We are going to discuss some simple judgement errors that are common, even among the pros, but far more common as we go down from 7.0 to 2.5 through the USTA scale.

Tennis can be described very simply in terms of three phases: OFFENSIVE, NEUTRAL, DEFENSIVE

We will start with NEUTRAL PHASE because it is the foundation of the tennis game.

In regular terms, the person who is able to win the neutral phase will be the first person to cause an error, or cause the opponent to drop the ball short, therefore allowing an opportunity to move up into offensive phase.

Over the course of 20 or more points, the person who is able to more consistently win the neutral phase and create the opportunity to transition into offensive phase, will have the greater probability of winning.

We must take a look at some of the tools necessary to have a superior neutral phase skill set:

  • Consistency
  • Depth
  • Accuracy
  • Placement
  • Good court positioning and understanding of court space
  • Good use of zone 1 (Low) and zone 3 (High) balls
  • Ability to absorb pace with accuracy
  • Excellent split step timing
  • Reaction time
  • A better cross court ball than opponents

Training neutral phase is important and critical for good point construction.

Patience and excellent mental training are required to stay in neutral phase. Encourage yourself to play at neutral phase as long as possible because it is a great deal to learn.

When practice, try to ask yourself:

  • How many neutral phases am I winning?

Have fun and enjoy thinking about this.

Read more about phase play in our "PHASE PLAY: OFFENSIVE & DEFENSIVE" article.

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