Most players try to hit the ball away from their opponent. This is a great way to make them hit the ball on the run and draw some errors. However, playing the ball more down the center of the court at the beginning of the point will help you establish the consistency of your timing as well as increasing your target area.
Start by lining up your front shoulder with the center mark on the baseline and try to hold that position just prior to contacting the ball. When your timing is right, the ball will go directly towards the middle. It is a great thought to keep the first couple of balls after the serve and the return towards the center of the baseline and deep, and then direct the ball more towards the outside of the court.
Establishing consistent timing will allow you to hit the ball more confidently and aggressively as well as enabling you to control the speed, spin, and depth of your shot.
Remember, "middle solves the riddle" in both singles and doubles.
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