Friday, February 27th, 2015 at
Play at the Service Line
In past lessons I’ve discussed the three basic areas of the court you should find yourself in during play; in this one let’s zero in when you are at the service line.
Play should be from the baseline, service line or at the net. The service line tends to be the most difficult because the ball can come as a volley, half volley, low bouncer requiring a moderate swing or a slow high bouncer that can be easily hit for a winner-oops, let’s not forget the overhead. At the baseline you will hit ground strokes and at the net only a volley or overhead.
When playing singles you will only find yourself at the service line when you are approaching the net, either by design or your opponent has hit a short ball that brings you in. In both cases it’s all the same. There will be three scenarios, first- you have hit a strong shot that enables you to come in- make sure to split step and stop when the opponent begins the forward part of the swing towards contact. You will now be stable and balanced so you can move to either side if the oncoming shot is wide. Second, the opponent has hit a short low ball and you are forced to come in. If the ball is below the height of the net make sure to approach it from the side so there is enough shoulder turn, maintain bent knees and if a forehand or back hand slice is in your arsenal use it, if not, try to learn them. Third, you have to come forward for a slow high short ball. If you can comfortably take the ball in the air hit either a conventional volley or swinging volley, if you cannot get there in time or you’re more comfortable hitting off the bounce make sure to not run through the shot because your momentum will carry the ball long. A shorter backswing is needed because a quarter of the court is now behind you, but a full follow through is always a must.
When playing doubles, there are many different circumstances during play that will have you at the service line. The only time you will actually begin a point at the service line is when your partner is receiving serve. If the opposing server is staying back after the serve you will want to move forward to net as soon as your partner’s return passes the opposing net player and goes into the back court. This will now put you in an equal position as the serving team. As previously written you have to hit a variety of shots from the service line in doubles, so start working on the ones mentioned above.
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Monday, February 23rd, 2015 at
Would you like to move from a 3.0 to a 3.5, or a 3.5 to a 4.0? I have your solution. Learn and become comfortable with the Continental grip. Players rated 4.5 or higher are already using the Continental for a variety of their shots. Players that are rated 4.0 are probably there too, it is possible to attain that rating without it, pretty rare though. Most 3.0 and lower players are not at the comfortable point of trying it and 3.5’s may have dabbled with it.
What do a forehand and backhand slice, forehand and backhand volley, serve, overhead and drop shot have in common? They are all hit using the Continental grip. Forehands can be hit in the Eastern, Western or Continental grip. The one handed topspin backhand and two-handed backhand are not hit in the Continental grip, but, as you can see, every other shot mentioned should have the Continental.
The grip is attained by moving the “V” formed in your hand between the thumb and index finger to 11:00 o’clock, or left from the center of the top of the racquet. When the “V” is in the center, you are at 12:00 o’clock and in the Eastern grip. [Please note the “V” in the picture at 11:00/ Left handed?-1:00 o’clock or right from center]
To begin to get the feel of the Continental take some balls and just try to hit some forehand slices by dropping the ball out your hand and brushing down the back side of the ball. The Continental naturally opens the face of the racquet. Remember not to leave the face wide open, let the grip do that for you.
The volley is an abbreviated slice and has backspin. After getting some feel move on to the forehand volley, and so on.
Mastering the Continental will open up a variety of new shots and create angles you never knew existed. Your level will jump and you will have much more fun playing the game with your new expertise. Click up top to purchase my book, go to the Home Page to access the links for my app.
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Thursday, February 19th, 2015 at
Finish Your Swing
The swing can be broken down into three basic parts; the backswing, the hit and follow through. While all three parts are important, the follow through is by far the part of the swing that affects the shot the most. We all want to add consistency to our shots. Maintaining the same swing tempo and form will develop muscle memory that will promote consistency. A complete follow through will guarantee that the ball will stay on the racquet face longer generating more spin. Spin is the controlling agent that keeps our shots in the court. Producing more spin translates into control, thus, consistency.
When hitting from the baseline many players from beginners to intermediates believe that to ensure for the ball to stay in the court they should shorten their swings. The reality is that the exact opposite is true. A basic fact is the shorter the follow through the higher the shot, the longer the follow through the lower the shot, keeping it in the court.
With a low to high swing you are imparting topspin on the ball. Topspin, or forward spin, will make the shot dip down. It’s the dipping action that helps keep the shots in. Completely following through will keep the ball on the face for the longest possible time. Finish with the racquet over your shoulder and you will naturally create topspin.
There is the same importance of a complete follow through when hitting a slice, or backspin. Backspin is created when the shot is hit with a high to low swing when striking the ball. After brushing down the backside of the ball the follow through will not end up over your shoulder but will extend out and slightly upward with the racquet face open.
Remember topspin is created brushing upward on the ball and backspin downward. A complete follow through will give the shots more spin, thus control and consistency.
When watching the pros on television pay close attention to the follow through. You’ll see what I mean.
Go to my Home Page to find the links for my 117 lesson App-Complete Tennis Mastery.
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Monday, February 9th, 2015 at
My son brought nineteen of his club’s ladies team down to the resort I work at in Florida on a team tennis package we offer. While we worked on stroke technique we also worked on doubles positioning. All of the players were intermediate or above, but some had correct grips and some not. So, the question is, which is more important- technique or positioning? In a perfect world everyone would have correct technique and positioning, but it’s not, so let’s quickly cover technique and move onto positions.
If you read me enough you know I am a stickler about learning the Continental grip. The shots used most in doubles are hit much more effective if you have the correct grip. Those shots are the serve, volley, half volley and overhead. The doubles shots of which the Continental could be used but not needed are the return of serve and lob. See picture!
If you are a player that finds the Continental uncomfortable that’s fine, however, correct positioning becomes very important. Remember in doubles there are three stations you must play from, the baseline, service line and at the net. Try to never find yourself positioned in no man’s land which is between the baseline and the service line. Too many oncoming shots will land at your feet causing an error or weak return to the opponent. If the opponent’s serve is not that strong and you are forced to hit the return in no man’s land, that’s okay but move to one of the stations afterward. When you are at the net you need to shade the side of the court when the ball is in the opponent’s side, this will allow you to cover the center of the court and most of your own half. Partners at the net move in tandem, when the ball is right- the two of you move right- if left- move left. You have now formed a wall against passing shots; the only one open is a sharp cross court angle. If they hit it say nice shot and play on. Again, when at the net pay attention to where the opponent is going to make contact with the ball, if the player is backing up and outside the court confines back up a step and expect a lob, if moving inside the court lines- move in and expect a drive. So, if the grip may not be exactly correct for some of your shots the odds improve for success when you are in the correct spot.
My son and his ladies team members are comong to Palm Island Resort in about four weeks, March 2015. If youpart of a team e-email me for team discounts with me at the resort. Visit us at www.palmisland.com
Learn all the strokes from my book “Winning Tennis Strokes”, click the tab up top, or buy my 117 lesson app and have it all right on your phone at the courts. Click the your app store link on my Home Page.
Good Luck-Have Fun!!
Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015 at
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.
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Good Luck-Have Fun!!