Platform tennis can be a great way to get out and exercise while channeling your competitive spirit. Whether you're a regular down at your local court or you've never heard of platform tennis, we've got you covered with some great tennis tips that will help improve your game.
WHAT IS THIS PLATFORM TENNIS?
Before we get to the platform tennis tips, what is platform tennis? It's an American racket sport enjoyed by people of all ages and ability levels. Platform tennis is essentially a mix of lawn tennis and racquetball. Like tennis, the ball can bounce on the ground once before you have to return it; but like racquetball, the ball can play off of walls. Interestingly, it's the only racket sport that can be enjoyed outdoors in the winter snow, and it's enjoyed everywhere from private facilities to backyards. There are highly competitive leagues and tournaments as well as purely recreational matches all across the country.
The game is played on an aluminum deck that looks identical to a tennis court, but is 1/3 the size and surrounded by a 12' high wall made of "chicken wire" fencing that allows the ball to play off the walls like in racquetball or squash. Historically, the game has been played on an elevated court or platform. This is due to the conditions the game was founded under. When the sport was invented in 1928, the founders erected the first court on the side of a hill, using a platform to keep it level and help with snow removal.
In today's world, many of the platform tennis courts have gas-powered heating systems under the deck and lighting systems allowing players to play at night even in the winter. As the game spreads in popularity, the courts are adapting to their climates. For instance, in areas in the south or in the west, there is no need for an elevated platform due to warmer temperatures and lack of snow. This helps provide spectators with a better view and also keeps the construction costs down.
Platform tennis paddles are made of a composite material with aerodynamic holes drilled in the head, instead of the wiring system that tennis rackets use. Paddles are approximately 18" long, considerably shorter than the 27-29" tennis racket. The spongy, rubber ball is 2.5" in diameter, slightly smaller than a tennis ball, and employs a flocking material on its exterior to keep the ball from skidding.
Do I Need to Improve My Game?
There's always room for improvement. The better you become and the more skills and knowledge of the game you gain, the more fun playing becomes. It's a great way to enjoy fresh air, competition, and social engagement. To get the most out of platform tennis, you should always be looking for tennis tips to improve your game. The beautiful part is when you turn around and teach those tennis tips to the younger or less experienced players you meet at the court.
Platform Tennis Tips to Help Improve Your Game
Platform tennis is a beautiful game because a player with less physical talent can handily beat a physically talented player with strategy and positioning. These platform tennis tips will help you become that strategically sound player.
The first and most important tip is don't miss! Most points are decided by errors, not winning shots. Be patient and keep the ball in play. Due to the walls, platform tennis doesn't reward power like lawn tennis does.
Always take the high percentage shot. Sometimes it can be tempting to smash the ball and go for the kill right away. However, refer to tip #1 above before succumbing to this mentality. Most points are decided by errors, not winning shots. If you reduce your mental mistakes, your game will improve tremendously.
Winning shots are usually preceded by one or two shots that force the opposition out of place, making the winner an easy shot. So, to drill the point home, be patient! Your shot will come. Work to get to the net, the team at the net has the advantage.
Focus on your position in relation to your partner. Consider how many points you have lost not because the opponent has forced you out of position, but because you were not in the right position, to begin with. Together with your partner, you can only cover about two-thirds of the court. Therefore, focus on defending the two-thirds of the court where the ball is most likely to go - the opponent's high percentage shot - and don't worry about the other third. That part of the court is for you to win points on their errors.
While at the net, if the ball is coming from the direction of the left corner, your side should be lined up to cover the left two-thirds of the court. You and your partner should be constantly moving in unison to cover the proper two-thirds of the court depending on which direction the ball is coming from.
Where should you hit the overhead shot? In most cases, it's best to hit it to the backhand side of either opponent. This forces a defensive return shot. Though some players have the skill to drive from both sides, most players have a stronger forehand.
As long as you keep your opponent at or behind their baseline, there's a good chance you can handle any return. It's just physics; it gives you more time to react and play the ball off the wall if you have to.
Players with a hard serve rarely have time to get all the way to the net after they serve it, so they are subject to a return drive or chip beneath knee level. This creates a tough upward volley that usually turns over control of the point. On the other hand, a slower serve gives the server more time to get closer to the net for an effective volley, but it also gives the opponent a better chance to move in and hit the drive.
Either way, the pace of serve can work against you. To partially offset this, find a comfort zone with your pace that gives you confidence that the ball will be fairly put in play, then work on positioning the ball to your opponent's weakness. Consider hitting right at your opponent, forcing him/her to move away from the ball while trying to hit an effective shot. This may produce a weak shot that allows you to move closer to the net and set up for the drive. Either way, remember that the goal when serving is to gain control of the net, not to win the point outright.
The drive rarely wins points when the other team is properly positioned at the net. Therefore, your first objective should be to get them out of position and open up some high percentage space. Do this by observing their behavior and discussing it with your partner. If they are both hugging the net, the lob can be very effective. You don’t have to try for the baseline; that’s the one-shot-winner mentality.
Just try to get it behind the service line. After several lobs like that, one or both opponents will change position to two or three steps off the net. Then you can look for an opportunity to drive or chip the ball at their feet, opening up a potential change of point control. To be an excellent offensive player, you must always hit to the high percentage open space. When it’s not there, work to create it.
Lastly, watch the ball! The most elementary of the platform tennis tips so far, but by no means the least important. Platform tennis is a sport of fast reactions, both mentally and physically. There are a lot of shots hit in a small space in short time intervals, and you are forced to make quick, reactionary decisions. In the midst of all this, you or your partner could be having an off day. To break out of this rut, focus on the ball, not the other players or where you intend on hitting the ball. Simplify the game in your head. Remind your partner or yourself after a bad shot to just "watch the ball." This can do wonders in turning around a bad game.
These basic platform tennis tips, if employed properly, will improve your game whether you're a beginner or you've been playing for years. Sometimes it's good to revisit the basics. If you are a tennis player, you will have a leg up on a beginner without a background in racket sports. Also, platform tennis can help your lawn tennis game in areas like picking up the ball quicker with your eyes and reaction time due to the smaller surface area of the court. Hopefully, these platform tennis tips will inspire you to get out and enjoy a new game or improve your play of the game you already love. Have fun!