August, 2014 |

Archive for August, 2014

Keys to a Solid Ground Stroke

Keys to a Solid Ground Stroke

There are many facets to hitting a solid ground stroke, but if you key in on four simple areas your shots will improve.

Movement is number one; tennis is a sport that requires quick feet. The stroke is dependent on the fact that you are in the right spot to hit the ball. Moving the feet side to side in between shots is a must; this will have you ready to react to the ball faster. When approaching your shot try to use quick small steps, except when all out running is needed.

Preparation is number two. Whether you have a straight back or loop back swing, early preparation is the key to a smooth, non-hurried swing. The straight back players should use the guideline that when your opponent’s shot lands on your side of the court the racquet should already be back. Unlike the loop back swing, the straight back is not in continual motion, but in two halves, back early-wait-hit. The loop should be started early enough so that the racquet head is below the height of the ball before the forward swing.

Number three will be balance. If you go back to number one, and have quick small steps, that will lead you to a balanced shot. When hitting, you do not want to be stretched or leaning too far forward, but more erect. This allows for a balanced weight transfer into your shot. Never transfer all the weight, only half, leaving the other half on the back leg, at contact. Remember, bend the knees!

The last will always be your follow through. No shot is ever complete without a complete follow through over the shoulder. Just trust your swing. There is an opposite factor here, (tennis has many of them) which is, the shorter the follow through the higher your shot will go, the longer the follow through the lower it will stay. You need to keep the ball on the strings as long as possible to generate your control factor, topspin.

Good Luck-Have Fun!!


Wimbledon Observation

Wimbledon Observation

It’s Wimbledon time-so let’s learn while we watch!!

Observation plays an awfully important role in the learning process of the game. We all observe things in our everyday lives that are then stored in our memories and used in our own experiences later. What is the difference in observing mental experiences than observing tennis strokes or strategy? Why is it so easy to copy mental experiences and not so easy to copy the tennis motions? The answers lie in the transferring of the mental images into physical actions.

A baby observes an adult eating with a spoon and then imitates. Lack of coordination and muscle training contributes to the baby’s inability to perform the action. However, after a long period of repeated tries it is done correctly and turned into a habit. We have the same problems with the physical actions of tennis. We can observe a perfect stroke and not be able to imitate because of lack of muscle training. This inability to perform immediately is, as all tennis players know, frustrating; but it will come with practice. The frustration should not detract from the valuable learning one can receive through observation.

When watching quality players on television, at your club or in the parks; observe what will help you best. I have heard too many people say to quality players as they come off the court, I really enjoy watching you play, your strokes are beautiful. That person had a great opportunity to gain in the learning process has wasted his or her time watching, not observing.

If you know that you have a particular problem in your stroke, for example, a too high racquet head on your backswing, key in on that part of the player’s swing you are observing. When we watch, we tend to watch the total stroke and game the player is involved in, however, nothing is being learned because there are too many physical actions going on in too short of time. Try to observe how that player handles your particular problem in that stroke. Always start your observation from the player’s ready position and follow from that position to the area of the stroke that is your problem. Many times a problem in a specific area is caused by early mechanics. The observer should key in on the arm, wrist and racquet head of the player, also take note of body rotation.

We can do this in segments of all areas that give us problems. Once you have determined your specific needs do not give up chances to see how better players handle them, don’t watch-observe!

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Good Luck-Have Fun!!!

Six Shots to Better Tennis 2

Six Shots to Better Tennis 2

Last lesson I discussed three shots needed in your game to improve your tennis, here are the second three.

When discussing the serve, the flat and kick (topspin) serves are the ones most paid attention to. The hard flat or a kick serve with pace for the first serve, and the kick with less, pace for the second serve. There is a third serve you need to be able to hit and that is a slice serve. For the right handed player a slice serve is most beneficial when serving to the deuce court. The options are to hit the ball wide so the ball is slicing from right to left away from the opponent, or the other option mainly forgotten is to hit the slice serve down the middle so it will move from right to left into the opponent’s body. The serve will look like a backhand to the opponent but will keep coming closer and jam up the opponent’s swing, leaving a weak return with no angles to hit to. Left hand players hit the beneficial slice to the ad court.

The serve is hit with the Continental grip and the toss is bit more to the side so the racquet face can come around the side of the ball generating a side spin that will cause the slicing action.

Returning serve deep in the court is a key to winning singles tennis matches. With a return that lands near the baseline the server will fell rushed in the response. If the opponent is a serve and volley player do not hit deep-keep your returns low. There are three keys to a deep return: 1- shorter backswing so you can make contact out in front, 2- bent knees to be able to hit up and 3- a complete follow through.

We all need a big weapon in our game. Powerful ground strokes are great but you need to be able to adjust you pace, spin and height of your shots in case you play someone like yourself who feeds off the pace for their own strokes, learn a moon ball. With this shot in your game you can pin the opponent deep in the court with no chance of hitting an offensive shot. This strategy can be used during a point until the opponent hits a short ball for a put away or until you have the opportunity to move in and take the return in the air for an easy volley.

The shot is hit with a low to high swing, using topspin and not much pace. It is a feel shot and will require you to practice it. To begin with aim all the shots about three feet past the service line and then back it up as you get more comfortable with it.

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Good Luck-Have Fun!!

Six Shots to Better Tennis

Six Shots to Better Tennis

To improve anyone’s game these six shots should be learned and all are held in the Continental grip. I’ll cover three now and the other three in the next article.

One is the one hand backhand slice, whether you have a one hand topspin backhand or a two hand backhand the slice is an intricate part of a well rounded game. You will need the slice to reach for wide balls, short low balls and approach shots. In the Modern game opponents tend to stand back and pound topspin ground strokes, the slice is a way to change the rhythm, pace and spin during rallies to help disrupt your opponent’s comfort zone. It can also be disguised for a drop shot.

The slice backhand is hit in a closed stance, brushing down the backside of the ball in a high to low swing with a very firm wrist. Two key components are in the preparation and follow through. The opposite hand cradles the throat of the racquet keeping the head above the handle, you will let go just as you begin the step to make contact with the ball. The follow through is long and extended outward-not over the shoulder- with the face of the racquet remaining open.

For all the reasons stated above the forehand slice is a must to improving your game. The two most important reasons for incorporating the shot into your game are for the low short ball and service returns against powerful servers. The backswing is shortened on the return of serve which will allow you to catch up to the oncoming pace and chip the ball back in play.

The slice forehand is also hit in a closed stance with the racquet head above the handle approximately shoulder high, step and brush down the back of the ball with the wrist very firm. Maintain the shoulder turn until the follow through is complete. Drop shots are easily disguised from the opponent because the preparation for both shots is the same.

The drop shot is a weapon needed to improve your game. Once you can hit the forehand and backhand slice you can then also hit a drop shot, on both sides the preparation is the same. The difference is developing the feel, or touch, needed to make the shot. Try to “cup” the ball taking the pace off the ball with the face of the racquet open, there is basically no follow through. To avoid hitting in the net aim a few above the net and only try the shot when you can hit the ball inside the baseline. The stance and preparation is the same as the above slices, as well as the very firm wrist.

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Good Luck-Have Fun!!

Chip and Charge

Chip and Charge If you want to play shorter points you need to develop a chip and charge tactic in your game. What is chip and charge? It’s a tactic to take advantage of oncoming short ground strokes or weak servers who stay at the baseline after their serve-better yet-both. You will move in on the weak or short ball, hit and charge to net. When used in a point it is also called an approach shot. What do you need in your game to chip and charge? When shots are describe as a chip it means a short high to low swing, brushing down the backside of the ball creating backspin. The shot is an abbreviated, slice when it comes to the length of the backswing. Slices when struck from the baseline area have a normal full backswing; the chip’s back swing will not go past your shoulder. If you read my articles enough you know that slice, or chip, shots-along with volleys are hit using the Continental hand grip when struck correctly. If it is new to you start to develop that grip for these different strokes. Okay, back to the original point. You can take advantage of the short shots and short serves by chipping down on the ball and moving into the net for the volley. In a rally during a point move forward on the short low ball, chip down with a complete outward follow through and the backspin will keep your shot low off the bounce allowing for an easier volley, since the opponent will have to hit up to you. If the short ball in the rally is high, or above the net, you can attack with your normal ground stroke using a shorter backswing because one third of the court is now behind you. The same is true for a weak serve, if you are well inside the baseline chip the return and move in. In both cases try to place the ball to the opponent’s weaker side or keep the ball down the middle to eliminate passing angles. The keys to a solid chip shot are: 1- continental grip, 2- shoulders are turned sideways to the net, 3- backswing does not go past the shoulder, 4- high to low swing- very firm wrist- brushing down the backside of the ball, 5- maintain shoulder turn through the extended follow through, which should go forward toward the net with the face of the racquet slightly open. REMEMBER MY APP “COMPLETE TENNIS MASTERY” IS NOW AVAILABLE-SEARCH YOUR APP STORES OR GO TO THE APP ARTICLE ON THE HOME PAGE. Good Luck-Have Fun!!

Know Your Tennis Strengths

Know Your Tennis Strengths

It sounds obvious that knowing your tennis strengths is a critical part of a successful tennis game, but it goes deeper than that to winning tennis matches.

When you are confident in certain shots that you possess in your game it will help you determine a game plan in your matches. Not only does this apply to your assets, it also will help you hide the shots that are weaker when playing matches. Let’s delve into a few examples.

It all begins in the warm-up. You know what you want to do but need to see the opponent’s strengths and weaknesses before you can zero in on an actual game plan. (If you have already played the opponent you are ahead of the game) Playing in USTA sanctioned events will keep the playing field fairly even due to the NTRP rating system, and the same holds true for team tennis. I know readers from other countries have similar systems.

Let’s say you have a strong forehand but a weak backhand and want to try to hide the backhand as much as possible. There three ways to try to accomplish it: 1- hit cross court-the opponents natural and easier response is to hit back cross court opening up a powerful forehand for you down the line. 2- Hit down the middle so the opponent cannot create angles, which will make it more difficult to get a shot wide to your backhand. With shots coming back to you down the middle you will be able to step around the backhand and hit your forehand. 3- Use your offensive weapon to create opportunities to attack. When moving inside the baseline to hit a forehand drive the ball down the side of the opponents weaker side and move forward towards the net, you will hopefully get a weak return for an easy volley. This will also keep the points shorter and hide that backhand.

The same holds true for all your strengths, if your backhand is stronger just reverse the above; you have a great volley- move in on all short balls or serve and volley. I think you get the picture, do what you do best.

I also said to pick out weaknesses during warm-up, if you see one side is much weaker hit to that side continually until an opening arises for an aggressive play. Maybe you noticed the opponent has a weak volley- hit a lot of short balls to force he, or she up to net and take advantage.

Remember, most matches are lost by making unforced errors or poor shot selection. By using your strengths and the opponent’s weaknesses you will keep within a game plan, cut down on errors because you’re hitting your stronger shots more often and not trying ill-advised shots when the opportunity is not really there.

Good Luck-Have Fun!!