Five laws for changing direction and going down the line.
It is important to realize that going down the line off a cross court ball is a risky proposition. There are two reasons for this:
Changing the angle of the ball off the strings means that you could catch it a little bit late and miss your target.
If your opponent follows up your down the line ball with another good cross court ball, he could seriously damage your court position, pulling you way wide of the alley.
Since we cant play cross court all the time, we will use a few guidelines to know when the time is right to go down the line:
1. Is it a shorter cross-court ball? This allows us to take time away from the opponents recovery by stepping in.
2. Different spin? If I decide to hit the high loopy ball or the low slice, both of these will give me ample time to protect my court space.
3. Bringing opponent into the net. This is a wonderful tactic off the cross court ball, essentially playing a drop shot or short slice and seeing if opponent will take the bait and come in, getting ready to use the lob to the backhand or passing shots.
4. On balance and in the strike zone. If I feel like my feet are set, I can transfer my weight forward into the shot, and I have my favorite contact point, then I will rip the big one.
5. Different contact point. If you are skilled at taking it on the rise, just like Agassi used to, then this is a great opportunity to attack while taking away time. Be advised, this is not easy and requires a lot of practice to be confident and reliable.
I hope these tips help you to be thoughtful and effective when changing direction!