Beating the Moonballers

I think anyone who has played tennis, knows the frustration a playing against a moonballer. A moonballer is someone who just lops every shot high into the air pinning their opponent against the back fence. This is a very effective tactic in junior tennis as it takes a lot of skill to beat a player who doesn’t miss, never mind one who keeps putting the ball in such an uncomfortable position. Their whole game is based around you making more unforced errors than winners and until you can hit more winners than unforced errors they will always beat you.

So how do we beat them?
If you want a quick result against them, the best thing you can do to win is play like them, but be even tougher than them, the problem with this approach is yes you will win a lot in your early years but as your opponents develop better weapons, they will learn to counter this style and blow you off the court, this is why you don’t see this style at professional level.

So as a coach I don’t recommend this approach as you will never play at an elite level if you do and as a coach I feel that its my job to give the technical and tactical information that will allow you to be the best player you can be, with the only factors stopping you from achieving this being how hard you are willing to work and your talent.

My recommendations are first understand good shot selection, in the words of Brad Gilbert, don’t force your opportunity, wait for your opportunity
Many players try to just hit winners of every shot against these players, which means they are playing a huge amount of low percentage balls and loosing badly, remember they only win if you miss, so hit good consistent looping topspin balls back until they hit a weaker ball then attack that ball and move forward so you can finish them off from out of the air next shot with your volleys and smashes. Doing this means your playing much higher percentage tennis and are more likely to hit more winners than unforced errors.

If only it was this easy to beat them, what will happen when you first do this is you will probably find your not consistent enough with your attacking shots and you will still be making more errors than winners, frustrating yes, but your now on the right track.

Now we have our shot selection right we need to improve our attacking shots to make them consistent, this requires lots work on our putaways, drive volleys, normal volleys and smashes, this is where parents come in very handy, as your coach wont see you enough (unless your very rich) to do enough drilling of these shots to make them consistent, the coach can teach you the technique’s and tell you what to practice, but its up to you to do the hours.

Now after you play a moonballer and loose question yourself, did I try the right things, or was I too impatient in waiting for my opportunity, if you feel you tried to do everything right, great your nearly there, now figure which shot let you down and get out and work on it, if you keep to this process you will soon master the moonballer and will have taken your game to the next level.

PS This is a long process, be patient with it and you will reap the rewards and to non tennis playing parents, understand this is hard and don’t get frustrated with your child when they loose to these seemingly weaker players, who though they don’t have a bright future in tennis they are very difficult to beat, encourage your child to develop a good game and not worry about immediate results, do this and they will soon be betting these players and be on their way to becoming the best they can be.