September, 2014 |

Archive for September, 2014

Stance/Open or Closed

Stance/Open or Closed

Tennis is a sport that has more than one correct way to hit the ball, and that’s a good thing. One area where this especially shows itself is the stance we use in our strokes. There are two stances in tennis Open, the more modern, and closed, the more Traditional. [The first picture is the Open forehand backswing and the second is the Traditional.]

Players should want to become adept at both because there are advantages that both can give you when in certain situations. If you have been playing for some time and cannot adapt to the stance you’re not using, that’s okay, you still have the other.

I’ve been teaching tennis for thirty seven years. In the past the Traditional stance was primarily taught, but the game has evolved with power, speed and more powerful equipment, teaching just the Traditional would short change the student. I personally play in the Traditional stance but have incorporated the Open into my game as well.

In the first picture notice how the Open stance allows for more rotation in the shoulders than in the second picture with the Traditional. More power can be created when uncoiling through the contact zone. [Picture three] I advise the Open stance when pulled wide to the forehand side because the outside leg is already in place to push off of to return to the center of the court.

The Traditional, I believe, offers a more controlled game especially for the intermediate and recreational players. As you can see in the fourth picture there is not a lot of movement at the point of contact. The less body parts moving as you hit the more control and consistency you will have with your shots.

The backhand, either one or two handed will be hit in the closed, or Traditional, stance most of the time. There is a natural rotation of the shoulders on the backhand that causes a turning of the hips and leads to a comfortable closed stance and natural step toward the shot. Again, if pulled wide, especially if you have a two handed backhand, then an open stance might be needed.

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Doubles-Play the Odds

Doubles-Play the Odds

In this lesson I will be talking doubles strategy when playing at the net. The bottom line to a good strategy, odds wise, is to have your positioning following the ball.

Doubles used to be and most times still is, similar to the kid’s game “king of the mountain”. The odds show us that the team taking over the net first [the mountain] has a better chance of winning the point than a team with both players back, or a team with one up and one back.

When you and your partner are both up at net, play as if there is a rope tied between you and follow the ball. If the ball is on the left side of the court [deuce court] slide left. The player playing your ad court should slide left toward the alley and the partner on the deuce court should also slide left toward the middle. The opposite is also true, if the ball moves to your opponent’s right side of the court both of you will slide right. When you move accordingly the opponents options are now limited, the passing shot down the line is gone and the middle is covered. The opponents have basically three alternatives, one is to drive the ball straight at you and hope for an error, try an extremely difficult cross court pass, or lob. You can now see that if you keep the invisible rope tied between you offense is on your side.

Partners must also pay attention to where the opponents are when they are about to strike the ball. Let’s say you are both at net and positioned in the middle of your service squares relative to the service line and net. You are both at net and in an offensive position , if the opponent is about to hit the ball with both feet beyond the baseline anticipate the lob and take a step back, you can still move forward for the volley if the ball is driven because of the distance it has to travel. If the opponent is coming forward to hit the ball inside the baseline anticipate a drive and take a step forward.

Remember, don’t get caught up in watching, expect that every shot is coming to you, be ready!

If you and your partner play one up and one back, the player at the net still follows the same guidelines. Slide left or right following the ball and step up or back depending on the opponent’s depth before contact..

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Power Returned

Power Returned

In today’s tennis game we are seeing more and more power off the ground, here are three tips to help you cope.

You do not need to generate power when power is coming toward you, use the opponent’s power for your own.

The first way is to shorten the backswing on your ground strokes. Many club players try to swing harder, or take too large a backswing when the hard shot is approaching resulting in a wild and errant shot. Keep your swing under control with a short backswing, solid contact slightly in front of the body and a complete follow through. This will use the opponent’s oncoming power to create your own in response.

In most cases if there is a great deal of power coming to you the ball will have to be hit when it is on the rise coming off the court. In the early levels of tennis most players are hitting the ball when it is slightly falling, which is easier to hit, as levels go up-so does the pace-requiring you to hit the ball a bit earlier to compensate for the upward angle the ball hits the face of the racquet at, another reason for the shorter backswing.

A second way to help combat opposing power is to learn to hit the forehand in the open stance. I am a firm believer in learning to hit in both the closed and open stance, but the open stance versus opponent’s power will allow for less footwork, thus a faster response time.

Lastly I’ll discuss the backhand. If you play with a two hand backhand the above tips apply, I personally do not like an open stance on the two hand backhand, but if the power is overwhelming then use it when need be. One hand backhand players must learn a slice and not just rely on a topspin one hand backhand. The one hand topspin can be hit nicely when the contact zone is between the hips and knees, but as already stated oncoming power generally makes you hit when the ball is on the rise and may take the ball above your comfort zone. Developing a slice backhand is a must for all players for a variety of reasons, but for the purpose of this article it is easy to keep the backswing short and compact, early contact in front and to the side of the body with a solid chip return still generating power from the opponent’s shot.

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Goood Luck-Have Fun!!

High Contact Points

High Contact Points

I gave some tips on forehand and backhand contact points, now it’s time for the shots over your head. There is more than just the serve and overhead, the high volley and backhand overhead (two of the more difficult shots) are also in the mix.

In serving the higher contact is made the greater the chance of the serve going in, you need a downward angle. If you are constantly hitting your serves long your contact point is probably too low, the face of the racquet opens up the lower you hit the ball. Height extends the arm and allows the wrist snap to force the face to come over the top of the ball. To find your contact point for a flat serve line yourself at the service line and get on your tiptoes reaching as high as you can with the arm a foot in front of the body and aligned to the hitting shoulder. Kick, or topspin, and slice serves will be struck slightly lower using the spin to control the ball. The kick serve toss is directly over your head to allow you to hit up the back of the ball creating topspin while the slice is still in front but a little more to the right (if right handed) which allows you to come around the side of the ball creating a slice or tailing away action after the ball bounces.

Contact for the over head is pretty well self-explained, contact is directly over your head and with the same height as the flat serve. You will need to coil in the knees to extend up to hit the ball and have an extremely loose wrist to snap over the ball, just like on the flat serve. Remember, both the serve and overhead require you to keep your head up through the entire shot. If your head comes down to early the shoulders will also resulting with a shot buried in the net.

The trick to the backhand overhead is to make sure the body has turned sideways to the net if the ball is not backing you up on the court. When starting the stroke push the butt of the handle upward and keep a loose wrist. Contact is made in front and a little to the side of the body. Keep your head up and extend. When the ball is backing you up the body must be completely turned around so you are facing the fence behind you on your side of the court, this will make the face of your racquet aim towards the opponents side of the court. Not an easy shot, but at least the racquet is aiming the right way.

The high volley looks easy but so many are blown due to two key components. First is too big a backswing. Contact points for all volleys are out in front and at a forty-five degree angle. The second is not stopping before the stroke; when you see the high volley-slow down-stop-step and reach.

Try these tips and a shot up high will become your friend.

Good Luck-Have Fun!!