ETI 023 | Borrowing Pace – Tennis Ju-jitsu

Tennis ju-jitsu.  Blocking, borrowing, deflecting the ball, playing with angles and change of pace.

The game is not always about power and winners.  Just as easily the game can become one of rebounding the ball, using the opponent’s force and incoming shot to create our own.

This style, ju-jitsu if you will, comes from shorter strokes, firmer grips at contact, and a willingness to look for angles, dinks, drops and more.

McEnroe was the unquestioned master of this – try it out for yourself.

13 Comments

  • tommy

    Reply Reply April 12, 2013

    Hi Jim,
    I would love to see more on this topic. does it take a firm grip or soft hands?
    is there a way to teach this or just drills to get a better feel? One shot at the tour level that is used much more today than 10 years ago is the drop shot. The other finesse shot that i struggle with is trying to get that short outside edge topsin off the court that seems everyone can hit nowadays.
    thank you for your tips and your dedication to sharing the sport!

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply April 12, 2013

      Tommy a little of both – there are varying degrees on this thing – but touch is about feel and that is never with a death grip
      Jim

  • Mike

    Reply Reply April 12, 2013

    I once read something from you that the racket has the same stability on contact whether you hold it loose or tight. Or something like that. Can you refresh my memory and how does that work with the tighter ju-jitsu grip?

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply April 12, 2013

      Mike – a racquet hung from a rope will produce the same rebound velocity as one in a vise grip – when a ball is shot against the racquet – but the rebound angle may not be precisely the same – but you never need a death grip on court
      Jim

  • ej

    Reply Reply April 12, 2013

    I play a one handed backhand, trying to emulate the usual suspects.
    But to shorten up, make block shot, I often switch to two hands. On the backhand only.
    It seems to give better control, better directivity and be more consistent with depth.

    Your comments ?

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply April 12, 2013

      Yoda – nothing wrong with changing hands, I wonder why more do not try it
      Jim

  • Eli

    Reply Reply April 12, 2013

    Thanks Mr. Jim,

    Thanks as always you’re that generous coach to give free tennis tips.

    More power to you.

    Eli

  • Joel Herskowitz

    Reply Reply April 12, 2013

    Nice little mini-video. Takes the bugaboo away from “no man’s land.” As you say, “To get to the net you have to pass through it.” Thanks, Jim. Joel

  • sudarshan

    Reply Reply April 11, 2013

    The old “chip n charge” has gone out of today’s tennis! It’s just staying back and blasting from all corners. McEnroe was a genius-he could play a dead drop off a full blooded drive. Leander Paes still manages those dinks and angles and in the process also get’s under his opponents’ skins. Unfortunately, we are not likely to see the return of these moves in the singles game.

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply April 12, 2013

      Sudarshan – but certainly mortals like you and I and others can use these shots unless we are playing against Del Potro
      Jim

  • Georgia Beletsos

    Reply Reply April 11, 2013

    Great tip…especially for those of us 50+ who play doubles….no man’s name is a misnomer.

  • John C

    Reply Reply April 11, 2013

    Jim – enjoy your tips. you mentioned that even at the pro level you’ve got players that just don’t/can’t/won’t move into the court. The guy that comes to mind to me is Richard Gasquet – a great ball striker – fantastic BH and really a pretty good all court game, but a guy that literally seems to move backwards most of the time during the course of a point. In fact, I often see him take a step back just before contact. He’s got such a great game and pretty good volleys and if he’d only make it a point to move forward and attack more often he might move into the top 6-8 in the world. The fact that he’s as good as he is playing so far back is a testament to his talent, but boy does he make it hard on himself. He’s got a game that is a lot like Tommy Haas – and even Fed – but he doesn’t move forward like those 2 and it’s a shame because he has such a beautiful game.

    Of course Gasquet has one of the prettiest and best 1 handed BHs in the world but he doesn’t attack off that side as much as he could/should. He’ll take a rip on certain balls – usually topspin BHs, but if he’d move in and also hit hard and/or inside/out slice approaches with that BH he’d be a much bigger threat to the top tier guys on the tour like Fed, Djoker, Murray, Rafa and Delpo – and he’d be beating the lower ranked guys a lot more easily. Your thoughts ….

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply April 11, 2013

      John – Gasquet is firmly within the top ten – and plays a backcourt game pretty well – but it is hard for me to say why or what holds him back from more success – really not sure
      Jim

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