How To Reduce Unforced Errors In Tennis? (Tips & Tricks)

Making as few errors as possible during a match is very important for a tennis player. After all, this can mean the difference between winning or losing. So, how do you reduce unforced errors in tennis?

To reduce the number of unforced errors in tennis, practice your strokes as much as possible. It also helps you improve your fitness, apply percentage tennis, use the right strokes at the right time, play cross court, use topspin, hit high over the net, and don't hit too hard.

In this article, I will explain to you all the above tips in detail. When you apply these tips yourself, you will find that the number of unforced errors will decrease significantly.

What is an Unforced Error?

In tennis, a player commits an unforced error when they make a mistake that is not a result of their opponent but rather their own fault. 

For example, if you hit a good shot and your opponent returns the ball to you slowly, if you then miss this easy shot, this is considered an unforced error.

On the other hand, if the opponent forces you in an uncomfortable position, for example, making you hit your shot while running, then a mistake is considered a forced error rather than an unforced error.

So, if an opponent forces you into a mistake, it’s a forced error. It is an unforced error if you miss a shot that doesn’t present any particular difficulties. This is the difference between forced and unforced errors in tennis.

How to Stop Making Unforced Errors in Tennis?

Reducing unforced errors is the most efficient way to improve your tennis.

Winners may be the flashy shots of tennis, but consistent groundstrokes attempting to slowly gain an advantage are the most important thing in tennis.

Reducing your own unforced errors will lead to fewer unnecessary point losses, better positions in points, and more unforced errors from your opponent.

Of course, you will never eradicate unforced errors from your game. Even the very best players commit several every match. Instead, it is about reducing them as much as possible and diminishing their impact on your matches.

Here are some of the best tips and tricks to reduce unforced errors in tennis:


It’s very obvious, but the best thing to do to reduce unforced errors is to practice all your strokes until they become natural and a habit to you.

As you become more confident, you will make fewer mistakes and be able to generate more power in your shots while still avoiding mistakes.

All the other tips and tricks you learn will certainly help. However, none of them can replace practice.

You can practice in lessons or by just playing with friends or family; just make sure to get out on that tennis court and play as regularly as you can.

Improve your fitness:

Once again quite obvious. The fitter and more in shape you are affects how well you perform on the tennis court. This is because tennis is a physically demanding sport.

A lack of fitness is one of the biggest reasons for committing unforced errors: as you get more tired, you move your legs, feet, and arms less and your shots decrease in quality, which of course, leads to more unforced errors.

If you improve your fitness, you will find playing tennis easier, especially as the points and matches go on. Combined with practicing, these two factors will improve your tennis the most and are crucial to progress.

Understanding percentage tennis:

Percentage tennis and shots may be a term you have heard but not fully understood yet.

It refers to putting the odds in your favor during the point: hitting the shot that will give you the most chance to win the point (not necessarily straight away) while taking into account the risk of the shot.

For example, if your opponent is on one side of the court and gives you a relatively easy shot, then your best shot (almost certainly) is an attacking shot to the other side of the court.

Importantly, this does not need to be a winner: the harder you hit the shot, the riskier it is. It also doesn’t need to be right in the corner, as this also increases your chances of missing.

It is about finding the balance between these things and, therefore, maximizing your chances while reducing your risks.

Tennis isn’t all about big shots and winners; it is about being consistently better than your opponent during a match.

Once you understand percentage tennis, you will find your game improving. Next are some tips linked to percentage tennis that should really help.

  • Topspin:

A topspin shot is generally the safest shot to hit in tennis. Topspin, the opposite of backspin, refers to hitting the ball in a way that makes it spin forwards.

This allows you to hit the ball higher, making sure that the ball clears the net while then dropping quickly, meaning it is less likely to miss the court on the other side.

If you watch professional tennis players, the majority will hit a topspin shot in most cases. Their shots will clear the net by a meter or so and force their opponent into a difficult position, thanks to the ball bouncing high.

Hitting the ball flat will allow you to generate more power, but topspin gives you more space, comfort, and chances of success in most shots.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that all your shots should be topspin; backspin and flat shots still absolutely have their place in tennis.

That is why it is all about hitting the right shot at the right time. With more experience and practice, this will become easier.

  • Cross court tennis:

Like topspin, most shots you see professional players hitting will be cross court. Again, this is an easier shot to make as the ball has more space to travel into and more time to fall into the court.

Down the line, the net is higher, and the court is a lot shorter. This sometimes allows you to hit winners down the line that your opponent has less time to react to, which you should be attempting from time to time.

However, to reduce unforced errors in tennis, playing cross court is your friend most of the time.

  • Hitting the ball less hard:

For many players, the temptation of smacking the ball as hard as they can or attempting winners as often as they can is too much and leads to lots of mistakes.

However, you’re not doing yourself any favors when you miss these shots more often than making them (which is very likely unless you’re a professional player).

Hitting the ball softer gives you much more control and doesn’t necessarily hinder you. You can place the ball more accurately with softer hits and get your opponent to run all over the court.

Of course, you still need to be competitive, and if your opponent is knocking out winners on each of your softer shots, you need to change something.

However, you can also win tennis points by getting your opponents to make mistakes.

The more you get the ball in the court, the more likely they are to commit a mistake, and with softer shots, you’ll get the ball in the court more often.

Shot selection:

This is similar to the previous points but is absolutely necessary and worth repeating. Shot selection is what transforms a good player into a great one or a great one into an excellent one.

Most of the time, this means hitting slower, topspin shots cross court. However, if a ball is traveling to you slowly in the middle of the court, it is important to go for a winner, at least sometimes.

This may not immediately lead to fewer unforced errors because, as we’ve discussed, playing the less risky shots will lead to fewer errors.

You can’t always go for the easy shot, though, and by picking the right time to hit the riskier shots, you will reduce your unforced errors in those situations.

It will also make you less predictable to your opponent, which is another advantage.

Tennis is all about balance and consistency. Once you fully understand that, you will start improving considerably on the tennis court and making far fewer unforced errors.


So, there is no hack to eliminate your unforced errors or a trick to make them disappear.

However, there are aspects that you can improve and work on that will massively help you out in the long term, such as practicing consistently, improving your fitness, working on your topspin, and selecting your shots better.

All these things will help you to reduce your unforced errors in tennis.

Brian Henderson

I am what you might call a true tennis fanatic. When I am not on the tennis court teaching or playing myself, I am probably writing an informative article about tennis. My goal is to get as many people as possible excited and informed about tennis.
September 23, 2022
Published: September 23, 2022