The following is a reprint from The Tom Stow Tennis Teaching System

The Forcing Game

The forcing game is based on the principle of continuous pressure.  It is a game for advanced players who have acquired all the strokes and therefore are able to control the ball from all positions.  I t should be called an “All Court Forcing Game” for it is too often confused with just a net game.  Coming into the net is definitely a part of the game and should be used as a climax to many rallies or when the opponent hits a short shot, but is only a part of the whole.  A player who can make sound “coming in” shots and can volley accurately will be a constant worry, for his opponent in trying not to hit short balls will tend to make more errors than he would otherwise.

To play the “All Court Forcing Game” it is necessary to have;

(1) A strong first serve and an accurate spin for the second serve.  A hard first serve, which will put the opponent on the defensive and cause errors, is of course the best.  However, this is not absolutely essential but a serve that will keep the opponent from making a forcing shot is essential;

(2) The ground strokes, both forehand and backhand must be sound so that (a) the return of the serve be deep: (b) the shots from the back court be firm and well placed and (c) the coming in shot be hit flat on the top of the bounce. 

(3) The volley must be accurate and fast enough to put the ball away.   A blocked volley is not enough, a player with only this type of shot cannot win the point when the opening appears.

(4) The smash is a must in this type of play for the opponent of a player with a weak overhead can lob defensively too often.  This does not give the forcing player enough percentage off of his approach shots and he will find himself in trouble.  Smashes, like volleys, must be put away, not only from the standpoint of winning the point but also the mental effect such shots will have on the opponent.

The player of this “All Court Forcing Game” must always keep in mind the fact the he is playing another human being and that the pressure he is applying has a very definite effect on the mental attitude of his opponent.

It takes nerve, determination, and strokes to play this type of game and only the strong will master it.  However, from these few will emerge the future great players of the world.


  • ilias

    Reply Reply March 6, 2013


  • Chuck

    Reply Reply February 13, 2013

    Yes, very excellent stuff from the best minds in tennis. This is very much how I teach as well. Must play aggressive, but solid from the baseline area in rallys. Transition shots should be lower, firm and well targeted to attack. Volleys and overheads need to be good enough to finish the work started by the transition attack shots. A Strong first serve is great, and a very solid 2ond serve is a must, along with being able to dictate on return of second serves. Simple formula that covers all the forcing basics and it lets you know what you need to master.

  • George Stewart

    Reply Reply October 31, 2012

    Oveall, this is about as sound as any instruction or advice one could get from any pro today. George

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