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ANGLE IN EQUALS ANGLE OUT

   
Geometry was never a subject I enjoyed much in school. Now, as I study the
game of tennis and transfer that knowledge to others, geometry has a much
greater importance.
   One such factor is the angle of contact. One rule in geometry is, “the angle
of entrance equals the angle of exit�. This means that a ball coming towards
the racquet at a 90 degree angle to the racquet string face will rebound at the
same 90 degree angle away from the racquet.
   One example that comes to mind the most is when a player is trying to volley a
ball into an open court.  Often players will try to make contact so that a
perpendicular string face is pointed towards where they want the ball to go. This
will cause a big miss on an apparent easy volley.
   Let’s say for instance that the opponent contacts a passing shot from the
corner of the baseline and the single sideline. The shot was hit towards the center
of the court. The volleyer tried to contact the ball exactly on the center service
line. The racquet string face is pointed or perpendular to the center of the court at
impact. The incoming angle of the ball would make the ball exit the strings at the
same angle and it would travel towards the opposite singles sideline and baseline
corner.
   Now if the player had angle their racquet string face towards the corner of the
opposite baseline and singles sideline the same incoming ball would exit at a wider
angle and would land well wide of the singles sideline.
   The key here is to recognize the incoming angle of the ball and aim for more of
the center of the court. This will allow for the angle of exit to take the ball away
from your opponent for an angled winner. Sure there are many other factors that
come into play, the spin of the ball, the direction of your swing, etc. but the main
point is that “angle in = angle out�.
   Many pros will tell you that it’s easier to return a shot the same direction the
ball came from. This keeps the racquet face contact at the 90 degree angle of
return. Any time you try to change the direction of the ball you will be dealing with
the geometry of “angle in = angle out�. That’s why it is harder and
more risky to try and change the direction of the ball.


Doug Hofer, USPTA         www.hofertennis.com             December 24, 2007
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angle of
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angle of
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