How To Find The Correct Recovery Position - Tennis Court Coverage For Advanced Players

Do you know how to properly recover on a tennis court after you have played a shot?

If you believe that you must recover to the middle of the court, you are mistaken!

Read the following Q&A about proper tennis recovery to learn more...

Q: Hello Tomaz,

In squash the very first thing you are taught is, “Control the T”. Strategically, at every level of the game, all else flows from that.

It’s an extremely simple and actionable concept, and even a pure beginner can grasp its importance almost immediately. I’ve been trying to articulate similar concept for tennis, but I can’t get my head around it.

The closest I’ve seen is the 4 Basic Tennis Laws you explain in the Strategy Encyclopedia. However, although the 4 Laws create a foundation for good tennis (they’ve been working for me) they don’t encapsulate the strategic essence of the game with the same directness and practicality that “Control the T” does for squash.

Is this because strategically tennis is a more complex game (I find it so), and is therefore impossible to sum up so concisely? Or could it be because no one has cracked the code yet?

A: I don't know what it means to control the T in squash but I assume it's trying to stay in the middle of court and have your opponent run around.

Of course, there is the same concept in tennis and we usually talk about recovering. Your goal is to recover to the correct place on the court in order to be in the middle of the ANGLES your opponent can play.

The most common mistake is to recover to the middle. While this is good enough explanation for beginners, it doesn't work well when playing advanced tennis (and opponents).

The video below shows lots of great rallies between Roger Federer and different opponents he plays in which you can observe where each player is hitting from and where do they move to recover and cover the court well.

So How to Recover?

In case your (righthanded) opponent is in the backhand corner, you need to be slightly to the forehand (off the middle). That's because your opponent can play a cross court shot which will have you move MORE than the width of the singles court.

But if your opponent plays down the line, there's no way you have to move MORE than the singles sideline. So the middle angle / position of these two shots is NOT in the middle of the court, but slightly to the forehand. (righthander)

Refer to the picture below for basic recovery positions:

Tennis recovery position


1 Player - this is where player 1 has hit the ball and now has to recover to the "New position".

2 Player - this where player 2 will be hitting the ball from so player 1 needs to recover to the middle of all the possible angles.

Both extreme angles are marked with a blue dashed line (Cone shape return shot) and the middle of both these angles is the red dotted line (Target line).

This recovery position and taking care of your good position on the court is most of the times MORE IMPORTANT than how you are going to hurt your opponent.

Your goal then is to hurt your opponent without hurting yourself by losing good position on the court.

For other situations and how to recover on the tennis court check the following 8 pictures.

Other recovery positions in tennis

I would especially like to thank Claudio Corbetta from Italy for making these great images of recovery positions on the tennis court.



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