When playing a point the goal is for your opponent to make 1 of 5 mistakes; the 3 mistakes that end the point are your opponent missing in the net, long, or wide. The 2 mistakes that keep the point going are hitting into the middle of the court or leaving the ball short. The goal with any pattern of play is to create one of these situations, at any point in a rally if your opponent makes one of these mistakes it’s time to change gears and attack.
The patterns of play can be broken into different categories; control, hurt, and finish. Controlling your opponent is most efficiently accomplished with spin and depth. These patterns require little risk, hitting to big targets with spin, fun patterns include; 2,2,3 or 3,3,2. It is important to remember to hit high over the net to ensure depth with top spin pushing your opponent back. When hitting down the line with your forehand over recovering to create opportunities to utilize an inside out forehand.
Hurting your opponent is typically when your opponent makes the mistake of leaving the ball in the middle of the court or a little bit shorter, just not short enough for an approach shot. These patterns require a little more aggression to continue hurting your opponent. Jim Currier’s favorite pattern for hurting opponents was to use his inside out forehand progressively hitting a little shorter and wider every shot. This pattern pulls your opponent off the court while they continue to work hard recovering fearing the inside in forehand as an attacking shot. It’s important to note the more you go back to the inside out forehand the harder it is for your opponent to effectively cover the court. Changing directions often burns an opponent’s legs out much quicker than running sideline to sideline.
Finishing your opponent is typically when your opponent leaves the ball short enough for an approach shot or high enough in the middle of the court for you to take the ball comfortably at the perfect contact point. These patterns are typically no more than 3 shots in length because the point will be over. The most common is an aggressive forehand to a corner followed by a volley or overhead. These shots are power level 3, it is important to go after your target aggressively. While missing a shot here is less than ideal, focusing on creating the opportunity and going after your shots will help build confidence as you grow this part of your game.
An important component to remember with any pattern, the pattern is only good until the status quo changes. There will be times when you only hit one or two shots of your patterns before your opponent makes one of the five mistakes, there will be other times you will go through your patterns (or multiple patterns) before your opponent makes one of the five mistakes.
Pattern 2,2,3 and 3,3,2 are box targets. The box targets are
Box 1 – The deuce service box
Box 2 – Behind the service line on the deuce side
Box 3 – Behind the service line on the ad side
Box 4 – The ad service box
Power level 1 – soft enough for someone to catch at the net without getting hurt. This power level is ideal for drop shots, under spin chip shots, and sometimes passing shots.
Power level 2 – a pace that you can make 25 times in a row. This power level is ideal for control patterns and the first 2 shots in hurt patterns.
Power level 3 – as hard as you can hit keeping the ball in play. This power level is ideal for finish patterns and the last shot or two in hurt patterns.