Many times you will hear teaching professionals and
television commentators speak about a certain player's
weapon. We would consider a weapon to be a shot that we
could hit offensively to either win or set up a point so
that our opponent is either off the court or in a bad
position to recover. Its great to have a shot that you can
rely on in a pressure situation - the big first serve, the
inside out forehand, and the low chip return are just a few
shots that could be considered weapons by some players.
I think it is important to know what your strengths
and weapons are during the match. It is vital that players
not try to invent shots during match play but only execute
those shots they've accomplished in practice. However, if
you are walking away with a match it can be hard not to try
that new kick serve you've just learned! How do we
determine what shots have become our weapons.
Lets take the serve as an example. Suppose you are
known for your big kick serve that you get in to your
opponent's backhand. Every time you get the big kicker in
to anyone's backhand you win the point. Wouldn't you
consider that a weapon? But what if I told you in the same
example that you only got in that serve once per game!
That hardly shows any consistency with the big shot. If you
hit an ace and followed it with three double faults would
it be considered a weapon? Recently I charted a local
doubles team in a match. I asked both players on our team
what shot they felt like they hit really well and both
players said forehand returns. They both had more winners
on their forehand returns than any other shot they
attempted. But they also both had more than double the
unforced errors on the same shot! Was it really a weapon?
It may help you to have a match charted and find out
where your winners and errors occur. In my opening
definition of weapon I noted "shots that you hit
offensively," but what if I had added "and consistently"?
Would it have changed your idea of a weapon. Know what
shots you are capable of hitting before going into any match
and use the shots you can hit big, consistently, and under
pressure as your weapons. You might just find a weapon you
didn't know you had!