How to Beat a Defensive Tennis Player? 


As much as I love watching Rafa, Novak, Roger and the rest of them go for their shots on court, it is equally frustrating when you find yourself playing against one. You try your very best to get that ball in but the opponent just won’t budge!

They don’t seem to make a single mistake and you end up losing in straight sets! Defensive players can be a challenge, to say the least. However with the right tactics and mindset going into the match, there is no reason why they should prove too much trouble for an offensive player. 

How do I beat defensive tennis players? Well here are some useful tips to help you do just that. 

Characteristics of a Defensive Tennis Player 

  1. Being a defensive player is not an easy task. They need to be able to think fast on their feet, have excellent stamina and above all else, have the willpower to never give up no matter how many errors they make. 
  1. Defensive tennis players are always extremely consistent but it is this very attribute that can also cause them problems. 
  1. When playing against an offensive player, a defensive tennis player might feel the urge to go on the attack and take risks. This is not always a good solution as you run the risk of making even more errors. 
  1. So do offensive players have an advantage over them? Well, it depends on how they play their game. A patient approach with some well-placed volleys can be extremely effective against them. 
  1. However, it is important to remember that there are no clear-cut strategies that guarantee you victory. Every player has different abilities and traits, so you will need to use your best judgment when deciding on a specific strategy that can suit your own strengths as a player. 
  1. You should also bear in mind the fact that defensive players play well on all surfaces and there is nothing that you can do to stop them from doing so. They will give it their all and they will not give any ground on the court. 
  1. They are fast, they are agile and there is only so much you can do to defeat them. 
  1. So instead of trying to find ways to beat them, it might be wiser if you worked on your game and on improving the areas in which you are weaker. 

Tip #1: Keep your patience! 

Patience is key when playing against those who like to keep the ball in play and wait for opportunities. You will encounter more than a few players who will let you attempt as many shots as you like and stay right on top of the baseline waiting for an opportunity to strike.

These players do not often make a single error and can frustrate players to no end. However, there is an easy solution to this… 

Tip #2: Serve & Volley! 

This is probably one of the most beneficial tactics you can employ against a defensive player on the court. When they are standing so far back from the baseline, they are not going to be able to match you in terms of power and pace.

If you get yourself into position at the net, you can really take advantage of this and move in swiftly to pounce on any short balls your opponent might send your way. 

Tip #3: Serve wide! 

If a defensive player is only moving towards the middle of the court, you are better off sending down your serves wide. If you serve wide, they will not have enough time to get back into position and consequently receive the ball with less power which allows you to gain an advantage over them. 

Tip #4: The Right Mindset 

If you remember one thing from this article, let it be this… The right mindset is of all the most important things you need to have when playing a defensive tennis player. You cannot expect yourself or your opponent to make a single error.

You can’t even expect them to make several errors in one game… Every point must be fought for and won with relentless determination! 

This means you will need to dig deep within yourself and find the drive and motivation to push through every single point. You will need keep yourself fired up and motivated all throughout the match.

It is not easy and it can be extremely draining always having to motivate yourself and this is where many players fail when playing against defensive tennis players. So remember, you cannot afford to let your concentration slip at any moment in time. 

Tip #5: Consistency! 

Consistency is absolutely paramount when playing against defensive players because you will encounter opponents who are very talented at keeping the ball in play. If they fail to make an error, all you can hope for is that they might throw in a few double faults or hit one out of bounds by mistake. 

You need to be consistent so as to wear them down with pressure. The more points that you win, the lower their confidence will become which causes them to make even more mistakes. You may not be able to get rid of them altogether, but if you keep this up then you can at least gain an advantage over them and put yourself in a stronger position moving forward. 

However, before you can do any of this, you need to make sure that your game is consistent. You should not be making any unnecessary errors and all the shots in your arsenal must be performed with pinpoint accuracy if you hope to defeat defensive players on a regular basis. 

Tip #6: Use Lobs 

If you don’t like playing an aggressive style of tennis and you would rather prefer to make your opponent run around the court, lobs can be a great tactic against defensive tennis players. 

When they are standing so far back from the baseline, it is very easy for them to misjudge the lob and end up sending the ball long or out of bounds.

If you hit your lobs well, then you can really force them into making errors and eventually tire out their legs which puts you in a stronger position to win the match. 

Tip #7: Outlast Them 

As mentioned previously, defensive tennis players are extremely tiring to play against so if they are not very confident at the net, you may find it possible to hit some passing shots and put yourself in a more favorable position on the court. 

Remember to beat them at their own game by outlasting them! They will make more mistakes if they are already feeling fatigued so use this to your advantage.

Keep running after every single ball until it bounces twice or you can sense that there is no way they are going to make an error as this is the only way you will be able to gain a foothold over them and take control of the match. 

Tip #8: You Can Do It 

Yes, it can be harder than you think to beat defensive players but it is certainly possible. They are just human after all and they do not have supernatural powers! 

One of the most important things that you need to do is look after your health. If you are feeling tired or run down then it will be extremely difficult to have enough stamina to outlast them.

Another thing is to try and remain positive no matter what happens, if you lose the first set then don’t panic! This game is not over until it is over… 

Tip #9: Shorten The Rallies 

Shortening the rallies is one of those tips that may not go down too well with many people as this is not exactly an ‘honorable’ way to play tennis. However, it can be very effective and I highly recommend that you utilize this tactic if you wish to defeat defensive players who like to keep the ball in play. 

One of the best ways to beat a defensive tennis player is to shorten the rallies by hitting the ball hard and low. If you keep their shots low then they will find it very tough to move around and get themselves into position so this should give you a major advantage. 

You can also try hitting some drop shots as well because if they are not confident enough to come rushing in, they will be forced to hit the ball long. These tactics can be very effective so give them a try and see if they work for you! 

Tip #10: Get Up Close And Personal! 

If there is one thing that defensive tennis players hate, it is coming up against an opponent who comes charging in to the net. 

You need to get in close so that they are forced to hit the ball at shoulder height which is really difficult for them to do because it will keep them pinned back.

As soon as you sense an opportunity, take it right away and charge in quickly before they have any time to think about what is going on. This is a great way to bait them into hitting a risky shot and making an error. 

Tip #11: Their Own Rhythm 

Another great way to attack defensive players is by taking them out of their own rhythm. 

This is a very effective tactic in your arsenal and one that can be used when you are in an advantageous position in the match. Simply hit the ball with pace and precision, but vary the rhythm so that they cannot anticipate what shot will come next.

The best way to do this is hitting the ball with varying speeds and placing your shots well enough so that they cannot move around and anticipate what is going on. 

Don’t give them any chance to recover as you know how tough it can be facing up against defensive players! 

Tip #12: Variation in Tactics 

It is crucial that you vary your tactics because if you keep hitting the same shot or using the same tactic then they will start to realize what you are doing. 

You need to be unpredictable in order to outwit defensive players and utilize a variety of shots, varying pace and changing direction should prevent them from getting used to what you are doing. 

Tip #13: Ability to Pounce on Mistakes 

The most important thing that you need to do when playing against defensive players takes advantage when they make a mistake. 

This has been proven time and time again in the professional game and it is so crucial if you wish to be successful playing against tough opposition.

You cannot afford to miss opportunities because they will not come streaming in, so always key in on any mistake that is made and pounce immediately. 

Tip #14: Use Backspin Shots Like Chops/Slices 

Backspin shots are not only helpful when you are in an offensive position, but they can also work really well against defensive players. 

You need to use these types of shots if you want to defeat tough opposition so try hitting some backspin chops and slices when the ball is coming in your direction.

The reason why this tactic works so well is because it will be difficult for them to move around and once again, you should find that they are pinned back in their own territory. 

Above all else, if you keep the rallies going then defensive players will struggle because they cannot keep moving around and hitting the ball from one end of the court to another. 

Master as Many Shots as You Can 

The more shots that you have in your armory, the better chance you will have of finding something that works. 

If they are looking to move around and stay in the game for as long as possible then it will be difficult to combat them so it is important to apply all of the above tactics if you want an easy ride when taking them on. 

In recent years, more and more coaches have been advising players to play from the back of the court as it is a tactic that not only works against defensive players but also those who are offensive as well. 

You need to play with technique rather than power which is exactly what you will have if you have mastered a variety of strokes. 

It is not easy to teach players how to become defensive but playing against these kinds of opponents should give you the perfect opportunity to practice your own skills. 

Practice. And Practice Some More! 

If you don’t keep practicing and fine-tuning your own game then there is no way that you will be able to compete against players who rely on these kinds of tactics. 

You need to practice as much as possible if you want to beat opponents that play with great defense and this is something that not a lot of players like doing! 

However, if you want to win more matches then you need to work on your strengths and this will stand you in good stead when playing any type of opponent. 

Forget about the idea that practice makes perfect, because practicing against defensive players isn’t going to improve your own game – so what’s the point!? 

You should be concentrating on what you can do and working on perfecting your own game instead of trying to improve yourself against defensive players. 

Work on Your Fitness 

In the real world, fitness is extremely important if you want to win matches and this is something that tennis players cannot afford to mess around with. 

The ability to move around quickly will make a massive difference when taking on these kinds of opponents so always be prepared for a tough match because it will probably go the distance. 

You should consider hiring a fitness coach who can help you to improve your game in all areas so that you are able to hit the ball with great power, while also being able to run around the court. 

Above all else, if you do not have great endurance then your opponent will be able to outlast you and this is something that they rely on. 

Your fitness level needs to be excellent and the only way of achieving this is by ensuring your practice with intensity and never give up – even when it feels like there is no hope. 

Watch That Spin! 

The spin can make a massive difference when playing defensive players, so try to get the ball to bounce away from them. 

Crucially, if you are able to move around quickly then it will be easier for you to return the ball with great power and this is something that they will struggle against. 

When they are on offense then you should find it easier to return the ball with great power and this is something that you need to do if your opponent is going to struggle. 

The more time they spend chasing balls around the court, the less time they will have to hit back and this will work in your favor so always try and get yourself into a position where you can take control. 

Probe for Their Weaknesses 

Defensive players are not always perfect and if you look hard enough then there will be areas of their game that you can work on. 

If you find this and do something about it then your opponent will quickly lose confidence in their own ability so always try to get the ball through these areas. 

It is important to get the ball back over the net because if you can control possession then there’s a good chance that they will begin to panic, making mistakes along the way. 

The more mistakes they make, the less chance they will have of winning so always try to get on top as soon as possible. 

Work on your strengths so that you can beat them at their own game which means understanding how best to move around the court and returning the ball with great power. 

Always remember that these kinds of players are not unbeatable and you can beat them if they don’t keep improving – so stand your ground and fight for every point. 

Beat Them at Their Own Game! 

When you play defensive players then you’re going to have a tough time and it might feel as though they are unbeatable, however, this is never the case. 

As long as you know what your opponent does well then you will be able to beat them by playing some great tennis – so pay attention! 

There’s a lot that goes into beating defensive players and this is something that you need to be aware of because if your opponent manages to outwit you then there will be no way back. 

Placement Remains the Key 

When you’re playing defensive players then placement will remain the key and if you can get this right then it will be a whole lot easier for you to win matches. 

They are used to chasing balls around so if you push them back by hitting the ball deep, they will struggle immensely. 

Admittedly, this is something that not many people do or even think about but in order to stand a chance of winning, it is crucial. 

A defensive player will not move around quick enough so you should always try your best to push them back using deep shots. 

If they are unable to reach the ball then they are going to have a tough time returning it with any kind of power which plays right into your hands. 

If you can get them to move around so much, they will quickly lose their composure and if this happens then it is a whole lot easier for you to take control of the match. 

Final Thoughts 

In order to beat a defensive player, you need to use variety in your shots and keep the opponent guessing. Serve with spin on both sides of the court, mix up depth and height on groundstrokes as well as lobs from behind the baseline. 

The more they have to think about what’s coming next, the easier it is for you to win points! Be sure not to let them dictate play by consistently blocking or passing. Instead go back into their space time after time until they’re forced out wide where they won’t be able to block effectively. 

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