Tennis Strategy and Tactics

Employing effective strategy and tactics in a tennis match allows you to leverage your strengths against your opponent’s weaknesses to increase your chances of winning. The key is aligning your approach with your abilities.

Tennis Strategy and Tactics

Types of Tennis Playing Styles

Tennis players generally fall into one of four main playing style categories:


Retrievers focus on returning every shot and waiting for their opponent to make mistakes. To succeed, retrievers must:

  • Have excellent fitness and mobility to cover the court
  • Lack aggressive weapons but be consistent


Baseliners prefer hitting groundstrokes from the baseline, aiming to tire out opponents and draw errors over time. Baseliners may volley if forced to the net but do not employ this tactic by choice. Characteristics include:

  • Strong lateral movement and court coverage
  • Deep, consistent groundstrokes
  • High fitness levels and endurance

Top-ranked player Cameron Norrie exemplifies the baseliner approach.

Serve and Volleyer

Serve and volleyers use a strong serve to set up fast attacks at the net. Key attributes and tactics include:

  • Powerful, placement-focused serve
  • Deep, offensive first volleys from inside the service line
  • Quick reflexes and net skills to finish points
  • Weaker baseline game that is protected by net rushing

Serve and volleyer Maxime Cressy is currently one of the only players regularly employing this tactic.

All-Court Player

The all-court player is competently skilled in all areas of the game. However, their versatility can come at the expense of lacking defined weapons and tactics. Up-and-coming Carlos Alcaraz represents a modern example of an all-court player with many offensive strengths.

Drills for Developing Tactics

Useful drills for improving court awareness and groundstrokes include:

  • Target Practice: Hitting groundstrokes aimed at a marked court area while avoiding “no man’s land”
  • Cross-Court Consistency: Hitting repeated cross-court groundstrokes followed by aggressive down the line or inside-out winners

Emphasize using a variety of spins and trajectory to improve control and develop multiple tactical options. The key is turning defensive positions into offensive point-ending opportunities.

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