Are you able to read spin? Do you observe the ball only and react after it bounces in front of you, or can you make educated anticipations according to your opponent’s court positioning and technical tendencies? If the latter is you, congratulations. During a rally, a ball travels from one racket to another. Is that it? Of course not. The unknowns that occur before, during and after contact comprise the essence of tennis. How well a player manages these seconds between shots determines his/her success on the tennis court. So, how best to manage these precious seconds?
The process must begin at least one shot before the shot in question. In other words, you must be able to anticipate the kind of spin likely to come off of your opponent’s racket in reaction to the shot you have just hit. This is how points are effectively constructed in tennis. Was the shot you hit especially flat whereas your general game is steady topspin oriented? Is your opponent skilled at deflecting flat shots back to you? Does he/she tend to react efficiently to such dramatic changes in pace? These split second deductions can be made visually, audibly or by recalling past scenarios.
Visually – Example : You can see that your opponent’s reaction to your shot was early/on time/late and you see the “spin consequence” of that fact in the ball that is being rallied back to you.
Audibly – Example : You can hear that your opponent’s shot was mishit and you hear the “spin consequence” of that fact in the ball that is being rallied back to you.
Recalling Past Scenarios – Example : You have seen your opponent in similar situations in the past, and instinctively know the “spin consequence” of that fact in the ball that is being rallied back to you.