Here are nine simple no-brainers that could win you some cheap points.
1. Move in noticeably after your opponent faults on a first serve, especially if a male human is serving.
2. Stand in a strange place to receive an important serve. Remember, you don't have to stay there.
3. Poach to the middle or fake a poach at least twice every game that your partner serves.
4. Hit the ball down the middle in doubles. If there is ANY question as to where to hit the ball, hit it in the middle.
5. Hit your first serve over the net. Don't ever fault into the net.
6. Talk more to your doubles partner. Call the balls earlier. Encourage and console each other. Communicate.
7. Remember it is easier to get "smarter" on the court than it is to get "better." Hit smart shots. Make smart mistakes.
8. Bring your
brain with you to the court. If your mind is somewhere else - the office,
home, doing errands, worrying about the kids, visiting the
9. Lob a ball now and then that you could have easily, effectively, and offensively driven. This "no-brainer" will win more than a few points for you.
Nevers and Always...
NEVER ... hit any shot as hard as you can. Tennis is not a power game, and if you are trying to hit a shot as hard as you can, the natural flow of the stroke is destroyed. Most of the time you'll make an error.
NEVER ... think or say to yourself "I'VE GOT TO GET THIS SHOT IN!" (serve, return, volley, overhead, any shot). Who needs this kind of pressure? Rather KNOW you'll get the shot in and concentrate on a smooth, relaxed execution. Practice this attitude. It works.
NEVER ... let your heels touch the court. From before the ball is served until the point is over, you should be moving, bouncing, dancing on the balls of your feet. If you do this, you'll not only cover the court better, but the quality of your shots will also be better.
NEVER .. . bend from the waist for the low ball. Instead, bend from the knees. Bending the knees is magic. It gives your shots power and stability, takes stress off your arm and back, and sends shots over and in that otherwise wouldn't make it.
NEVER . . . become more interested in "beating" the opponent than in winning the match. Keep your ultimate goal clear. Don't let personalities cloud your mind.
NEVER . . . backpedal for an overhead! You want to get your racquet and yourself back early for an overhead, but don't back up. Instead drop your foot back and slide sideways. It is faster, easier, and safer.
NEVER . . . go after a shot if your partner has called for it, even if it is the stupidest call in the history of tennis. It is better to lose the point than to have both players trying to return the same shot. (It also reduces the number of visits to the emergency room.)
NEVER . . . do anything on the tennis court that you wouldn't be happy to tell your mother about the next day. Or your father or your wife or husband or kids.
ALWAYS . . . take your time when serving. Develop a personal ritual (ball-bouncing, deep breaths, nodding your head) that enables you to relax and focus on your serve.
ALWAYS . . . start moving your feet before the server serves the ball. Bring the weight up on the balls of your feet and start to dance, rock, roll, bounce - whatever.
ALWAYS . . . move in at least one large step if your opponent faults on the first serve. Don't be subtle. Always be sure this "change of position" is noticed by the server.
ALWAYS . . . try to concentrate on the ball from the time it comes off your opponent's racquet until it hits your racquet. Look for the seams, the writing on the ball. Use any trick you can to increase your visual concentration on the ball. Try to watch each shot hit the strings on your racquet.
ALWAYS . . . get your racquet back early on your ground strokes. As soon as you know which side of your nose the ball is going to be on, start to turn in that direction and take your racquet back.
ALWAYS . . . chose the smarter, safer, higher-percentage shot over the flashy, highlight-film shot that makes the crowd go wild ... the one time out of six that it goes in.
ALWAYS . . . stay with a winning strategy and almost always change a losing strategy. It is trite, but true.
ALWAYS . . . try to run down every ball, even if you don't think you can get there. You'll surprise yourself at some of your amazing impossible gets.
ALWAYS . . . play within your game, your capabilities. It is not likely that you will miraculously develop some new shot or skill in the middle of a match. You can't just decide to hit "better" shots, but you can decide to hit smarter shots.
ALWAYS . . . try to remember that "it is all practice" and that "it is only a game." Always try to keep your perspective, no matter what is happening on the court.
ALWAYS . . . play a ball as being "good" unless you are positive the entire ball landed outside of the line. If a ball is not unquestionably, positively, 100% "out," then it is unquestionably, positively 100% "in."
ALWAYS . . . bring a new can of balls to the court. You certainly don't have to volunteer to use them each time. You can decide to leave them in the car if you want to, but you'll know you'll always have new balls if no one else brings a can.