This playing elbow simple drill, as described in the accompanying diagram, can be useful to both Player A and Player B.
Player A can benefit in the following ways:
- He gains practice at aiming at the playing elbow of his opponent.
- He is able to practice exploiting the opportunities created by an opponent who fails to recover quickly and correctly after a stroke.
- His decision making should improve, since Player A has to decide quickly if Player B is vulnerable to a wide angled stroke, and in which direction.
Player B also receives a number of benefits from performing this drill:
- He must decide quickly whether to use his forehand or backhand to hit the ball that has been placed in the area around his playing elbow. As the ball moves a little to one side or the other of his playing elbow, Player B needs to be careful that he chooses his best option, which generally would be a backhand stroke for balls that land towards the backhand side of his playing elbow, and the same for forehands. Players with stronger forehands might wish to use their forehand against balls that land further to the backhand side of their playing elbow.
- He must concentrate on returning his racket to a neutral ready position, so that he can play a forehand or backhand with equal ease. This is excellent practice for matches, since it prevents Player B from committing to a particular stroke too early.
- He must also ensure that he recovers to a neutral playing position, depending on the line of play. If Player B moves to one side to play the ball, and forgets to move back into position, he will no longer be in the best ready location, and Player A will be able to take advantage of this by playing the ball to the wide angle that has been left open by Player B. This will teach Player B that he must always be looking to move to the best ready position for his next stroke.
- Player B can play the ball to Player A’s forehand instead. This results in the ball coming towards Player B’s playing elbow from a different angle – more across than into his body.
- If Player B fails to recover to a neutral playing location, Player A may wish to play the ball back to Player B’s playing elbow a second time, attempting to draw him even further out of position. If Player A is successful, he should have an easy winner when he switches to the wide angle stroke, since Player B should be unable to reach the ball.