Ah the wind. Quite possibly the most annoying weather condition that a tennis player has to put up with. Unfortunately it is also one of the most common weather conditions that we all have to endure. Therefore it is important to be prepared for the wind and have a game plan that will help you win matches despite the interference of mother nature. Here are 4 tips for playing in the wind:
Watch the ball onto the strings
In windy conditions the ball is going to move around a lot and sometimes these movements will be unanticipated if you aren’t paying close enough attention. A direct result of this is that windy matches result in more mis-hit/framed shots than normal. To stop this from happening you need to watch the ball onto your strings during every shot. This can be a big challenge to maintain concentration for a whole match and remember to watch the ball onto the strings longer than you normally would but it is definitely worth the effort.
Keep the ball low over the net
Try and keep the ball low over the net at all times (with one exception which we will talk about later) in order to reduce the effect that the wind will have on your shot placement. I’m sure we can all remember a time when we have hit what felt like the perfect shot only to watch the wind curl the ball harmlessly out of play.
The best way to keep the ball low over the net is to use more slice shots. The under-spin that this generates will help ensure that the ball stays low whilst travelling over the net and remains low after it bounces on the other side of the court which will force your opponent to hit up. Your opponent will also have to deal with the windy conditions during your match so if you can force them to hit high shots over the net then your chances of success will increase.
Don’t be afraid to hit a few lobs
Whilst this may seem like a complete contradiction to the previous point it shouldn’t be taken that way. During your match your aim should be to hit low shots and high lobs with nothing in between. A high lob on a windy day is going to swirl around and make it much more difficult for your opponent to connect cleanly with a smash. This tactic should result in a lot of errors from your opponent and a lot of points for you.
In order to keep your own error rate down when hitting your lobs you might want to try and be less aggressive on your lobs than you would be in normal conditions. When it’s windy your aim shouldn’t be to always lob the ball over your opponents head instead you should be quite content to let them reach a few lobs so that they can make a few errors.
Adjust your serve for the conditions
One of the first areas of your game that the wind will affect is your serve. It can potentially play havoc with your ball toss by moving the ball around before you get the chance to hit it. To overcome this you should try a lower ball toss but at the same time ensure that your toss still gives you full extension for your serve.
So often a windy match is about who can make the least errors throughout the match. These errors also include your serve so during a windy match your focus should be on getting a high % of 1st serves in, keeping the number of double faults to a minimum and not worrying about hitting the skin off the ball or hitting a lot of aces.