Say you hit with a friend often, you’re both around the same skill level and you want to add something to your game to get you to that next level. You’re comfortable all around, your fitness is where it should be, so what else can you add?
Intelligence. It’s one thing to be a good tennis player, but it’s another thing to be a smart tennis player. You can master all the shots but without strategy and knowledge about the flow of play, you can’t reach that next level.
An easy thing to improve is positioning. After every shot, you need to mirror your opponent. Like during a cross-court rally, say forehand to forehand, you should move more into the deuce side of the court. If you hit a forehand at a sharp angle out wide, pushing your opponent to the side, you should mirror their positioning and station yourself more out wide.
The reason for this tactic is the variety of shots your opponent could play. If they’re out wide, the angles they can create going cross court with their shot are much more pronounced than down the line. Also, the net is lower in the middle compared to the sides, so in general, down the line shots are harder to pull off.
A good way to practice this is to start hitting cross-court with a partner, occasionally changing it up and hitting it down the line. When you do, make sure to recover immediately cross-court and continue the rally. If you do this enough, it will become second nature. By mirroring your opponent’s positioning, you will find yourself getting to many more balls, and vastly improving your game!