How To Hit Short Balls With Power

Aggressive Mindset

Players that don’t hit the ball very hard and play passively are popularly called “pushers”. They want you to try to fall prey to their game, so don’t get caught in this trap.

One of the keys to generating your own pace is to have an aggressive mindset.

When preparing to play a point, commit to the process of attacking any a short ball that lands around the service line.
If the ball the opponent sends your way doesn’t seem to have any pace and feels wimpy, don’t back off on the power, technique and mental focus required to hit a high-quality shot.

Take the opportunity to be aggressive and seize it.

Swing Path

You can start punishing short balls by focusing on having the correct swing path on the shot. When you get a ball that bounces high and out of your strike zone, you still need to adjust your swing path and swing more across your body.

Many players like the idea of swinging down to the pocket (high to low type swing) instead of low to high. You want to set the racquet higher when the ball gets up out of your strike zone and then swing across and down aggressively.

It is easier to get more racquet head acceleration when you do this.

This will allow you to generate b pace but still being able to bring the ball down into the court.

When approaching short balls, we need to use the correct footwork, which is called the lift and land in order to get in a good position to hit a powerful shot. Players who like to stay on the baseline have problems attacking short balls, because they are not moving up into the court and getting in a comfortable position.

This hesitation makes you late to the ball and you simply can’t attack. When the ball lands short and you do get up to the ball, use the lift and land footwork pattern when the ball is in your strike zone.

As the ball approaches get on the front foot and hop slightly off the court, as you hit the ball. Use that momentum to propel yourself forward in order to come to the net.

When you get a higher bouncing short ball, you should handle it differently and load the outside leg, jump in the air as you hit the ball, and land on the front foot, before you come forward to the net to finish the point.

This footwork pattern will keep you stable on higher balls and allow you to attack them.


It’s essential that you’re clear on your targets. In other words, know exactly see you will aim on the short balls so that there is no indecision and you can swing freely.

You should always have a target in mind when hitting the ball. When trying to crush a short ball with no pace, you could try aiming low over the net and just past the service line.

This kind of target will help you keep from spraying the balls long.

Use the above tips to boost your confidence when hitting slower paced balls around the service line. Once you get comfortable punishing those sitters you’ll start winning a lot more matches against passive players and so called “pushers”.

By Jeff Salzenstein, Founder Tennis Evolution |
Jeff is a former top 100 ATP player and USTA high performance coach committed to helping players and coaches all over the world improve.

P.S. – Ready to take it to the next level with your tennis?
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