July, 2015 |

Archive for July, 2015

Common Two Hand Backhand Errors

Common Two Hand Backhand Errors

The two handed backhand is now a basic fundamental in tennis these days, the percentage of Juniors and beginner adults being taught the two handed backhand is considerably higher than the one handed, and for good reason. It is easier to control the more aggressive, power shots than the one and it is easier to add power more consistently because the slice backhand is used less often than with the one handed backhand.

There are some common errors that may derail you, let’s go over them. For discussion purposes I will be instructing from a right handed point of view.

tennis grip

One is the grip. While there are different combinations that can work for individuals, the easiest combo is to have both the left and right hand in eastern grips. You never want the left hand in the continental; this will lead to an open racquet face sending your shots up and out. To generate more topspin move the left hand toward the semi-western.

The second is too short of a back swing. When preparing for the shot remember the left hand is the dominating hand and should be controlling the swing. Bring the racquet back with the left, do not push it back with the right, this will lead to a complete back swing and full shoulder rotation; then more power and complete follow through (over the shoulder) will be easier to accomplish.

tennis two hand

Lastly, too many players hit with the wrong hand as the power hand. Most of the power and dominance of the shot is with the left hand and wrist. Picture your topspin forehand; you brush up the ball with the right hand, that’s what is needed with the left hand for the two handed backhand. The left hand brushes up the ball and the left, snapping wrist generates the power. If the right hand dominates you will only push the shot and not be able to follow through completely. All left- all the time!

tennis backhand

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The High Tennis Shot

The High Tennis Shot

Players do not realize that the high shot is one of the tougher balls to play in tennis, both from the baseline and when approaching the net.

You’re in your in a match and things are going well, the opponent’s shots have some pace, the ball is always right in your wheel house and your winning, then something changes. The opponent knows changing things up is a must to have any chance, then oh no, the dreaded moon ball. Don’t blame the opponent, it’s a good move to get you out of rhythm, you have to adapt.

First, calm down and realize that your offensive tactics will have to wait until the opportunity presents itself, patience. Hitting balls that are always up around the shoulders is not easy when positioned behind the baseline. You need to shorten the backswing, and take the ball a bit earlier if you’re trying to hit the ball on the rise. Second, it is hard to generate power when the looping balls are coming with very little pace, do not over hit, patience. Move the opponent around until a shorter ball is returned and then go on the offensive. You may want to consider a moon ball return and attack the net sometimes.

I have seen many players back up to let the ball drop into a comfortable hitting zone. That’s possible, but there are two inherent problems. One, even though you can now hit the ball in a comfortable spot, you are now too far back to do anything with the shot. Second, you are giving up too much court space, leaving the opponent opportunities for angles, drop shots or attacking the net, probably not a good idea.

The other area where high shots give players problems is on the volley. The high ball looks so easy, why are they so easily missed when shots coming at us with pace, but lower, are not? The most obvious reason is that the lower balls are in our sight zone, the high ones are not. You have to make a conscious effort to keep your eye on the ball; the tendency is to look towards the court. The court is not moving, the ball is, watch it and you’ll stop hearing all those clanks off the frame on the high volleys.

The other high volley error most common is a too big of backswing. You see it coming, probably with not much pace, it looks so inviting. Too much backswing can lead to a late hit driving the ball long, remember, if the volley is not struck out in front then the face of the racquet is too open at contact, resulting with the opponent calling “OUT!”

Shorten the swing and watch the ball.

Click the links on the Home Page for my 117 lesson app “Complete Tennis Mastery”

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Tennis Stance and Shoulders

Tennis Stance and Shoulders

The stance you use when hitting the ball determines the concentration needed concerning your shoulder turn. If you hit in the more conservative closed stance, where there is a turn step and hit, the shoulders will naturally turn sideways because the left leg (if right handed) is pointed toward the net.

tennis forehand

On the backhand side the shoulder turns are much more natural because the hand holding the racquet is in front of the body, so when the racquet is taken back you have to turn the shoulders. Whether you have a one or two handed backhand there is a natural shoulder rotation.

Now that the open stance is becoming more and more popular there is a greater risk of not enough rotation. Remember, the open stance is really only meaning from the hips on down, not the entire body. The torso must rotate to the side on your back swing.

We generate power from the backswing to contact with the forward shoulder rotation through the shot to the complete follow through. Our power also comes from the head speed that is generated by the upward wrist snap to create topspin.

The other problem that will stem from not enough shoulder turn is a late racquet head, or hit, causing the shot to be late, or wide. When we turn the shoulders the face of the racquet will stay facing the opponent’s side of the court more easily.

So, in review, if the stances are closed the shoulder turn, while still requiring attention, will turn more naturally. The backhand is definitely natural due to the mechanics of the stroke, in either the closed or open stance. The open stance forehand is the most likely shot to cause a late hit, or weak power, due to the fact the player may think the shoulders are turned because the racquet is back, but in reality the player still might be facing the net. So, be careful!!

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Tennis Approach Shot-Be Aggressive

Tennis Approach Shot-Be Aggressive

If you are a player who likes to come to net or not, when the opportunity presents itself think aggressively and attack the short ball. Baseline players may feel uncomfortable moving forward but you have take advantage of short balls, not to mention, your opponent may feel that the only way to win is to purposely hit short low balls to get you out of rhythm.

Okay, your opponent has hit a weak return and you can move in, if the ball is fairly near the center of the court move to the side of your stronger shot, forehand or backhand, and assuming the ball is net high, or higher, and with a shorter backswing, rip the ball to your opponent’s weaker side, then follow it in shading the side of your approach. Be ready for the volley, or expect the lob if the approach was really good.

Okay, your opponent has hit a short low ball, either because of a weak return or on purpose; be aggressive. Obviously, it is more difficult to hit up the ball when it is so low, the percentages are not in your favor, you need backspin. [If the slice is not yet in your game I urge you to start to learn it. The forehand and backhand slice is a must for a complete tennis game!] When moving in for the ball, change your grip to the Continental [the correct grip for the slice] and prepare to hit down the backside of the ball creating backspin. The spin will cause your shot to bounce lower making the opponent hit up to you for, hopefully, an easy volley. It is also more difficult to lob that type of bouncing ball. Remember slices are hit with very firm wrists, no snap at all. Firm wrists, bent knees, short backswing and hitting down and through will create a firm low approach leaving you at the net on the offense.

In short, take charge when given the opportunity of a short ball!

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