On the forehand the left arm goes back with racquet preparation The role (I think) is to enable the body to coil The pros now do the same when serving An identical “first move” positions their tossing arm parallel to the baseline Many naturally do this rotation on the forehand but not the serve For…
Facing the cold hard facts – as in the TRUTH Accurate self assessments of our (meaning your) game can be difficult. It is possible to play poorly and win, it is possible to play well and lose narrowly because of bad luck or a few close calls But as a teacher and player, I…
A racquet hangs from a rope or is balanced on the butt cap
A ball machine shoots a ball at the racquet and the rebound velocity is “x”
Now the racquet is fastened in a vise so it cannot move.
Perhaps on court we all think too much, too often, and as often as not this truly intereferes with just playing the ball.
No judgment, one shot at a time, where the “winning takes care of itself.”
Well in the 1970’s before we ever knew of multitasking or mindfulness – those concepts were developed in a breakthrough book – The Inner Game of Tennis.
Courtesy Joe Dinoffer of On Court Off Court
Balance and rhythm may be the most important, but equally the least trained and understood, key to playing a more natural flowing game of tennis.
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.
Agility = moving quickly and easily. We know when we are gliding, we know when we are moving heavily. Equally, when can see on the adjacent court who moves well and who does not. But often more than strength training or explosive movement, the secret can be in a subtle unweighting where the body leads…
Pete Sampras, “I won 7 Wimbledon titles because I had the best second serve in the game.”
The second serve is about spin that will make the ball curve down as it crosses the net. Yes it may corner the opponent and either swing them wide and out of court, or kick up into their backhand.
Consider the critical 24 inch hitting zone when creating topspin on a forehand or on a serve – to create this spin the racquet must be swung up from beneath the ball (12 inches) but carry upward after impact (another 12 inches) to create the rolling spin that more and more of us want in…
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…
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 is…
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?
Imagine an overhead view, you are at the baseline practicing your open stance forehand, with your hips parallel to the net. Power will come from the twisting of your torso, such that when you turn your shoulders to wind-up you are creating (from this same overhead view) an “X.” Golfers work to create just such…
A few years ago I was encouraged to take a class in improvisational theater. It took me months to find the courage (stage fright and more) but I finally enrolled and then thoroughly enjoyed this class within the Stanford continuing studies program.
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.
80% of the points in professional end with an error, 20% with a winner.
As regards unforced errors, if your opponent never misses and is patient as the day is long, would you consider missing a routine forehand in the 12th shot of a rally a forced or unforced error.
I am now believing that errors are simply errors, and the distinction is unnecessary.
Three factors control your tennis shot – not your feet, not your eyes, not your balance (though all of those do help) but the only three elements are; Angle of the racquet face, Swing Path and Tempo.
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.
Take a few moments with the following report card – a method to either evaluate your own skills, or use this with your coach or regular practice partner.
The idea is to take a deeper look at your “Use” – the broader issues that influence all you do on court, your awareness, the elements that make you a strong player, but equally perhaps the element that is holding you back.
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.
An excellent book, Man”s Search for Meaning, written by Victor Frankl, serves as a useful guidepost in living but equally when playing on court.
When Andy Murray hooked up with Ivan Lendl to capture his two grand slam titles, he was working at the same time with a sports psychologist (the same one who had worked with Lendl years before) to improve his attitude – to improve his emotional responses to the challenges he faced (and still faces) on court.
One of Northern California’s legendary teachers, as well as a dear friend and mentor to me, Fred Earle penned the following 5 keys – that he expected his players to answer with a resounding yes, each and every day at the end of practice or a game.
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.
Balance, holding your finish, placing your weight precisely against the ball.
Yes there are many ways to hit the ball, and many ways to play this game, but with all the variety of styles and technique – our best professionals are balanced more often than perhaps we readily notice.
Is there more to it than simply watching the ball?
Well, the answer is yes. But the answer is not readily apparent.
Scan and zoom describes two different visual orientations, both of which occur on court.
In your own game, are you better at scanning or zooming? Better yet, are you skilled at both?
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