Every time you hit the ball on the tennis court, you should have a purpose for your shot.
There are obviously times when your opponent has hit a very good shot and your options are limited. Even in this situation you can try to keep the ball deep, or low, or try to get it to the opponent's weaker side. On a neutral ball, try to get the opponent moving, hit aggressively towards the middle, or attack their weakness.
There should be very few shots that you hit when the purpose is to get the ball in or to hit a clean winner. These ideas occur when a player gets tentative (afraid they will miss), or when they get impatient and decide to go for broke. The best players rarely choose to simply get the ball in, or on the other end of the spectrum, not allow their opponent to touch the ball on their next shot.
The plan to get your opponent moving is always a good reason to hit a specific shot. Sometimes just changing the pace or hitting a slice instead of a topspin shot can be the reason you select a specific shot. If you feel you made a bad choice with your last shot on the previous point, ask yourself why you chose that shot. If the only answer you come up with is that you were trying to make the shot or if you were trying to win the point, you have not followed the idea about choosing your shot with a purpose in mind.
Regroup and come up with a plan for the next shot.
Steve Annacone, USPTA Elite Pro, is the Director of Annacone Tennis (http://www.annaconetennis.com) and MyHamptonsPro based in Sag Harbor, NY (http://www. myhamptonspro.com) and Tennis Professional at Ventana Canyon Golf and Racquet Club in Tucson, AZ. For details on lessons, clinics, or coaching, contact Steve at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 865-300-7323