Tennis Strategies for Short Players to Improve Your Game

Tennis strategies for short players

In the game of tennis, strategies for short players are very important if not fundamental if you don’t have an important height. During the last 30-40 years the game of tennis changed completely so instead of playing with wooden racquets, serve and volley and only attacking tennis from the net now we see more often the match played on the service or with the returns in a defensive position but still applying a lot of power.

So the physical evolution as in many other sports did a lot with the techniques to train, eat and even psychologically the players are more ready when it comes to a match. Power can be trained via specific techniques in the gym, with weights or body weights exercises and even with more modern equipment however, there is something that cannot be changed, yet. Your height. So a player who’s 160cm against a player who is 200cm will always have a disadvantage?

Well, most of the time the answer is yes but as all the things disadvantages comes with advantages. The taller player generally serves much better, with more consistency and more power which is generated not from his arm but from the grade of bending and from the height he hits the ball which cannot be replicated by a 160cm players however the shorter player can apply tennis strategies for short players to his game.

This strategy consists of a variation of the service which can be done with a slice service, implying this would be much more difficult to reach for a tall player who has limited movement around the court compared to the short but quick tennis player. In addition to this, the short player will have to be prepared to return a considerable amount of first services from the opponent, and doing so as the service from the tall player is usually very powerful he will have to learn to manage his power on the return.

So, does height affect tennis, and is height advantage in tennis?

Yes, it does. It would be silly to reply with a no on such a question. It does give you some advantages in terms of power, service, and forehead however if we consider tall players such as Isner who is 208cm it does give you also some handicap in the returns and this is where you have to play if you are a much shorter player. Isner for instance while serving consistently with a strong, powerful, and precise service has a very big difficulty in returning on his backhand as his height doesn’t allow him to prepare for this shot in a short amount of time.

So, most of the players when finding him as an opponent on tour wait, patiently for his error in the serve ( which can come even after ¾ games in a row of successful aces) and then shoot at his backhand side to put him on the defensive side for the remaining of the game. So height is an advantage but the short players can still defend well themselves. So at this point which strategies should we use as short players against the tall ones?

5 Tennis strategies for short players

  1. Try as much as you can to stand further back in the court as playing from the baseline would definitely give you the advantage
  2. Apply more defensive strategies to your game and extend as much as possible rallies
  3. Don’t let the opponent dominating you but instead, as much as you can attack, play aggressively and mix deep balls with speed
  4. As soon as you can attack the opponent and try the volley option close to the net
  5. Always try to let the taller player run as this would make them uncomfortable so the drop shot is a very valuable option

Who is the smallest male player in tennis?

Right now the smallest professional player in the ATP nowadays is Diego Schwartzman, the Argentinian player is only 170cm but he still managed to join the best 8 players in the finals in London in 2020. He develops his technique and still managed to reach the Quarterfinals in the Grand Slam on clay, which is the surface where the service (which is the main advantage for tall players) counts the least due to its bounce on the surface which slows the pace of the ball.

What is the average height of a tennis male player?

The average height of the tennis players in the male circuit is 187.8cm while in the female circuit it’s 170cm so we can see the difference here. As many studies were done there isn’t much difference in the percentage of first-serve between 170cm and 190cm but the gap starts to exist from 193cm and above in terms of power, speed, and efficiency in the service. So for the women’s circuit, the height isn’t as important when you check at the first 10 players in the world.

While in the male circuit, 4 out of the 10 players are above 193cm and here in few years we will probably find this statistic even more clear as Federer, Nadal, Djokovic are all below 193cm and are all above 33 years old( meaning they can’t have so many seasons in their tank).  The trend is getting more and more evident if we check the quarter-finals of the last tournament as the percentage is already getting higher. The examples are here below of the last two Majors quarter-final players, Thiem will be the winner in the final with Zverev.

US OPEN 2020 Quarterfinals height:

Pablo CarrenoBusta: 187 cm

Denis Shapovalov: 185 cm

Borna Coric: 188 cm

Alexander Zverev: 198 cm

Andrey Rublev: 187 cm

Daniil Medvedev: 193 cm

Alex de Minaur: 183 cm

Dominic Thiem: 185 cm

So as you can see here 5 out of 8 players are above 185cm. Below you can make the comparison with the last major players, the Australian Open with the final winner been Novak Djokovic in the final with Medvedev.

AUSTRALIAN OPEN 2021 Quarterfinals height:

Daniil Medvedev: 193  cm

Rafael Nadal: 185 cm

Stefanos Tsitsipas: 193 cm

Novak Djokovic: 187 cm

Aslan Karatsev: 185 cm

Alexander Zverev: 198 cm

Andrey Rublev: 187 cm

Grigor Dimitrov: 192 cm

Here, above you can see how 6 out of the 8 quarter-finalists are above 185 cm. So the rate here of players taller than 185 cm is even higher, 80% of them are taller.

To Sum Up

Surely height can help a lot in tennis but you can still find some ways to be good with your tennis especially at a lower level where tall players don’t have yet those high percentage on service. Try our tennis strategies for short players to improve your game.

READ MORE: Tennis Serve for Short Players

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