Coach Samson Dubina US National Team Coach 4x USATT Coach of the Year

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Two Aspects of Rallies

Article and Video

Two Primary Aspects to Rallying
-By Coach Samson Dubina
If you want to win the long rallies, there are two main things that you need to do well.  Branching out from these two categories, there are dozens and dozens of sub-categories.  In the article, I’ll be explaining the two main ones – adjustability and forcing your opponent to adjust.
#1 Adjustability
Yes, consistency is important in the long rallies, but HOW can you be consistent.  The primary way that you can be consistent is by being adjustable with both your feet, body position, and racket starting position based on the incoming speed, spin, placement, height, and depth of the incoming ball.  If you are able to make small micro adjustments, then you have a good start to being consistent.  The pitfall for most players is thinking the ball will be to a good location and they don’t need to move.  This is a bad bad bad pre-supposition.  You need to pre-suppose that you need to move, need to adjust, and need to adjust for each and every shot.  Next, you need to train the small movements.  Have your robot or training partner give you subtle variations in speed, spin, placement, height, and depth and see if you can learn to make micro adjustments.  If you can, you have a good start at being consistent.
#2 Forcing Your Opponent to Adjust
The second aspect of winning long rallies is to make your opponent adjust to you.  There are a few ways to win rallies – with speed, spin, placement, variation, and consistency.  No matter how consistent you are, it is really difficult to win the long rallies without any variation.  Try hitting a little wider or try going a bit faster or slower or deeper.  These subtle variations will make your opponent less consistent and ultimately help you to win the rallies.
Most players fall trap to focusing on only one of the above points.  They either focus on being so adjustable and consistent themselves, that they are just hitting to obvious locations and not adding variation.  OR!  They try to be so tricky with hitting hard or angling wide that they themselves miss.  So what should you do?  Both!  You should practice drills where you are hitting to different locations (even adding different speeds and spins) while combining backhand and forehand and learning to be adjustable yourself. 
Video Demonstration
Chance Friend assisted me in making a video demonstration of how you can practice this skill.  He is practicing his footwork linking both backhand and forehand together while working on changing direction.  He is playing one backhand to the backhand, one backhand to the forehand, one forehand to the forehand, and one forehand to the backhand.

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