Playing tennis matches often feels like a boxing match. You and your opponent trade shots, trying to move each other around the court. The player that can control the rallies and create weaknesses in their opponent usually wins. One of the best ways to gain control is by hitting more shots cross court.
Cross court shots move your opponent from side to side. This tires them out and opens up the court for winners. Cross court groundstrokes, lobs, and drop shots should make up a big percentage of your shots. Let’s look at why increasing your cross court shots is a key strategy to win more matches.
Why You Should Hit A Lot More Balls Cross Court?
You should hit a lot more balls cross court in tennis because the distance from corner to corner is greater diagonally. This extra 4-8 feet gives you more margin for error and allows you to be more consistent.
The cross court angles make it easier to keep shots in play. You can take bigger swings and be more aggressive while maintaining control of the point. Simply put, cross court shots give you more room to work with and build confidence in your shots.
Draw Your Opponent Out of Position with Cross Court Shots
Hitting cross court forces your opponent to cover more distance. The constant movement from side to side to return these shots is tiring. It takes a toll both mentally and physically. Your opponent has to work harder to get into position for their next shot after scrambling to return your cross court groundstroke.
This opens up opportunities for you to finish points or move them around even more. You may start noticing weaker shots coming back. Let’s examine this advantage of cross court shots further.
How Does Hitting Cross Court Tire Your Opponent?
Imagine yourself returning shots on a full sprint from corner to corner. Exhausting right? Now imagine doing that for hours on end during a long tennis match. That’s the effect of consistent cross court hitting.
The angles required to cover side to side shots are more tiring. Your opponent is basically becoming your conditioning coach, with you dictating the workout. This is why pros like Nadal use heavy topspin cross court forehands to grind opponents down.
On top of the physical toll, it’s also mentally draining. Your opponent has to fully concentrate to be ready for your next cross court shot. Even a small lapse will give you an opening to hit a winner. Keeping that focus under fatigue becomes harder and harder.
What Shots Work Well Cross Court?
Deep groundstrokes like forehands and backhands allow you to move your opponent around while still maintaining control. The higher net clearance gives you more margin for error cross court.
Once you’ve pulled your opponent wide with groundstrokes, drop shots and touch lobs are great for further movement. They have to quickly change direction and sprint forward to retrieve these unexpected shots.
Drop shot and lob combos work well together. You can also throw in some down the line shots once they start cheating in anticipation of the cross court. Varying shots is key after establishing your cross court patterns.
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Move Your Opponent Around to Create Weaknesses
In addition to basic cross court rallies, you can build sequences to move your opponent in specific ways. The goal is to displace them enough to create an opening for a winner.
Some patterns to use are hitting behind your opponent after a cross court shot, wrong-footing them with quick direction changes, and using drop shots to draw them into net.
How Can You Create Openings Down The Line?
After pulling your opponent wide with a heavy cross court forehand, a great follow up is an inside-out forehand down the line. They will be scrambling hard to reach your initial shot and likely not ready for the changing direction.
You can also hit down the line backhand winners after moving your opponent out left with cross court backhands. Look for opportunities where their movement has them leaning and exposed down the line.
Lobs, drop shots, and angled cross court shots set up great opportunities for swinging volley or passing shot winners down the line. Keep your opponent guessing!
What Shots Can You Use to Change Direction?
Inside-out forehands are great for changing direction after a cross court rally ball. Aim for the open court and watch your opponent scramble.
For more subtle changes, inside-in backhands can catch your opponent leaning the wrong way after they shift left to return a cross court shot.
Short angle cross court shots with lots of spin allow you to maintain control but move your opponent forward and back. This disrupts their footing and balance.
Following a deep cross court rally ball with a drop shot is a classic way to wrong-foot your opponent. They have to quickly change direction and sprint forward.
Maintain Consistent Rallies with Cross Court Shots
In addition to creating weaknesses, hitting cross court enables you to stay in rallies longer. This consistency allows you to work points and wait for your opponent to make errors.
The higher margins for error on cross court shots means you can repeat them confidently. Let’s examine why cross court helps consistency further.
How Does Hitting Cross Court Improve Consistency?
Cross court shots give you more room length-wise to work with. The angles allow you to miss longer or wider than down the line and still stay in the point. This builds confidence to swing aggressively while maintaining control.
It’s like the difference between driving down a narrow alley versus a wide 4-lane highway. Cross court shots give you more leeway to make minor errors in depth or direction.
The repetitive nature of cross court rallies also builds a consistent groove. You get into a rhythmic pattern that allows your muscle memory to take over. Your feet naturally start moving into position.
What Are Effective Patterns Using Cross Court Shots?
A bread and butter pattern is hitting a heavy topspin cross court forehand to your opponent’s weaker side. Follow up by nailing a backhand down the line winner as they float a weak reply.
You can also pin an opponent back with consistent backhand cross court shots. After backing them up, rip an inside-out forehand for a winner.
Finally, deep cross court groundstrokes followed by a short angled cross court drop shot is a great mix. The sudden change keeps your opponent off balance.
Why is hitting cross court advised in singles?
You should hit cross court more in singles because it moves your opponent side to side which tires them out. The extra distance diagonally also gives you more margin for error.
How do you hit a cross court?
To hit cross court, aim diagonally across the net toward the opposite sideline. Make contact with the ball on the side of your body opposite from the target.
Why do they hit it to each other in tennis?
Players rally cross court to maintain longer points and consistency. The repetitive patterns build confidence and allow you to control the point until an opening arises.
How do you hit down the line vs cross court?
Hit down the line to change direction quickly and catch your opponent off guard. Cross court is for consistency with its wider margin for error.
What is the advantage side of the court?
The advantage court is the side where you serve from – it allows more angles for dominating points with your serve and aggressive shots.
How do you hit a short cross court?
To execute a short cross court shot, take the ball early upon its bounce and redirect it low over the net diagonally at a sharp angle. This catches opponents off guard.
To quickly summarize, hitting more cross court shots gives you several advantages:
- It tires out your opponent by forcing them to cover more distance.
- You can move your opponent around to create weaknesses for winners.
- Cross court rallies build consistency through repetition.
Next time you play, be mindful about increasing your percentage of shots cross court. Use patterns that leverage the effect of moving your opponent left and right. Mix spins and placements but stay consistent.
Implementing more cross court hitting leads to controlling points. You set the tempo to then exploit your opponent’s weaknesses. Don’t become too predictable though. Throw in surprises with sudden direction changes and drop shots.
Hitting cross court is one of the most important strategies for winning tennis matches. Start drawing your opponent out of position and moving them around today! Your legs may get more of a workout, but the extra running is worth it to force mistakes and hit more winners.
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James Locus is a staff writer at Tennis Make More, a tennis education platform. He’s also the founder and editor of TennisMakeMove.com, a website dedicated to tennis instruction and tennis equipment reviews. He’s also an experienced tennis coach and a certified tennis instructor.