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3 Choices: D.N.A.

One of the very first mental steps to playing smart tennis is to play the right shot for the different situations that we are in on the tennis court. We are always presented with 3 different choices: Defence, Neutral, Attack (D.N.A.) Understanding these decisions and which is the most appropriate shot for each situation is crucial. As much as it has to do with strokes and the (how to), a player has to develop the instinct to understand and be disciplined to make the right choice when faced with each situation.

These 3 situations, D( Defense), N(Neutral) and A(Attack) are present in points we play. First, a player has to understand the situation they are in and then they can respond accordingly. A few criteria comes into play here when we are trying to understand these situations:

  1. Height of ball when you make contact

  • If ball is above the net you are in Attack mode

  • Ball is below the net you are in Defense mode.

   2. Position of feet when you make contact

  • Feet that is inside the baseline is considered as Attack mode

  • Feet that is outside the baseline is considered as Defense mode

   3. Time

  • A weak shot will mean that we have more time to prepare and get in position for an aggressive shot

  • A stronger shot will mean that we have less time to react and prepare

  • Time is determined by the type of ball trajectory and pace

A combination of both Defense and Attack is called Neutral mode. For example, Ball is above the net but our feet are outside the baseline that is called neutral and our shot selection has to be a rally shot.


Judgement and decision making comes into play to understand if we have enough time to hit a neutral shot to help us gain better court positioning


Defense Fundamentals:

  1. On Defense, we should aim to neutralize it and not jump from defense to attack

  2. Look to play balls higher and deep cross courts when you are positioned in the back of the court

  3. Be clear with the meaning of Defense. Too often, players do too much on defense and make unnecessary errors. When on defense, your goal is to put the ball back in and let the opponent play another shot.

Neutral Fundamentals:

  1. On Neutral, we are trading shots with opponents in an attempt to force a weak shot from the opponent

  2. Think depth before angles. When your shots are deep, the weak returns come naturally for you to dictate the point

  3. Never make unforced errors on Neutral

Attack Fundamentals:

  1. Hesitation is your worst enemy, if a chance to attack presents itself, commit to the shot.

  2. Think fast instead of hard.

  3. Stepping in and taking time away from your opponent is a form of attack as well

  4. Be open and accept that you might have to reset back into Neutral/Defense after you attack

Start playing Winning Tennis!

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