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Judy Murray's tips and drills

Judy Murray
Judy Murray
LTA performance manager and Andy's mother

There is no greater test in tennis than the switch from clay to grass courts in June.

For the top players, the grass season lasts no more than four weeks and as it immediately follows the French Open, most players who lose in the early rounds at Roland Garros will head to Britain to begin their preparation for Wimbledon.

Greg Rusedski
Players must contend with low skidding balls and irregular bounces

They have a very short time to adapt from the high bounce of the slow clay court to the unpredictability of the grass where the average rally in a men's match is four strokes.

In addition the playing characteristics of the game can change on a daily basis depending on the weather, the amount of play the court has had and the length of the grass.

The bounce is generally fast and low so the ability to shorten backswings, serve and volley well and use slice will all contribute to grass court success.

Playing on grass demands that you come up with effective solutions to the following challenges:

  • The ball bounces low and often skids
  • The court is often slippery
  • There are often bad bounces

    Top players make it a target to finish the points off quickly and allow the ball to bounce as little as possible on their side of the net.

    Younger players should also follow this tactic.

    It's important to move in after the serve or the short/mid-court ball and win the point with a volley or overhead.

    The slipperiness demands using a lot of small adjustment steps to get in to the correct position. You will probably need to lower your centre of gravity to get down to the low or bad bounce.

    It's worth investing in a pair of grass court shoes -the ones with the little pimples on the soles. These will really help you to get a better grip on what can be a slippery surface

    Judy Murray

    That means bending your knees!

    Quick adjustments in the swing pattern and footwork are constantly needed so any movement or co-ordination weaknesses will show up immediately.

    And as points tend to be short, it is important to keep good focus. Any lapse of concentration can lead to a service break.

    On grass the serve and return plays a huge part in determining the outcome of the point, so it is very important to use your serve effectively.

    At the beginning of the grass season, the grass tends to be a bit longer and the courts can be quite soft as they have not been often used and there has not been enough sunshine to harden them up.

    If this is the case, try to use the slice serve to keep the ball low.

    Tim Henman
    Henman has had his best success on grass

    Later in the season, if the court is hard and the grass is shorter, the flat serve will work better as the courts will be faster.

    Top spin second serves will be more effective too as the ball will bounce higher.

    Don't forget the body serve, especially if the court is uneven. A slice body serve on grass can be almost impossible to return.

    You may also find the following tactics useful:

  • Serve wide with a bit of slice and attack to the open court. The grass and the slice will keep the ball low, taking your opponent out of position and making it very tough to hurt you with the return.

  • Attack up the lines. Try to take control of the point by hitting hard, flat and deep up the line off short and mid-court balls.

    The ball travels very fast off the grass when hit flat, forcing your opponent to defend. Be prepared to follow that shot in so you can put the ball away with a volley or overhead.

  • Use the drop shot, short slice and stop/drop volleys on grass. If you use these shots effectively, they should land in the areas of the court which are soft and therefore will hardly bounce!

    Players tend not to play in the front half of the service box so this area of the court does not harden up in the same way as the rest of the court.

  • see also
    Henman's net tactics
    13 Sep 05 |  Skills

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