We all get them, hate ourselves for having them, and likely lose more points because of them during the course of a match. It’s the dreaded unforced error, or UE for short.

You know the ones – dumping an easy ball into the net, blowing a shot wide or long when you had the whole court open. The list goes on.

At the recreational, club and league play levels, I think you’d be shocked at the number of UE’s counting for lost points rather than simply getting beat by an opponent’s outright winner or well-played shot.

Challenge yourself sometime and try to count how many UE’s you make in the course of a set, or even a game for that matter.

Here are some ways that just might help you start curing this more-common-than-the-common-cold tennis ailment.

  • Learn and understand the difference between hitting high and low percentage shots. A high percentage shot allows you a greater margin for error, meaning you’re more likely to keep the ball in play. So unless there’s a good reason to go for that unbelievably difficult but oh-so-gratifying winner (if you make it), take the more consistent, sure-bet shot.
  • Try hitting with some topspin instead of under-spin or flat. Topspin brings the ball down into the court after clearing the net, while under-, or back-spin, makes it rise and prone to sail out.
  • Hitting flat shots, like under-spin, is low percentage and similar to a line drive in baseball. More than not, these usually end up being out.
  • Hit over the center area of the net. It’s the net’s lowest point – the net gets a full six inches higher at either end. Anytime you can hit across the center rather than down the line is a better percentage shot.
  • Move closer to the net because, relative to you, the net gets lower and the court widens. This increases your margin for error and opens more of your opponent’s court to your shots.
  • Hitting crosscourt gives better percentage results than down the line due to the net being lower in the middle and the diagonal path of the ball creating a longer court to hit into.

Lou Marino is a USPTA Cardio & Youth Tennis Coach who lives and teaches in the greater Bluffton/Hilton Head Island area.