Strokes and Shots

A ”stroke” in tennis terms means the action of the racket to the ball.

The action can be swinging the racket, throwing or punching depending on whether you are playing groundstrokes, serving or volleying.

Sound stroke-making is the basis of all good tennis and it helps to have some lessons from a Baseline Academy professional coach.


These are really swinging strokes used mostly to hit the ball after it has bounced near the back of the court  –  well beyond the service line.

There are a number of groundstrokes but the main ones are the forehand drive and the backhand drive.

The service stroke

The service starts a game of tennis and one of the players hits the ball from behind his baseline over the net and into the service court diagonally opposite.

The server gets two serves or opportunities to get the ball into the correct court.

The service action is a throwing stroke and the ball once put in the air must be struck before it hits the ground.

The volley stroke

This a short punching action of the racket to ball. It is played in the forecourt and can be a deep volley if it is an approach shot or an angled volley if played close to the net as a finishing shot.

Groundstrokes have become so powerful and accurate in the modern game of tennis that net and volley opportunities are now not easy to achieve.

Describing shots

A ”shot” describes the shape and direction of the ball’s flight through the air  –  the first shape of the ball’s flight is its trajectory over the net before it bounces.

The second shape and trajectory comes after it bounces and will be affected by the amount of spin that has been applied to the ball and by the court surface  –  clay, hard or grass.

There are several types of shots that a player will encounter in a match and they are named after their tactical use.

For example the ”drop shot”  –  its name describes its use or the ”passing shot”.

Down-the-line shot

This is a shot hit near to the sideline in a straight line from right court to opponents left court or from left court to opponents right court.

Passing shot

A shot hit past an advancing opponent or past a player who is already in a net position.

Approach shot

A shot that is intended to give you the best chance of getting to the net to make a volley.

Drop shot

A shot played with reverse spin that will drop short over the net with very little forward bounce.

Chip shot

A shot played short with reverse spin to the feet of an advancing player. Particularly useful to use as a serve return against a serve and volleyer who is trying to get to the net.

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