How To Beat The Power Baseline In Tennis
When I think of a Power Baseliner In Tennis athlete comes to mind, Serena Williams. From the warm-up on, her goal is to continually punish you, to break your will and finish the match in the shortest amount of time of possible. There is no time for rallying, the points must be short and hitting winners is imperative. Each every and every ball struck will be place deep, into the corners giving you absolutely no breathing room. The only consolation to playing this type of player is that the match can end in a blink of an eye, sparing you a long, slow death.
So how do you beat a power baseliner in tennis? What types of shots can neutralize this beat of a player? Does this player have any weaknesses and how do you expose them?
1) Eliminate Pace
A power baseliner thrives on pace. The ball struck with pace usually lines up right in their strike zone, making it easy for them to reply with equal or significantly more power. Rather than match their pace, disrupt their rhythm and comfort with more “moon balls” or “rainbows.” This type of shot does a couple things to disrupt a power baseliner’s play. One, a moon ball doesn’t have much pace, forcing your opponent to over hit and make more errors. Second, a moon ball bounces high, out of a power baseliner’s ideal strike zone. Remember, a power baseliner plays at one pace so hitting a ball high, out of their strike zone doesn’t matter. They still want to crush the ball. Unfortunately it’s not a optimal area to hit from (above their shoulders) a they are more likely to hit more errors.
2) Slice and Dice Them
Once again hitting out of their strike zone is crucial. If you can hit a slice, in can be instrumental in breaking down a power baseliner. Especially if they are a taller player. For a taller player, the low, sliced ball can be a big a major inconvenience. Along with a low, sliced ball, placement can be key. Mix up your slices with deep balls, drop shots and angles.
3) Run down every ball
A power baseliner has zero tolerance for another ball coming back. They really do want to end the point in the shortest time possible. Patience is not one their strong points. Knowing that, make it goal to run every ball down and return it. You obviously have to be in good shape and not get dissappointed when a few winners are zipped passed you. Make it a goal to make at least 5 shots on every point. It may take more than 5 balls to win the point but no worries, it’s a marathon, not a sprint against this style of player.
4) Mix it up
Power baseliners are usually “rhythm” players. They like to get into a flow, continue to pound you with their power and depth. Make it a goal to never show them the same ball twice. That means mixing up your pace, spin, depth and height of the ball. One drill that I conduct with my students is to have them vary the first two shots of any rally. They achieve this by changing the variables I mentioned above. They may hit one topspin shot followed by a ball that is sliced. The same can be done with the height, depth or pace of a ball.
5) Net a victory at the net
You want to talk about changing things up, how about going to the net? A power baseliner enjoys having the freedom of hitting deep to the corners. When you approach the net, they may become uncomfortable. In order to pass you, they may try and keep the ball a bit lower, forcing them to hit more shots into the net. Forget about them lobbing, they probably don’t have a lob in their game. One other thing to consider. If you can pt lace your approach shot into a corner and get them out of position, your next volley only has to be average because by them hitting hard, the ball gets to your quick, leaving them out of position.