Different Strokes

There's a lot more to the sport of tennis than hitting a ball back and forth over the net. There are many different ways to hit the ball, and all of them are an important part of learning to play the game. As in most sports, practice is an important part of learning these strokes. Just hitting the ball with a partner or against a wall for a little bit each day will make you a better tennis player.

Serving: Each point starts out with a serve. Many pro tennis players are able to serve the ball extremely fast, usually well over 100 miles per hour! But there is much more to serving than hitting the ball hard. Good players know how to place the ball so it's difficult for their opponent to return. They can also put spin on the ball to make it bounce away from their opponent. For a young player learning the game, the most important part of serving is the ability to place the ball inside the service box. Once you know you can get your serve in, you can work on hitting the ball faster.

Forehand: This is one of the most important and common strokes in the game. For right-handed players, the forehand side is their right side. For left-handed players, it's the left side. A good forehand is similar to a good baseball swing. Players need to keep their racquets level and hit a good line drive over the net. When learning to hit a good forehand, young or inexperienced players don't want to hit the ball so hard that it lands beyond the court, out of bounds.

Backhand: A good backhand is equally as important but a little more difficult than a forehand. It is used to return a ball on your off-side, meaning the left side for righties and the right side for lefties. Many players learn to hit a backhand using two hands, so that their dominate hand is able to help guide their off hand.

Volley: A volley is a shot that a player hits while standing close to the net. While players usually hit their forehands and backhands after the ball bounces once, they hit volleys directly out of the air. If your opponent is near the back of the court, a well-placed volley that lands just over the net can be impossible to return.

Watching the U.S. Open, you might see the world's best players using all of these types of strokes, among several others. It took them years and years of constant practice to perfect their games, and you can see how all this hard work has paid off by noticing how well they play the game.

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