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Cheating in Tennis: 3 Tips to Get Better, Faster

10/01/2014, 5:00am PDT
By Kelvin Cech

If you're not cheating, you're not trying to win, right?


How many different ways can you cheat at sports?

  • Pop a bunch of human growth hormones
  • Sabotage your rival’s knee, Tonya Harding-style
  • Pay off the referee or official

None of these tactics will get you very far in the world of sports, unless your goal is to forever enshrine yourself as one of the most gutless athletes ever to walk the planet.


Cheating is tempting because of the pressure we put on ourselves to win. As Julia Van and Shelley Hoodspith told us a few months ago, playing tennis awakens primal instincts of competition and ruthlessness.

The good thing about tennis is that cheating is synonymous with improvement.

This winter, just when your game is in danger of getting stale, employ these three tactics to get the upper hand.

1. How Long is Your Warmup?

The quickest and easiest way to cheat is to be at your best the instant your match begins. Instead of stretching out for five minutes and then jumping right into a game, tune your body to the exact frequency necessary for optimal performance

Don't worry about a lack of energy once the match starts. If you hit the court running (figuratively), then you’ll have a better chance of getting the upper hand on your opponent early.

The game should start with you playing your best. If you aren’t exhausted by the end of the match, then add more time or intensity to your warmup next time. 

2. Tennis is All About Footwork

According to the North Shore Winter Club’s Fabio Walker, footwork is a crucial element of the game that casual players don’t take seriously enough. Fabio says that we need to “feel the court and use it to our advantage.” When you have better footwork than your opponent, you’re automatically at an advantage in every point. 

What are we improving with faster feet?

  1. Better straight-ahead speed
  2. Increased dynamic agility
  3. Faster stops & starts

Sounds like an ad for HGH supplements, no? 

Improving these aspects of your footwork will get you to loose balls quicker and give your mind more time to react. Faster feet will also help you reduce errors and improve your stamina.

3. Focus Your Game Around One Tactic

This element only counts as cheating if it works.

Let me explain.

Let’s say you go into a match hell-bent on demolishing your opponent with a super-human serve.

This is a great tactic if your opponent has difficulty returning serves. If their reaction is slow, then you’ll be able to cheat your way into an easy victory. If they move quickly and brush off your Raonic-like serves with ease, then the mental preparation you devoted to your serve was a waste of time. 

Make sense?

The other problem is that other areas of your game are bound to suffer if you haven’t given them the same attention. 

So, let’s say you decide to keep your opponent pushed back with deep shots. This might work if they’re a power-hitter that lacks accuracy. You’ll have more time to react, and they’ll go crazy trying to play a game that isn’t suited to their style.


When it comes to playing an individual-based sport like tennis, there’s nowhere to hide from your competition. Sure, in a technical sense, it might not actually be considered cheating to improve a specific aspect of your game or your conditioning, but finding the right advantage will have a drastic effect on the outcome of each match.

In other words, you might not think it’s cheating, but the rage and frustration on your opponent’s face will hopefully indicate that they think you’re cheating. 

Which probably means you’re also winning.

photo credit: calonda via photopin cc

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