Jo-Wilfried Tsonga – Contact in Front

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga – from an excellent camera angle One of our best coaches once described simply 4 keys to hitting the ball Early preparation Quick light steps Contact in front Finish on balance And though this is an intentional oversimplification – use your eyes to capture how Tsonga seems to dance to the ball, make…

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Squaring the Face on the Volley

The keys to improve your volley include Simplify the preparation – on the first move the strings must face the ball Use a brief but solid blocking action Finish with the racquet face in an identical alignment – means no wrist actio Certainly there are exceptions that vary with the nature of the incoming ball…

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Placing the Toss

For me, the phrase “place the toss” describes accuracy But more than that, this dialogue is about whether you swing at the toss, or toss the ball into the swing. (This was one of Blackie Jones’on court lessons) Your answer will always be influenced by the height of your toss Use the repetitive videos to…

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Elbows on the Serve

The following is yet another attempt to “keep it simple” Notice the following: The toss appears to PEAK within the contact area – which years ago was the norm The tossing arm begins parallel with the baseline As he turns away his elbow is bent and well “back” As he unwinds the elbow travels up…

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Is there TOO MUCH information?

The short answer is YES The longer answer may lead you yo examine (or reexamine) your point of view. Whether discussing tactics, footwork, ball striking, the mental game, and more – there are myriad online presentations. A new student/friend aptly described, “It is so hard to know where to start” And when she and I…

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One Handed Topspin Backhand

Dominic Thiem plays Stefanos Tsitsipas in the ATP World Finals on Sunday We will enjoy a demonstration of full throated one handed topspin backhands Heavy crosscourt exchanges And the match may revolve around the boldness and precision when either threads the needle up the line Both have deadly forehands  – but the backhand exchanges will…

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First Things First – Preparation

What is your first move when you read the incoming ball? Move your feet? Racquet back? How soon? When in relation to the bounce of the incoming ball? For Tom Stow, the first move may have been the most important aspect of the shot. He said, “If it starts correctly, and finished correctly, probably it…

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Agility – Hsieh Su-wei

Agility – the ability to move quickly and easily Perhaps we overlook this basic training approach – nothing about force, power or even strength Just about posture – turning hips and shoulders to the ball as the leading foot drops just a bit and preparing the racquet when about to hit instead of running with…

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The Badminton Clear (from the archives) to Unscrew the Lightbulb

From the archives (yes I do look younger) – and as usual this is about hitting up instead of forward or down on the serve! Badminton – Many parallels exist between the badminton overhead clear and the up and out snap on the serve. And I have found that experienced badminton players ALWAYS serve extremely…

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Footwork Secrets -and the “Crazy Rich Asians” by Jon M Chu

There is a story here. Some many years ago a talented high school senior filmed “The Secrets of World Class Footwork” (sowcf) He had been a tennis student – and this was Jon M Chu If you have seen Crazy Rich Asians you may know of him, of his vision, his talent – and for…

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Elbows on Court

  Perhaps the most important element in the game is to PREPARE But for sure there can be many ways to turn and get ready My childhood coach, Blackie Jones (pictured at the left) at Acalanes High School in Lafayette California taught me to line up for the ball by pointing the bones in my…

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Tom Stow Introduction

We hosted a USPTA sponsored specialty course at Fremont Hills, Sunday November 4th from 1 to 5pm. Four prominent local tennis professionals shared their experiences with, and teaching methods derived from their lessons with Tom Stow. The following pages can be used as reference material for the specialty course, and hopefully will also provide interesting…

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Bianca Andreescu – “She plays different than other players. That’s why she’s good.”

Bianca the problem solver. Belinda Bencic on Bianca Andreescu: “She won Indian Wells, Toronto, she’s final here. I’m not very surprised about this. She has put together great results. For me it’s not a surprise. I think she’s a very smart player on the court, plays different than other players. That’s why she’s good.”  Her…

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Our Game is Played in a Box

Yes I am a tennis nut – and have played taught and studied the game for a long time I am now believing that the single most misunderstood element of the game has to do with court position and shot selection. Said more clearly, players have more options when moving forward and fewer options when…

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Djokovic – Prepared in Time with the Bounce – the Inner Game

The Inner Game of Tennis by Timothy Gallwey- perhaps the best tennis book… He described multitasking and mindfulness in the 1970’s before either term was popularly used ​​​​​​​Gallweys idea was to focus totally on the ball, and that any thoughts on how to hit the ball would interfere with the shot Minimalism – classically so Tom Stow was…

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Fire the Extensors (when serving) !!

Having lunch with the famous Vic Braden at a USPTA conference in Carmel Valley 1989, someone walked by and asked Vic to give a tip on the serve, to which he (famously) replied, “FIRE THE EXTENSORS BABY” It may be that Vic called many “baby” but the memory has stayed with me. As regards extensors,…

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Federer – Sequential Elements on the Serve

Allow the tossing arm to rotate back (not out in front) to move the weight into a balanced position The most common problem occurs when players shift their weight forward doing the tossing action                             Federer releases the ball at eye level…

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Federer – the back foot – and the Scissor Kick Overhead

For the scissor kick overhead, the player drifts back, pushes off and up strongly from the back foot A tricky maneuver but very helpful for players who lose their balance forward when serving. Similarly, Federer keeps his weight back on the serve, even dropping his back hip and shoulder Then he pushes up, his hip…

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Tennis Jujutsu – it not always “GO BIG OR GO HOME”

The martial art form “Jujutsu” involves manipulating the opponent’s force against themselves. Phrases that arise include flexible, pliable or yielding.  I see so much of this in Federer’s game. Especially his low, short skidding slice. Yet somehow I find a lot of the material on the internet is about bigger shots, more power, more spin, with very…

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The Underspin Backhand – Rosewall to Federer

The one handed under spin backhand can be a weapon Ken Rosewall drove his nearly flat under spin backhand with ruthless precision to the corners of the court. “Muscles” as he was called. Steffi Graf knifed her under spin backhand, keeping the ball low to ultimately open up the court for her dominating forehand. And…

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Steps to a Half Volley like Federer

Photos courtesy Jim Fawcette   ©jfawcette Federer astounds on the half volley He makes the most difficult of shots appear simple And this has nothing to do with so-called NO MAN’S LAND, for certainly the ball can land at your feet no matter where you are positioned. Want some simple keys to improving your half volley?…

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Serving with your Wrist in a Cast

This is perhaps a “thought” piece For certainly some will push the serve, some will snap the wrist (impossible with a cast on) and some will rotate their forearm. At this point – I believe all methods work. This one, for better or worse, is far different. In my studies of the serve, and the…

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The Live Arm

Overhand throwing might be a lost art Whether male or female, adult or junior – some throw much better than others. How come? Permit me a guess… Some whip the ball, and others use a subtle pushing motion And for better or worse those two types have similar serving actions Mike Krukow, former Major League…

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Leg Kick on the Serve – What is yours?

There are many ways to play this game, many ways to hit the ball, and truly many ways to use your legs when serving. The USTA has an 8 stage model of the serve – which finishes with a pronounced back leg kick (featuring Andy Roddick, the previous model was Maria Sharapova) But what of…

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John McEnroe – slo mo – the receivers point of view

Are there takeaways from this delivery that might help you (and I ) ? YES !! Observe his “dual leg drive” up and into the hit – by staying balanced and getting good use from his back foot he maximizes his leg drive Observe his head with reference to something behind him and note how…

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