Don't Aim for the Court Lines
Beginning tennis players often make the mistake of using the court lines as their aiming point. It's a natural tendency, because the lines stand out as a focal point for the eye. However, a better tactic is to aim a foot or more inside the lines.
Incidence of Error
Why is this the case? Because whether you hit fifty or five hundred shots towards "X," the shots will land around that spot in a circular pattern. This pattern is your incidence of error.
Left: When You Aim for the Corner, 3/4 of Your Incidence of Error Lies Outside the Court
Right: Adjust Your Aim So Most of Your Incidence of Error Lies Inside the Court
As a result, when shots are aimed right at the lines, about half will land out of bounds because half of the incidence of error is outside the lines. Even worse, when shots are aimed at the corners, three-quarters of the incidence of error lies outside the court.
As a result, even professional players aim far enough inside the lines so their incidence of error -- which is significantly less than ours -- lies within the court.
Factors Affecting Incidence of Error
There are two rules that govern the size of your margin for error:
- The harder you hit the ball, the larger the margin for error.
- The lower your level of play, the larger the margin for error.
One way to establish automatic aiming points is to visualize imaginary court lines before you return the ball. These lines must be far enough inside the actual court lines that most shots will land in-bounds.
1. Victor Tantalo, USA Tennis Course: 500 Visual Ways to Better Tennis, USA Publishers, 1986.
2. Verdell Wright, Beefing Up Your Tennis Game. How to Get Tennis Pro Results with Recreation Skills: Part 1. June 3, 2008. http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/782415/how_to_get_tennis_pro_results_with.html
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