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 was a good shot.”

But for Tom (and for me) what defines STARTING CORRECTLY?

And if you buy-in to this, you will begin to simplify your game.

The answer is to turn your shoulders, maintain your posture, and balance your body weight on the back foot.

This goes for overhand throwers

And this goes for forehand preparation as shown by Djokovic

12 Comments

  • Terry Davidson

    Reply Reply November 12, 2019

    From my first internet coaching advice, about 2010. SPLIT STEP, UNIT TURN.

  • Noushin

    Reply Reply November 11, 2019

    Many thanks for sharing your invaluable knowledge.

  • Ralph Kwilosz

    Reply Reply November 10, 2019

    Seems to me that the split step and shoulder turn are simultaneous.

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply November 10, 2019

      Ralph – yes you are right – I was simply trying to call attention to the shoulders hands and racquet – but for sure there are variations in all of this
      best
      Jim

      • Hooroy

        Reply Reply November 11, 2019

        Great point re prep, but please excuse me for splitting hairs re the timing of the split step in relation to the timing of the turn. I may be wrong, but I thought your feet coming down from your split step should ideally hit the ground just at the opponent’s point of contact with the ball. Thus, that is the first time you can know which way to turn, move, etc. So, it seems the split step should start a split second or so before you make your turn, not simultaneously.

        • Jim McLennan

          Reply Reply November 12, 2019

          Yes – but I am working more as a generalist – the pros are in the air when the opponent makes contact such that the landing includes a turn – but I struggle now about whether we know and describe too much – Jim

  • Walt

    Reply Reply November 10, 2019

    What happened to the feet and the split-step?

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply November 10, 2019

      Walt – feet and split still are there – this piece was only about the shoulders hands and arms – and the subsequent balance position when “waiting” for the ball
      best
      Jim

  • Donald McDonald

    Reply Reply November 10, 2019

    100% agree on this tip and the streak. Ran into a book on the internet called instinctive tennis. Read only the intro which emphasized trusting your body. I decided I was going to start every shot in a relaxed upright posture, turn my body and hit the ball with no thought other than the target. My hitting partner and I were both wowed. When we started playing points keeping relaxed and trusting was a lot more difficult. Experimented with the several methods and found concentrating on hitting the inside bottom of the ball with either the bottom tip of racquet – topspin, top tip of racquet – slices and volleys, or inside tip of the racquet – flat and kick serves and overheads worked wonders. (Did not actually hit any overheads.

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply November 10, 2019

      Don – it sounds like a good book – instinctive tennis. Read only the intro which emphasized trusting your body – it could be that even one only needs to monitor the body and let the rest of the stuff happen
      best
      Jim

  • Eugenio ovalle

    Reply Reply November 10, 2019

    Jim
    According to my humble opinion
    You are hitting home runs lately
    Eugene

  • Arthur Quinby

    Reply Reply November 10, 2019

    I agree!

    For me the first thing I think about is pointing the lead shoulder at the incoming ball. If I do that everything else follows.

    Thanks

    Q

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