You have all heard the term court awareness. Commentators often talk about certain players having court awareness or sometimes referred to as situational awareness. What does it really mean? How does it affect your tennis game?


Whenever we are on the court we are facing one of the five situations:

  • Serving
  • Returning
  • Rallying back and forth from the baseline
  • Approaching the net or at the net
  • Dealing with your opponent approaching the net or at the net


Depending on each situation or where you are on the court, you have to respond accordingly. Knowing how to respond to each of these situations by selecting a correct shot is key to improving your chances of winning. Often times you find players with great technique, but their shortcomings in their shot selection often gets them in trouble with players who may be more savvy on the court.


Shot selection


Situation awareness in tennisThe situation (and/or court position) you are in MUST determine your shot selection and you only have three options:

  • You decide to Rally
  • You decide to Attack
  • You decide to Defend


Now the real question is: When are you supposed to attack, rally or defend?

This is where you need to put it all together to increase your chances of success on a tennis court.



ATTACK when you have a chance to move inside the baseline


DEFEND when your opponent forces you to back up or hits the ball hard enough so you don’t have much time to get set up


RALLY when you are close to the baseline and not feeling too rushed.


It is crucial to recognize these situations and be AWARE of them!!


Below are some common mistakes I often witness:


  • Players trying to hit winners when they are fifteen feet behind the baseline when they should be defending with a high cross-court shot.
  • Players being too conservative on short balls when they have a chance to put the ball away or come to the net to finish the point.
  • Players trying too hard while serving when their opponent’s return is not a threat.
  • Players going for risky returns when their opponent’s serve pushes them out of their comfort zone.


I can give you many more examples.

By using situation awareness you are in early and knowing how to respond will simplify your thought process on the court.

Making a decision will also improve the quality of your strokes because there will be very specific messages sent to the muscles.

So many people hit the ball without any precise objective, and they wonder why they miss!


The training of the mind will take a little time but being disciplined will certainly take your game to the next level.