My very tenuous claim to fame is that I used to play doubles with an Olympic gold medal sprinter. Anyway, one day, in the middle of a match, we were both at the back of the court and our opponents played a drop shot which was an equal distance between us ... and I got to it before he did. Obviously not because I was quicker but having played a bit more tennis than him I was able to anticipate the the shot earlier. Good anticipation will allow you more time to get to the ball and prepare for the shot. Watch you opponent's swing - is it a short swing or long swing? A short swing will often result in a short shot. What about the angle of the racket? You opponent's stance? If you are out of position is you opponent going to put it in the space. All these things will give you clues and often give you the extra bit of time you need to play a good shot.
We've all done it many times. We play a really good point and then when we get the opportunity to finish the point, what happens? A wild swing and klonk - off the frame and into the bottom of the net. "It's always the easy ones" as my old mate Len used to say. So why does this happen? Well when we see what is perceived to be an easy shot all the basics go out of the window. So what to do. Well close the window for a start. The easy ones aren't easy - you still have to play the shot with the correct footwork, balance, racket control and above all watching the ball. So next time you have an "easy" put-away don't do an impression of Mr Tickles on steroids but be calm and clinical - and remember the basics.
When you play your shots have a think about what happens after you have made contact. Are you completely balanced or do you have to take a couple of steps to regain you balance after the shot? If it's the former then well done. Otherwise read on. Balance is vital to any good tennis shot. So how do we get good balance? Firstly good footwork to get ourselves in the correct position to hit the ball. Hit the ball too close to your body or too late and you are liable to fall backwards. Too far in front or to the side and you are liable to fall forwards. We also need a solid base to hit from. Don't have you feet too close together. Bending you knees will also help. Apply these and see you shots improve!