May, 2014 |

Archive for May, 2014

Footwork

Footwork

When I was first preparing for the USPTA exam back about a million years ago I was in a two day seminar conducted by Jack Barnaby, the tennis coach at Harvard University. He said something that has stuck with me all these years, he said, “tennis is forty percent in the head, forty percent in the feet and twenty percent hitting the ball“. He’s was right then and he’s right now. (Google his name, you will find it interesting) If the mind is not concentrating on the correct form and the feet are not moving fast enough or correctly to be in the right position before contact, what chance does the shot have when you are hitting the ball, slim to none!

There are more feet shuffling than crossing during ground strokes. If the oncoming shot is not pulling you extremely wide to either side, in other words, the ball is in the center two thirds of the court, practice learning to shuffle to the ball, you may need to take a cross over step at first and then shuffle. By using this technique you will keep yourself more upright, compact and balanced. Plus, there should be a natural shoulder rotation needed for a correct stroke, especially if you use the closed stance. As important is the shuffle back to the center of the court in between your shots. This is a slide shuffle facing the net as you return. The problem of crossing the feet is you run the risk of being wrong footed if the ball is returned from where you are returning from.

You want to be moving in between your shots, don’t just stand flat footed, it takes too long to start moving initially when the opponent hits the ball. Be on the balls of your feet and keep flexible by lightly moving back and forth from one foot to the other.

When attempting the overhead move quickly to get under the ball, if you are in the right position and you swing and miss the ball, it should hit you smack on the nose. The ball is struck directly over head-thus the name-overhead. If the ball is in front of you and there is not enough time to get under it, stay behind it and bounce the ball, then hit the overhead.

If right handed step on the left leg for the forehand volley and step on the right leg for the backhand.

The split step is used before the return of serve and right before the volley if approaching the net. Again, there should be some light bouncing when waiting for a serve, as the opponent begins reaching to hit the serve you want to have a slight hop forward landing evenly on the balls of the feet so you can now quickly move either way while moving forward for your return. The split step for the volley is made right before the opponent hits the ball as you are moving in. The split step will stop you from running through the volley and allow you to stretch to either side if needed.

Good Luck-Have Fun!!

Tennis Low Ball

The oncoming low ball in tennis poses many different problems; let’s see if I can help you in some of these areas. Any ball below your knees is considered low.

First, the low ball in the back court, offers one particular problem in foot work. You have all had shots coming deep into the back court with a lot of pace, I have seen many players try to quickly back up trying to counter act on it- wrong – there is not enough time. Treat that shot as a half volley, bend the knees and take a short back swing with a slightly closed face, you can then hit the ball on the short hop ( on the rise ) using the opponent’s oncoming power to generate your own while keeping your shot low. If you use the Eastern or Continental forehand grip the shot is easier, with the Western grip it is a bit more difficult because the face maybe too closed for success. I recommend switching to the Continental for this particular shot.

How many times have you hit that great penetrating forehand deep into the corner of your opponent’s backhand and not followed the shot into net? If you had that would alleviate the problem of the low ball in the forecourt. When you have worked so hard to put yourself in that offensive position, move in!

If you find yourself having to move forward for a weak low return, move those feet quickly to get to the side of the ball. Knee bending is a must and the Continental grip is preferred. The slice forehand or backhand is the shot to hit in this situation to keep the ball low so your opponent must hit up to you since you have followed that approach shot up to net.

For all you Western grip players out there who have not learned the Continental yet, it’s time. When the ball is that low and short the margin of error to quickly snap a top spin shot up and over the net is very small. Many unforced errors will accumulate due to the lack of the Continental grip.

Remember, bend the knees and make sure the butt of the racquet is even to the ball at contact, not just the head of the racquet. Hit the slice on low balls in the front court and treat the shot like a half volley in the back court.

Good Luck-Have Fun!!

Pre Tennis Match

Pre Tennis Match

You’re driving in your car to a match, what should you be thinking about? I am a firm believer in an in car fight song. We all have personal songs that get us pumped up, find one you like and play it a number of times, it will at least get you in a good mood and hopefully excited. My family’s favorite was “Eye of the Tiger”.

If you are in a tournament or league match you will have limited time to warm up, so there are a couple of things to do before stepping on the court. Try to arrive at the courts with plenty of time to prepare. First, STRETCH! I am confident you know how important it is, not only will it prevent injury, but you don’t want to waste valuable time in the five to ten minutes allowed to warm up trying to get loose. Secondly, if hitting before hand is allowed do it. Many times if you are in a team match, and you are the away team, hitting is probably not allowed. When I was coaching teams up north we did not allow the opposing teams to hit, just an added advantage for the home team. So, if pre-match hitting is not available try to do something to break a light sweat. If a track is available try an easy jog or a brisk walk a few times around, if not, there’s always the parking lot. You get the idea; you need to get the body moving and loose.

When on the court warming up with your opponent hit medium paced shots working on control and follow through. You don’t want to impress the opponent in warm up; you want to look for weaknesses in his, or her, game. When controlling your own shots you will have the opportunity to see more of the opponent’s strokes which will help you in choosing a strategy. Don’t forget to take overheads in warm up; they will help loosen the shoulders for the serve. Too many players with lesser ratings are not confident with the shot, so they skip it in warm up, don’t, be sure to hit some. Serve the practice serves to both squares.

Good Luck- Have Fun!!