Tennis is a game of strategy. You all know that, right? Your strategizing should start before you even set foot on the court. I hear people all day asking their partner, “Which side do you want to play?” Usually the answer is, “It doesn’t matter to me.” I think it matters greatly.
The forehand side and the backhand side, as we refer to them, are probably named the wrong thing. The deuce side, which most of you call the forehands side, will actually have you hitting more backhands than forehand. Most doubles play occurs up the middle of the court. And since most of you are righties, that means the ball comes to your backhand more when playing on the deuce side. And the ad side, which most of you call the backhand side, is positioned better for you to hit more forehands.
Power is changing the game of tennis. And the big forehand has become a true weapon. On either side you choose to play, you should try to use your speed and good footwork to run around the backhand and hit a more powerful forehand. Set up more to the left before play even starts to open up the forehand side. Stay aggressive when hitting the forehand and keep in mind that it is an extra step or two to get to the ball and then back into position for the next shot. Leave some of the court open and try to tease your opponent into hitting it to your big forehand side.
The real answer to the original question should always be, “I’ll play either side, but I am better on the ‘whatever’ side.” It is true. You play better on one side or the other. I think some people just see the ball better from one side or the other. I absolutely see players that move better on one side versus the other.
Next time you’re playing a practice match, try this: play a set from one side, and the next set, play the other. Pay careful attention to which shots you hit from each side and see which side presents you with more opportunities to hit your favorite shots. Watch your positioning and see which side of the court you cover better. From which side do you step in and move forward better? On which side do you poach more? All are huge factors in choosing which side you “want” to play.
Choose your side wisely. Come see me if you have questions or if I can help you determine which side you should choose. See you on the courts.
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