The Art and Science of Victory
Tennis Styles

If you got no style, you got no game.

If you have the wrong style, you are at odds with your Self.

Your personality, grip system, ground strokes, tactics and strategy must be in harmony if your want to win.

Finding your Style with the Style Tool

Tennis Style Finder - A straight line drawn from the center should pass through your personality , strategy, grip system, forehand type, backhand type and even primary kill shot. A broken line is trouble.

This is a tool for determining what style you should have. If you are a beginner or intermediate you can start from the center - from your basic personality type, and you will be able to find your best strokes and strategies. Simple draw a straight line from the center to the edge.

If you are an experienced player, try drawing a straight line through your forehand, backhand, grip system etc. to discover if you or your coaches have made any poor choices (such as a patient dinker with a federer forehand).


Style Tool Key

Key to the Style Finder

The style tool is a guide to finding a harmonious mix of these key elements:

  1. Personality Type - If you are impatient, you shouldn't try to outwait your opponent. Impatience is a form of energy that can be channeled into aggression. Don't think if impatience as a fault - think of it as a gift from God. Patience is also a gift, as is being Normal. Whatever you basic personality type is, it can help you win with the right tools.
  2. Playing Styles -
    • Dinkers - (aka the Human Backboards) The players we love to hate. Dinkers keeps the ball in play - high and down the middle, until their opponent makes an error .Virtues required: foot speed, strength, endurance and, above all, incredible patience
    • Placement Players - (aka. the Vivisectionists) Often mistaken for dinkers, these players don't just keep the ball in play - every ball they hit is designed to weaken their opponent's position, induce an error or put their opponents out of position. These players know what you choke on and thrive on feeding it to you. They slowly pull your game apart and leave you feeling like a beginner. Virtues required: superb stroke production and variety, foot speed, precise placement and patience ..patience.
    • Heavy Top - Dinkers with pace, these players hang on the baseline and hit high, looping topspins. They don't usually try to force the point unless you get cheeky and charge the net, then they unleash their passing shots. Virtues required: endurance, foot speed, strength.
    • Run & Gun - This is the pre-eminent style today. It is like heavy top with winners from the baseline. These players take any short ball and hit it for a winner. Their ground strokes are hit with topspin but they can flatten them out to achieve pace and penetration. Virtues required: explosive power ...period.
    • Serve & Volley - (aka Serve & Smash) You don't see much of this style anymore. High-tech racquets, the popularity of topspin and two-handed backhands have made the net a very dangerous place. But, if you have a big serve and don't own a monster forehand, then this can be a very effective strategy. Virtues required: big..Big..BIG serve, excellent touch and solid volleys and overhead.
  3. Forehand Grip - The grip systems ring is at the center of the wheel for good reason-it is the core of an effective strategy. The forehand grip must match your primary forehand stroke. Examples: You can't hit heavy top with a continental grip. You can't hit a descent volley or overhead with a semi-western grip.
  4. Primary Forehand Stroke - should support the strategic objectives of the playing style, e.g. a slice forehand is best for hitting the approach shots that let the serve & volleyer chip and charge to the net.
  5. Primary Backhand Stroke - usually a more defensive shot, the backhand should cover any weaknesses of the strategy. If your backhand is your stronger side then it should directly support your strategic objectives. Thus a dinker should shy away from the two handed backhand as it decreases reach and forces you to hit the ball harder and waste energy.
  6. Primary Kill Shot - If you hit any winners, this is the shot that usually results in a winner given your chosen style. Even a dinker can hit a winner by lobbing over the head of a player's who crowds the net.



Styles of Well Known Pros Pro Styles - Well known pro player styles.

This graphic demonstrates the use of the Style Wheel to analyze the games of several professional tennis players. Note that the players in the upper quadrant are more current, and those in the lower ar more ...well...historic. That does not mean that games like placement and serve & volley are inferior to the more modern, topspin based games. All of these styles are equally effective, and you are better off picking a style that suits your own personality and experience then trying to copy the games of the current flock of pros.

More importantly, if you can't draw a straight line from the center of the wheel that intersects with the elements of your game, then you have got a problem. If you are using a semi-western topspin grip but are a serve & volleyer, you are used to having your own pace and the high bounce of your approach shots thrown back at you at net.

Which Style is Superior?


If you can recall the old 'Rock - Paper - Scissors' game of childhood then you will understand why the question above is nonsensical. As illustrated on the right, each style has advantages over one or more of the others but there is no clear 'winner'. All things equal, Serve and Volleyers beat Dinkers because dinkers like to hit soft, high shots down the middle - just what volleyer wants to see. They don't want to face hard topspins that dip to their ankles, so Serve and Volleyers are beaten by Heavy Top spinners. Dinkers generally beat placement players because dinkers are doing less with the ball and are fast of foot so it is hard to drive them out of position.

The better question is 'What style is best for me?' Style is only a tool that a better player uses to win. That tool can help or hinder your efforts depending on how carefully you assemble the elements of your game. It is the very essence of Sun Szu's admonition to 'know yourself'.

Human Backboard