Approach Shots

1.) Know where you are hitting your approach shot before the point begins — path is the highest percentage but to a weakness or down the line are both acceptable

2.) Shorten you back swing or your follow through to adjust to hitting the ball inside the court

3.) If you miss your approach shot — miss wide or in the net

4.) 3 forms of approach footwork: load, jump/hit, and land; step, hop/hit, and land; sprint through the shot

5.) Follow your shot and split step on the side of the court where your approach shot lands

6.) Close as fast as you can to the net — there is no specific spot you need to get to

7.) Split step prior to your opponent hitting the shot

8.) Split step is used to slow your momentum down and change direction not to make you stop moving forward

9.) After you have executed the approach shot, closed forward, and split step — volley in a two shot combination (deep, short or just short)

10.) When you do not have the momentum — it is better to attack the net

Play Singles Like Doubles

1.) High % first serves either up the T or into the body

2.) High % returns primarily cross court

3.) Rally primarily cross court

4.) Slowly work your way into the net and look to finish

5.) Great energy with your feet and be active

6.) Manage your emotions and stay positive

7.) Know where you will hit approach and finishing shots

8.) When in doubt play high %, deep, or through your opponent

9.) Do not try to hit the ball too close to the line or change direction of the ball unless it is the perfect time

10.) Do not slice for no reason — slice only with a purpose — especially do not slice because you did not move your feet

Injuries, Rest, & Fall


Injuries in tennis most often occur from 1.) overuse and 2.) technique. Playing too much, especially combined with technical issues, can lead to pain and eventually an injury. String and racquet choices can lead to injuries sometimes but usually poor string and racquet selections lead to bad technique which is the real reason for the injury. For example, if you use a racquet or string that is not powerful enough or too stiff, you will try to over hit and therefore your technique will break down which can lead to an injury. Therefore, switching to a more powerful racquet or string can help sometimes with pain — but usually the help comes from improved technique and not needing to generate as much power on your own.

The first question with any injury is — will continuing to play tennis going to make my injury worse? If that is the case, then rest or some form of medical treatment is necessary. If the answer is no and continuing to play will not make the injury last longer, then try to find ways to endure the pain and continuing playing or training. More often than not, a few days of rest will do the trick and is far better than pushing a potential injury and making it worse which might require an extended absence. If you do rest and find little or no relief then you will need to explore some form of medical treatment.

It is super important to remember to do all that you can to help prevent and endure through injuries. For example, you should start any form of a practice session with a proper dynamic warm up. You should finish any session or day with a proper stretch. Usually at the first sign of pain, you should make sure to spend extra time stretching, icing, and strengthening the area in pain. Also, proper hydration, nutrition, and sleep will help with preventing and enduring injuries.

Speaking of REST…how much should you rest in general? 1-2 days/week depending on your goals. After a tournament you should take a day off IF you have a tournament the very next weekend. If you do not have a tournament the very next weekend, you should come to practice as soon as possible and work on playing fatigued/multiple weeks in a row. Then you can rest Saturday and Sunday the following weekend. If you are not in a good place with school or sleep, you need to take sometime to get caught up in those aspects. You cannot practice properly overly stressed about school or sleep
deprived. Lastly, do NOT rest if you are sore! Sometimes soreness is confused with injury. When you are sore the best thing you can do is work out the soreness through exercise.


Top 10 Tennis Issues

1.) Thinking too technically

  • Example: Thinking technically when you shouldn’t
  • Solution: Know when to think technically (privates, warm up, drilling) and when to think tactically (point play)

2.) Thinking about what other are thinking or going to say regarding our matches/results

  • Example: Worrying about what your parents, friends, or coaches will say about your match
  • Solution: Play Penn 1; Stay present in the moment; Play for yourself

3.) Failing to be professional

  • Example: Not prepared for practice or staying disciplined with injury prevention
  • Solution: Have everything you need and follow your recommended pre-hab (be disciplined)

4.) Focusing on things that do not exist

  • Example: Worrying to much about the college process or things out of your control
  • Solution: Be reasonable with yourself and be professional

5.) Do not have a between point routine

  • Example: Negative responses following a point (sarcasm or destructive speech)
  • Solution: Have a positive routine that you stick with in good times and bad

6.) Failing to understand basic strategy

  • Example: Failing to understand momentum and what you do well
  • Solution: Know the momentum rules and have an understanding of your game

7.) Not understanding what is truly important

  • Example: Focusing on things outside of our control; Wanting to do things we are good at or things that are just fun
  • Solution: Understand priorities and continue to work on your game

8.) Being too reliant or not relying on certain things enough

  • Example: Listening to random sources
  • Solution: Rely on your Coaches at FAC

9.) Making tennis like school

  • Example: Cramming or making a match a test
  • Solution: Understand the differences between tennis and school and have a balanced practice schedule and patience with yourself

10.) Lack the toughness to be good

  • Example: Struggle in matches when things are not ideal (fatigue, conditions)
  • Solution: Improve conditioning level and be more professional

Offensive Skills

Offensive skills in tennis are:

1.) Heavy top spin

2.) Hard slice/Touch slice

3.) Flat/Power/Less Spin

4.) Taking the ball earlier/attacking the net

5.) Changing direction of the ball

Notes from the week:

1.) Most players unfortunately choose flat/power/less spin when they feel they need to offensive — however this is the lowest percentage way to be offensive and should be the last alternative.

2.) Many people think the best way to work on your offensive skills is to hit with better players — however the best way to work on your offensive skills is to hit with weaker players so that way you can be offensive. That is one of the many benefits of hitting with weaker players.

3.) There are always positives to every practice situation. What determines how much you get out of practice is how much you work on your game. Whether we have indoor courts or no indoor courts, lots of players on a court or few, your the strongest player or the weakest player — all that matters is staying positive, working hard, and working on your game. Frequently the best players in a junior program, state, section, nation, or college team — stay the best players. How can that be if they aren’t hitting with better players? They work on their game. Who does Novak practice with? We can always have stipulations that make practice challenging and beneficial.

4.) High percentage rules:

  • When behind the baseline, miss long
  • When inside the baseline, miss in the net or wide
  • When moving one direction, hit to the big part of the court

5.) Be a student of the game…write in your notebook. Why not be the best version of yourself?

Quality of Ball

1.) Skills of Tennis: Consistency > Accuracy > Movement > Spins > Power

2.) Offensive Skills of Tennis: Heavy Top Spin, Slice, Flat/Drive/Power, Change Direction of the Ball, Take the Ball Early/Attack the Net

3.) Quality of Ball > Rally Ball. A rally implies we
keep the point going. During a tennis point, we are trying to hit the best shot possible that will lead to us winning the point. Quality of ball means…

  • Know your ability level
  • Hit a ball you know you can make
  • Hit a ball that will not be attacked
  • Hit a ball that will lead to you winning the point

4.) As you practice more and become older, start to hit the ball closer to the line with more spin and power while still following the rules above. How hard can you hit the ball with spin?

5.) Between the points…think about strategy and 1, 2 combinations that will earn you an easy opportunity or finishing ball. Do not think about simply winning or losing as that way of thinking puts pressure on you. The goal of a tennis point in general, basic strategies, and 1, 2 combinations are to earn an easy opportunity or finishing ball.

During the actual point, we are relying on instincts and tactics. We are trying to hit the highest quality of ball that will win us the point in one way or another (while still following the rules above). In theory, we are trying to win the point with every shot. That does NOT mean trying to hit a winner or playing low %. What it does mean is the goal of each individual shot is to hit such a high quality of ball that it may be a winner or force an error. You are putting everything you have into every single shot with hopes of winning the point with that individual shot.

Fight = Toughness + Professionalism

In tennis one of the buzzwords that gets thrown around a lot is fight. Everyone wants to be known as a fighter or identified as someone who fights but very few people truly understand what it means to fight. What does it mean to fight on the tennis court? When you take time to think about it — it is not the easiest thing in the world to describe. It is easy to point out or recognize when someone fights or is fighting but it is hard to describe exactly what goes into that process. We have come up with a simple math equation to help us understand exactly what it means to fight on the tennis court. It is our sincere hope that through understanding exactly what fight is we can all improve as competitors in tennis.

Let’s start with toughness. What is toughness? TOUGHNESS IS HOW WELL YOU RESPOND TO EVERYTHING THAT IS NOT IN YOUR COMPLETE CONTROL. In other words, having a positive physical, emotional, and mental response to all factors that are out of your control. The court conditions, the time of your match, the weather, “playing good or bad” (which is for the record a terrible way to describe your performance — more to come on that topic in the future), your opponent’s level, how you feel that day (for example illness), the draw, an unfortunate let court, how the ball bounces, and even the score are all factors that you do not have complete control of. Sure, you can have some level of control over things like the score, but at 5-5 deuce if your opponent steps up to the line and bombs an ace…sorry there might be nothing you could have done about it — too good. But something that you are in complete control of is how you respond to the events. You are in complete control of your reaction to these factors. That is where toughness comes in. The tougher the person, the better they respond. The better they respond, the more they fight. Some people complain about bad breaks, other people view those challenges as opportunities, they fight harder, and thus experience more success on the tennis court.

 For example, practicing hard leading up to a tournament, managing your tournament schedule correctly, applying the knowledge learned in groups and privates, having everything you need for your tournament matches (rackets, water, snacks, towel, clothes), warming up before your tournament matches, stretching after each match, and doing all these things and more to the best of your ability. That is professionalism. If something is in your control, you do it to the best of your ability.

When you combine these two aspects…toughness and professionalism…you are fighting as a tennis player. These concepts are so important for Apex tennis players to understand because this is what we want to be known for as a program. Not the program of big forehands, not the program of numbers, not even the program of tennis championships…we want to be known as the program who has a collection of the hardest fighters. If we have the toughest, most professional, and biggest fighters in the state, country, and world — then we all win. Even more important, is the principles of being tough, professional, and fighting translate over to every aspect of life outside of tennis. These ideas go far deeper than just playing and winning tennis matches. We hope that every single person associated with Apex makes the personal dedication to become a better tennis player through toughness, professionalism, and fighting.

Winning Mindset

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The key to peak performance, as a tennis athlete, is your mind! Your winning mindset is about developing a “habitual mental attitude” that will respond to situations in the right way and allow you to win more often.


Although you may spend hours preparing strokes for competition and developing strategies, it could all be lost during the match without the right mindset. Despite all your preparations, you may find yourself losing to what you might perceive as being a “lesser” opponent.


Ron Waite, certified USPTA tennis instructor, advises that “the first realization that each of us must accept is that there really are no truly ‘lesser’ opponents.” As soon as you assume that you “should” beat an opponent, you are setting yourself up for disappointment. Anything can happen in a match. You can’t expect what you’ve seen or experienced in the past to be a predictor of what will happen in the present match.


“This concept of not expecting the past to influence the present is a key concept in competitive tennis.” – Ron Waite


To have a winning mindset you must think positively and focus on one point at a time. With this frame of mind you’re less likely to wonder to negative thoughts of “what if I miss this first serve” or “I can’t lose this next point.” Stay focused on what you want to achieve not what could go wrong.


Players who have a winning mindset and possess that mental edge over their opponents will make better split second decisions about shots and be able to respond in a more calculated way to the many “quick changes” occurring throughout a match.


All great tennis players have certain characteristics and qualities, in common, that assist them in developing a winning mindset for tennis success. These players have a commitment to excellence, dedication, a strong work ethic and a strong resistance to any difficult situations that may get in their way.



Successful tennis players believe in themselves. This self-confidence does not waiver when they are placed in a stressful situation. Instead, it allows them to remember that they have succeeded when faced with obstacles before.


A belief that there is always a way to win

Despite being met with opponents of great skill, champion tennis players always believe there is a way to win. They continually seek ways to turn things around within in the match to their favor and experiment with new tactics.


Maintain Composure

Great tennis players maintain their composure during extreme adversity. They rarely panic or become flustered. They stay positive and act confidently to handle the stress that comes their way.


Learn from each experience

Successful tennis players learn from each match. They improve and win the next time they are faced with a similar opponent. They are not afraid of criticism and continually seek advice and feedback.



The key to improve your mental tennis game is to identify the factors of the game that you can control and focus less on the one’s that are out of your



Fayetteville Athletic Club has a large tennis program, accommodating people of all ages and levels. If you’d like to learn more about our tennis lessons and teams contact Drew Sosebee at

Connection of Practice & Tournaments

1.) Do the small things right at practice. There are obvious things you should do at every practice, like give good effort, but the small details might make all the difference. Starting behind the line for every suicide, having proper technique during the warm up, or staying focused while hitting serves. 5-5 deuce is just one point but it is a very important point. All the small details might seem unimportant, but if you want to win the 5-5 deuce point, you need to take care of the minor details.

2.) Have a competitors mentality. Do you hope for easy practices or fitness sessions? Do you hope for easy draws or defaults? You might need a mentality adjustment.

3.) Do things right when no one is looking. Some of us want to give great effort at the tournaments or while a coach/parent are present but how we are preparing while no one is watching will determine how we do in the tournaments we play.

4.) Hit the ball in practice that you will hit during your tournament.

Just Make Balls

What Does it Mean to Make Balls?

  • Know your ability level and stay within it.
  • Your ability level is a combination of how hard you can hit the ball and how close to the line you can hit.
  • All tennis players should constantly be improving their ability level and re-evaluating where you are.

How Can you Get Better at Making Balls?

  • Admit if you are losing matches because of consistency.
  • Hit the ball at practice that you will hit in your tournaments.
  • Start thinking about your mistakes like this…(1) Do I need to put more spin on the ball? (2) Do I need to aim further from the line?
  • Over the course of time — due to getting bigger, faster, stronger, and logging practice hours — slowly start increasing the speed of the ball you hit and how close to the line you hit.
  • Continue re-evaluating what your abilities are factoring all relevant factors — time off, weather, situational tennis…