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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Volley Demo – Conking the Ball

Federer reminds us about playing the net His technique appears flawless (as most everything else) As a caveat, there are many ways to hit the ball, and coaches may or may not agree with the following interpretation Takeaways include Turn the the side with the prepared racquet facing or inline with the incoming ball Begin…

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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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ETI 047 | Will Staying Sideways help you hit up on the serve?

The common problem I see at the club, as well as on television, is where the server flexes at the waist at the hit – more or less jackknifing to create a little more ball speed.

And this action creates both forward and downward forces – and is generally associated with netted serves.

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ETI 043 | Point of Contact Area of Contact

Ball control – ours is a game of accuracy, of consistency, but equally it is a game of timing for the opponent will send us shots of varying spin, speed, length and difficulty. Timing describes the relation between the incoming ball and the swinging racquet – and certainly the entire game revolves around the moment…

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ETI 042 | Measure Twice Cut Once

https://dg2e30wx7kvei.cloudfront.net/eti_podcast/ETI_042_Measure_Twice_Cut_Once.mp4 The carpenter measures twice to cut once, to make sure the cut is accurate, for if too much is cut off that mistake cannot be undone. In tennis consider measuring as preparing first to the side for the incoming ball, but then to measure precisely the height of the backswing such that the racquet…

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ETI 041 | Quantum Tennis/Golf

Many interesting parallels have been drawn between the tennis serve and the golf swing. Once the tennis player (or golfer) gets the feel for the mechanical elements of the serve (or golf swing) then rhythm becomes the overriding issue. Does the swing build smoothly and gracefully? Is there economy of effort? Can the server (golfer) swing easily yet hit hard? Are the body parts coordinated so that the force from the legs moves to the hips, and then to the torso, and then to the shoulder, then the arm, then the forearm, then the hand, and finally the fingers?

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Mac the Knife – Wall to the Ball – Part 2

John McEnroe – 78 atp doubles titles, and 77 tap singles titles – could this record be greater than any accumulation of doubles titles only (the Brian Brothers) or singles titles (Federer, Sampras, Nadal) But through it all there was and is a simplicity to McEnroe’s game – highlighted, as usual, with his on court…

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Deconstructing the Volley – Mac the Knife – Part 1

John McEnroe – 78 ATP doubles titles, and 77 ATP singles titles – could this record be greater than any accumulation of doubles titles only (the Brian Brothers) or singles titles (Federer, Sampras, Nadal …) But through it all there was and is a simplicity to McEnroe’s game – highlighted, as usual, with his on…

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ETI 038 | Dead Hands

The 3 R’s of tennis – ready, read (where the ball is going) react!

As to your reaction – what precisely is your first move? What moves first, what initiates your preparation?

Really an important question.

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ETI 035 | The Dead Spot on the Racquet Face

Swing path, type of spin, power, 3d playback (with Zepp) but perhaps the most interesting as well as the most useful is the data that shows where you make contact on the racquet face.

And before going further, one of the most important (IF NOT THE MOST IMPORTANT) skills in the game of tennis is concentration, focus, and closely and continually watching the ball.

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ETI 033 | Throwing vs. the Pendulum

Consider the elements in a strong and fluid overhand throw – and how the actions of the hand and elbow can be used or even copied in the modern forehand as well as certainly the serve.

Once when racquets were heavy and wooden, we could see (and still see now and then) a type of pendulum swing – back and forth with little whip or acceleration. Interestingly McEnroe still uses such a forehand to truly devastating effect.

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ETI 030 | Forward Spin

Squaring up – Hitting the ball true – precise contact on the back of the ball.

We all know about topspin – but have you ever tried to strike the ball with true topspin – where the ball rolls forward – precisely forward?

The following drop hit drill will improve your time spent practicing on court – and help you with your forehand and or your backhand.

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ETI 025 | Drop Shot – playing North to South

Play the ball to the open court. Run your opponent. Hit it where they “ain’t” (sorry).

Too often we focus on moving the ball east and west, meaning from side to side. Another option, in some instances a better option, is to play the ball deep and short, very deep and very short. Think of this as moving the ball north and south.

Drop shots will do the trick. Backspin, finesse, stroking from high to low with an open racquet face. But, and this is most important, always meet this ball on the rise, from inside the baseline.

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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.

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ETI 021 | Deep and Up the Middle

Time and Angle.  Tactics – plain and simple.

If you move the opponent well behind the baseline – you will have more time to respond, and their angle of play becomes smaller.

If that opponent is as deep but in one corner or the other, their angle remains the same but their cross court shot will cross the sideline at a steeper angle.

The famous Jack Kramer was known to play the ball deep and up the middle, whenever he had not gained control of the point with his serve or volley.

The same will work for you.

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Drop Hit One Handed Backhands – a hidden practice gem!!

Start a rally; deliver a ball to the adjacent court when responding to “ball please.” In nearly every instance the swing is a drop hit forehand. Sometimes those forehands are deliberate and practiced (that is good). Other times those forehands are wristy, in poor form, somehow not acknowledged as genuine practice opportunities. Truly – practice…

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ETI 018 | The Heavy Ball

One of the most common phrases in tennis today is ‘hit a heavy ball’. So what is a heavy ball?

The incoming shot “feels heavy” when that shot has a lot of momentum.

Generally heavy shots are produced with a combination of racquet speed as well as body weight “against the ball.”

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ETI 014 | Alignment – Swinging Up and or Down

Many ways to play this game, many ways to grip the racquet, and truly many ways to hit the ball.

Flat, topspin, slice, sidespin, under spin – just to name a few (if not them all).

We know to hit up on the ball for topspin, to swing slightly down on the ball for slice or under spin, and to swing more or less level for a flat hit. And one proviso, the ball will always leave the racquet with some amount of spin, it is impossible to hit the ball perfectly flat. But for our purposes, flat will mean a ball with relatively little spin.

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ETI 013 | Circle of Play

This one is entirely visual.
Draw a full circle with your racquet, visualizing the face of a clock.

At 3 and 9 o’clock, your arm is horizontal, the racquet head is well away from your body.

Down at 5 and 7 o’clock your arm points down, the racquet head falls below your hand, and your reach is not as extended as it was at 9 and 3.

Use this feel to know that when balls are low (5 and 7), you actually want to play them “inside” but when balls are bouncing up (9 and 3) you actually want to play them “up and away.”

The circle of play is a natural way to feel how your arm moves at various heights, and how to position for the low and high shots.

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ETI 010 | The Pete Sampras Snap

At the net put your forearm at net level and parallel to the net strap, with the racquet head at right angles to your forearm.

Now practice quickly turning your hand and wrist such that the racquet head snaps forcefully against the net strap.

Take your time, keep experimenting – and once this feels somewhat natural – toss up a few (rather than tossing down a few) and see how it feels on the serve.

You may be pleasantly surprised!

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ETI 009 | Waiting and Weighting

If you want to hit the ball with less effort and more power, take a page from the baseball batter or the boxer – both wait with their body weight on the back foot before swinging the bat or delivering a punch.

Too often players pay too much attention to grips, swings, and spin without ever mastering their balance. And truly even the pitcher puts their back foot on the pitching rubber before hurling the pitch.

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ETI 007 | The top of the bounce

Watch the professional players who are adept at moving inside the baseline to finish the point. They will invariably make contact when the ball is well above the net, if not the absolute apex of the bounce.

And at this height (which is nearly always above the level of the net) the net is less an obstacle. In fact, in many instances it appears the stroke and follow through are almost level if not slightly down, that is they are driving the ball over the net but down and into the court.

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