View Full Version : Lesson: How to play in the wind

09-29-2007, 01:40 PM
I will be the first to admit, I hate playing tennis when it is windy. However, just because I hate playing in the wind does not mean that I cannot use the wind to my advantage. Anytime you play outdoors you have to face the fact that the wind can be an issue. Some days are better than others, and some courts have better windscreens, trees or adjacent buildings that can block out a lot of the wind. I wish there was a way to block all the wind all the time without 4 walls and a roof, but there is not. Let us take a look at some of the things you as a player need to do to play effectively and successfully in the wind.

I feel footwork is the biggest challenge in the wind. Your footwork cannot be lazy when playing in the wind. Lots of little steps are needed to make sudden adjustments. If you take large steps to prepare to hit the ball and the ball suddenly moves before you swing, you can be way off balance trying to hit the ball. This can cause you to miss-hit the ball. Keep the steps small for careful adjustments of your position to strike the ball cleanly.

Playing in the wind will force you to make adjustments in your ground strokes. It is never a good idea to aim for the lines when the wind is a factor. (Or even when the wind is not a factor) Give yourself a larger margin of error when you aim for those corners and passing shots. The harder you hit the ball the less the wind will affect the ball as it travels to itís destination. The slower you hit the ball the more that wind will play havoc with the ball. This can be a good thing or a bad thing. If the wind is giving your opponent troubles you may want the wind to push your shots around to keep your opponent off balance. The swing of your stroke may slightly need adjusted to. If you are someone with a huge back-swing, you may consider shortening the back-swing to hit your shots. The bigger your back-swing the more time the ball has to move around from the start of your stroke to the point of contact.

When you are playing against the wind (hitting into the wind) try aiming a little higher than usual. If you use your normal ground strokes the wind will make your shots land shorter in the court, allowing your opponent to attack your shots more often. You also need to hit the ball harder to keep your shots deep.

Drop shots are always very effective when hitting into the wind. The wind will keep the ball from getting too deep in the court and will force your opponent to run further to get to the ball.

Approach shots should be hit short and low. This will force your opponent to hit up to try to pass you at the net, which is tough to do, especially in the wind.

When you play hitting with the wind I feel you have the bigger challenge. If you hit too deep the ball can easily sail out. I recommend a lot of topspin when hitting with the wind. Hitting high topspin shots will cause your opponent all sorts of problems since the ball will stay deep and bounce high. It can really force your opponent to move deep into the back-court to return your shots and can force them to hit a lot of shot balls. Keep an eye out for the short ball anytime your opponent is hitting into the wind. Being able to get to the net is a good idea when it is windy since the conditions make it tough to hit passing shots.

When the wind is blowing sideways rather than with or against you, side spins can be very effective. I have a slice backhand which I can also use a lot of side spin with. If the wind is blowing to my right, I use a lot of side spin on the slice to force the ball to curve more to the right. The more you can get the ball travel sideways the more problems you can cause your opponent.

Slice and kick serves can be even more effective when the wind is blowing sideways. Again, get the ball to move as much as you can to the left or right to really keep your opponent on his/her toes. If you are someone with a very high toss the ball is really going to do some serious movement in the air before you hit the ball. If the wind pushes your toss around do not be afraid to not swing and catch the ball and start over. You have the luxury to do this as many times as necessary, although your opponent may not like it.

Overheads can be tricky to hit when the wind makes them do a song and dance while they are up in the air. If the ball is high enough, you may consider allowing the ball to bounce before you hit the overhead. Allowing the ball to bounce will make it easier for you to adjust to the movement after the bounce since there will be much less movement from the wind.

The thing to remember when playing in the wind is that you both have to fight each other and the wind. There is not reason to get fancy, just know what works and really think about which way the wind is blowing and use it to your advantage.

Reprinted with permission from the Tennis4You Lesson Lounge (http://www.tennis4you.com/lesson-lounge/lessonlounge.htm)
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