in a match? Nah. That would be nice but I get it. It's mentally exhausting to think that much. At least when you first start doing it. And I certainly don't have a 2 Step Plan every time I hit the ball. Sometimes I just want to have fun and I'm not going to think every shot through. 165But I do think about it often, certainly when I'm serving and most of the time when I'm returning. And when it works, it feels incredible!

So give a 2 Step Plan a try in your next match. And be sure and let me know how it goes. You can reach me at [email protected]. I'd love to hear from you!

Well, that's it for this week's Tennis Quick Tip! I hope you're getting out on the court and playing lots of tennis these days. My league is just now starting up and I'm hoping for cooler weather and plenty of sunny days. Thanks so much for listening and, as always, Happy Tennis!


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Your 2 Step Tennis Plan – Tennis Quick Tips Podcast 166

© Kim Selzman 2019 All Rights Reserved

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