August, 2015 |

Archive for August, 2015

Learning at the US Open

Learning at the US Open

It’s the best time of year- US Open time-time to appreciate the amazing talents on the courts, but more importantly, a great time to improve your own game by observing the players, not just watching them.

When watching great players, like at the Open, observe the areas that will assist you best, realizing that many of those areas are intricate in detail and cannot be picked up with your neck going back and forth following the ball if watching live or your eyes going back and forth on television. I will ask you to spend some of your time focusing on just one player only. This will allow you to observe entire points in the eyes of that one player and how intense the points truly are.

tennis forehand

Here are some areas to zero in on when observing players. First and foremost you will notice how important footwork really is to improving your game. The pro’s footwork when moving to a shot is great, but the constant small steps in between shots is the key. The constant movement has them better prepared to react to the next oncoming ball. A very smart college coach, Jack Barnaby of Harvard, once said, “Tennis is forty percent feet, forty percent mind and twenty percent hitting the ball”. I’m not sure if those percentages are exactly true but they seem pretty darn close to me.

tennis backhand

Another area that will improve your game is again in the footwork area, the spilt step. See how a player approaching the net will split step right before contact is made by the opponent. The split will leave the player balanced and able to go to either side to reach for a shot. The other split step to watch is on the return of serve. If you can incorporate this into your game I promise you will break serve more often. Notice how the player will start about a foot back of where he or she wants to return the ball from and will jump step forward landing on the balls of both feet right before service impact. The player is now moving forward taking the serve early with a shortened backswing. In your game this maneuver will allow you to catch up to the serves of those opponents who have overpowered you.

tennis volley

Having a difficult time generating the amount of topspin you want on your ground strokes? Focus in on the player’s upward forward motion and wrist snap during the shot. There are different backswings but they all basically end up at the same point, below the ball, which is why the focus should be the forward motion to contact.

Sailing balls long- zero in on the follow through. Tennis has a lot of opposites in the game and one big one is the shorter the follow through the higher the shot, the longer the follow through the lower the shot.

tennis serve

You know your own game and the same errors that keep creeping into it, take this opportunity to not just watch and enjoy the Open matches but also learn at the same time.

Another great way to learn is to download my 117 lesson app “Complete Tennis Mastery”, got to the home page for links.

Good Luck=Have Fun!

 

Tennis Footwork-Start and Stop

Tennis Footwork-Start and Stop

I have discussed the importance of footwork for better tennis many times, let’s discuss the times to move and when to stop.

Proper footwork moving toward the oncoming shots is essential for balance and power, I’m pretty sure you all know that, but the movement in between your shots is just as important to allow you the quickest response for the next shot. If you hit a shot and remain flat footed that full second to restart yourself may be the difference between reaching- or not reaching the ball. In singles footwork between shots is more natural because after most of your shots a return to the center of the court is needed, so pay attention to yourself after you hit the ball from the center of the court, that’s when you might relax and wait flat footed, keep those feet slightly moving back and forth.

tennis forehand

When you are returning serve there is a time to start and stop. Make sure to set yourself up about a foot behind where you intend to hit your return, when the opponent starts the upward motion to strike the serve split step forward and stop balanced on the balls of your feet which will allow you to return the serve early. Remember to shorten the backswing and finish with a complete follow through.

Too many times a player gets a short ball, moves in and hits a great approach shot only forced to hit a tough low volley. Do you know why? There is a tendency to watch your shot and then move forward to net, which is too late. If you watch your shot you have given up the offensive position by not moving. Your new guideline after hitting an approach shot is to begin moving forward before your shot has bounced on the opposite side of the court, now you will be closer to the net and the oncoming volley will be high enough for an easy put away.

tennis slice

This brings you to the time to stop before hitting that volley- just like on the return of serve you need to watch the opponent. When the opponent begins his forward motion to hit the forehand or backhand passing shot you will need to split step, again landing on the balls of your feet for balance and the fastest reaction time to move to either side for the volley.

tennis volley

Learn all the shots from my book “Winning Tennis Strokes”, click up top. Go to the home page for the links to my 117 lesson app “Complete Tennis Mastery”.

Good Luck-Have Fun!!

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.

tennis backhand

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.

tennis forehand

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.

tennis forehand

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!!

The links to my tennis lesson app is on the home page. Need your support. Thanks

Good Luck- Have Fun!!

Raise Your Tennis Rating

Raise Your Tennis Rating

There are many areas that will help you move up the rating ladder. If you have a NTRP rating here in the states, or a rating in your own country’s tennis association and want to move up here are some tips that will help.

If you read this blog often enough you will remember my constant harping for you to either learn or try to master the Continental grip. The forehand and backhand ground strokes, along with the forehand and two hand backhand swinging volley and topspin lobs are the only shots that do not require the Continental grip. All other shots, if hit correctly, are hit using the Continental, they are: the serve, (flat, kick or slice) volley, overhead, slice forehand and backhand, drop shot, half volley and defensive lob. To move up in level you need to at least hit most of those shots correctly and they all start with the grip.

tennis continental grip

If you play a lot of team or tournament doubles zero in on improving the important doubles shots. A consistent serve placement (down the middle) is needed along with the other four most important shots will win you more matches and raise your computer level. The other doubles shots are the return, volley, overhead and lob. Find a practice partner and work on those shots, playing matches is great but the level remains the same because the same mistakes keep showing up. Practice, and practice some more.

tennis volley

The use of ball machines is a great way to work on form in your strokes which will develop the muscle memory needed when playing matches. A back board when standing in close will help the volley and develop your reflexes and reaction quickness. A hopper full of balls, a tennis court and yourself is the only way to improve on your serve. It does not sound like a lot of fun but it will be when you see the improvement.

tennis overhead

Most of the tennis associations base their ratings and rankings on your match results in either league play or tournaments and enter them into a computer. I suggest trying to play practice matches with higher rated players as much as possible. I know, that is not always that easy, but try as much as possible. The better competition will raise your level of play and mentally help you when you play matches that count on your level.

My book is “Winning Tennis Strokes” is available at the top of the page. Go to the Home Page for links to my 117 lesson app “Complete Tennis Mastery”, all you need right with you at the courts on your phone.

Good Luck-Have Fun!!

Tennis One Hand Backhand

Tennis One Hand Backhand

If you look back on my site you’ll see discussions of the backhand slice and the two handed backhand, it’s now time to give the one, handed topspin backhand some love.

There are some key areas to cover that will improve your backhand if you use this stroke. (This is all based on right handed players, lefties reverse)

tennis grip

The grip is more left than the continental, with the major factor of forming almost a right angle between the arm and shaft of the racquet. (See picture) The “V” in your hand should be at nine o’clock on the grip. ( Use your “V” centered on top of the grip as twelve )

Next, your preparation (back swing) needs a complete shoulder rotation with the butt of the handle facing out. Envision playing on a court in the middle of two others; the butt must be pointed toward the net on the court beside you, not the net on your own court. This does two things: one, maintain that right angle and two, makes sure that you can lead with the butt of the handle. Remember, the butt will always be going out and forward, it will never face your body.

tennis shoulders

You need the backswing to be low, think right hand-right hip, now you can brush up the backside of the ball to generate the topspin. I suggest using a firm wrist to start and then incorporating some wrist snap as you feel more comfortable.

tennis backhand

As always, a complete follow through is needed to keep the ball down and control your shot. The longer the ball stays on the face of the racquet the more spin you can generate. Spin is the controlling factor in your ground strokes. There is an opposite here, the shorter the follow through the higher the shot, the longer the lower the shot, ergo, it stays in the court.

tennis backhand

Remember the Book tab at the top of the page, and the app links on the home page. Follow on Twitter for blog updates and other tennis news. @10sblogbill

Good Luck-Have Fun