October, 2015 |

Archive for October, 2015

Snap Up-Lock Down

Snap Up-Lock Down

I come from an era when sports were not so specialized. As a kid, I played a variety of sports depending on the season. Tennis was played during the spring and summer, along with Little League Baseball and summer basketball leagues. In the fall was junior football; and then basketball all winter. Heck, I was even on a swim team one summer until I threw up in the pool during practice and promptly quit, I hated it anyway. I’m telling you all this to show that many different sports have the same characteristics that apply in tennis.

The basic premise for a forehand or backhand ground stroke drive is power and spin. Power and spin will be generated by racquet head speed, an upward snap of the wrist through the contact point. Picture a baseball or softball batter, a pro golfer on the tee and a forehand drive; all three are sideways to the ball, have a shoulder rotation and loose wrists at contact generating head speed and a long follow through. The batter will have a straighter snap line if he, or she, is trying to hit it out of the park. The golfer will snap upward causing a spin that will draw the ball and then release forward giving more distance to the drive with a forward roll. We are not trying to hit it out of a building or three hundred yards down a fairway, we have to hit it in the confines of a seventy nine foot court. Our snaps have to be up the backside of the ball, creating that forward spin getting the power with head speed and the control with spin.

tennis forehand

Volleys are hit in a slight high to low forward motion that is when wrists must be locked. If we go back to baseball and golf looking at the finesse areas you will see locked wrists. When batters bunt and golfers putt they are not looking for power but for accuracy. Their wrists are very firm in these situations; the volley requires the same firmness for accuracy.

tennis volley

Slice forehands and backhands are also hit in a downward motion, brushing down on the back of the ball creates the backspin we are looking for. Remember slices are elongated volleys so lock those wrists.

tennis slice

So, in general, looking for power, snap the wrist up the backside of the ball. Looking for finesse, or hitting a shot that requires a downward motion, lock the wrist.

Learn all the strokes from my book “Winning Tennis Strokes”-click the tab up top (Available in download form) Kindle users go to Amazon.com

Go to the home page for links to my 117 lesson app “Complete Tennis Mastery”.

Good Luck-Have Fun!!

 

 

Tennis-End the Point

Tennis-End the Point

In doubles ending the point is easier due to the quickness of points, singles may be a different story. Let’s go over some tips to help you end the point.

If you have a weapon in either the forehand or backhand work the point to take advantage of it. If you read the article I wrote on “Angles” you know that the safest place to hit the ball, based on margin for error, is down the center of the court. This tactic is great for not giving your opponent any angles to hit to, but it leaves you without options too. If your forehand is the big weapon hit it cross court more often because the easiest shot for the opponent is a cross court response, sending right back to your power shot and the possibility of an offensive shot down the line. If that shot is not comfortable to hit you are still in the driver’s seat with another cross court shot. Obviously, the same holds true if the backhand is your weapon.

tennis follow through

Do not play your whole singles match from the baseline; you could be out there all day. When an opportunity arises and you can move into the net, do it. If your argument is that you have a weak volley, I suggest you work on it to improve your game, giving yourself more options in your game, thereby having more fun. So, now that your volley is cured, when you get a short ball hit the approach shot- then attack the net. You really do not want to come in almost to the service line, hit a shot and then back up. You were just on offense and then took yourself right out of it, more importantly, while you are backing up it is harder to move sideways after the next shot because you weight is going back.

tennis volley

There will be two options when you are hit a short ball and they are dependent upon the height of the ball in relation to the height of the net. If the ball is equal to or above the height of the net use a shorter backswing but hit an aggressive ground stroke with a complete follow through to either the open court or to the opponent’s weaker side. Remember to shade the side of the court the approach shot goes to for an easier volley. If the ball is below the height of the net the best approach is a slice shot so the backspin keeps the ball low forcing the opponent to hit up when you are at the net allowing for an easier volley. In either case you need to keep your knees down and stay low until contact.

tennis slice

In either scenario please remember to split step when you see the opponent begin the forward motion towards hitting his or her shot to allow for proper balance and volley footwork.

Click “Winning Tennis Strokes” for my book, or better yet go to my Home Page for links to my 117 lesson app “Complete Tennis Mastery”.

Good Luck-Have Fun!!

 

 

The Lob

The Lob

When I teach I find that too many players do not utilize the lob enough, and down play the importance of the shot, nothing could be further from the truth. The importance of the lob, especially in doubles, is important to winning matches. The five most important shots in doubles are the serve, return, volley, overhead and lob. If you’re solid in those areas you are one heck of a doubles player.

There are three types of lobs, one for defense and two for offense. The defensive lob is a catch and lift shot with little spin and high. The offensive lobs are genuinely lower in height and either have topspin or under spin.

Let’s talk doubles defense. When both opponents are at the net and have you pinned behind the base line a defensive lob is called for. If both are up and you can drive the ball from inside the base line trying to pass, go for it, but if the volley comes back, and is not a weak return, then lob. The general rule of thumb [not etched in stone] is one pass attempt, then lob to back them off the net.

tennis forehand

The defensive lob in singles is important but will not be used as often simply because you have more available court to hit into, or to try and pass with. However, the same holds true here, if you are backed behind the base line with the weight going back and the opponent at net, you must lob. The other time in singles for the defensive lob is when your opponent has pulled you extremely wide off the court, you need the lob to gain you time to get back in position.

Back to doubles, if the opponents are playing one up and one back, an offensive lob over the net player’s head is great shot to cause disruption. The back player has to cover the court for the lob and the net player has to switch sides, probably backing up at the same time. If you and your partner are confident in your volleys move in expecting a weak return.

There are two other areas the lob can be a great asset in doubles, and both concern the return of serve. If the opponents are serving well and your returns are weak, lob over the net person’s head. The opposite might come into play, if you’re returning well and force them to play Australian formation, a cross court lob for the return can often bail you out of a tough situation. The shot is safe because your margin of error is the whole court and the player at the net will have to move from the middle.

The lob is not a bad thing.

Support this free site, visit the home page for links to my 117 tennis lesson app Complete Tennis Mastery.

Good Luck-Have Fun!

 

Eye-Power-Motion

 Eye-Power-Motion

Every sport has a golden rule that should never be broken. I would not hesitate to say that sports involving a ball the golden rule is keep your eye on the ball. Tennis will continue in the same tradition, “Keep your eye on the ball.”

Perfect form will all be for naught if you keep fanning yourself by missing the ball, or hitting a shot off the frame of the racquet. Keeping your eye on the ball will insure a good connection with racquet and ball, therefore, a firm shot.

When should you start watching the ball? The answer is simply as soon as possible. Players should try to watch the ball come off the opponent’s racquet, this will allow for the quickest reaction toward your next shot. Of course, try to watch the ball make contact with the ball during your own shot.

tennis forehand

Motion

Motion can both help and hinder your tennis game. Beginners and intermediates often have trouble with motion.

When waiting to play your next shot, movement is needed to help you react toward the shot. Stay loose, bounce lightly on the balls of your feet, so that your opponent won’t send a shot whizzing by while you’re standing flat footed and cannot react soon enough. Quick movement toward the ball is also necessary so there is more time for stroke preparation at the time of contact. This is the time when lack of motion will be a great asset. When preparing for a stroke, try to remember to move only what is necessary. It stands to reason, the more motions going on when preparing and stroking the ball, the more chances for error.

tennis forehand

Power

There are two kinds of power in tennis, uncontrolled and controlled. Uncontrolled power occurs when the player swings the arm too hard when attempting a shot. The shot may be fast, but the odds are not very high that the ball will land where you want, probably outside the confines of the court. Controlled power is shifting part of your weight into the stroke while not swinging the arm quite as hard. The weight shift will generate the same amount of power and still keep control on the ball.

Power is also created by the head speed of the racquet at the point of contact. Head speed is not created by a fast swing, but by speeding up a firm wrist snap through the contact point.

tennis follow through

Learn all the strokes, strategies and more from my app Complete Tennis Mastery, go to the links on my home page.

Good Luck-Have Fun!!

Tennis Service Return

Tennis Service Return

The return of serve is one shot that you all need to able to adapt with because of the varied serves that come at you in different matches. Let’s go over some tips that will help you do just that.

I know that different speeds can cause different problems. If you are a player with a rating of 3.0 or lower the opponent’s pace on the serve is probably not that great, but this too can cause errors. Remember that due to the lack of power you are probably standing sometimes well inside the baseline so a shorter backswing is required since a quarter of the court is behind you. Another way to avoid hitting the ball long is to make sure your knees are bent at contact and follow through completely over the shoulder.

tennis forehand

As the ability improves so does the opponent’s serve, 3.5 players are most likely returning a foot, or so, inside the baseline, 4.0 and 4.5 players are genuinely returning from the baseline or a step behind it, you want to keep the backswing compact, move forward on a split step right before the opponent makes contact, stay low and follow through. If you have a loop backswing on the forehand learn to take it straight back for the return so you will not have difficulty catching up to faster paced serves. If the serve is very fast try to avoid backing up too far, this only opens up the wide angle that you will not be able to reach. A good response to an extremely fast serve is the chip return. The chip is really an abbreviated slice, very short backswings are needed and a slight high to low swing will let you make contact out in front and the ball will have backspin resulting in a lower bounce of the ball.

tennis backhand

In singles play in the lower levels the returner should keep the ball down the center of the court for the greatest margin of error. If the opponent has an obvious weak ground stroke, such as backhand, go for that half of the court, but again, do not aim for the lines; let the opponent have a chance to make errors. Most matches in the lower levels are lost not won, so stay consistent. In the higher levels more angles and down the line returns should be tried, but if the opponent has a the ability to hit angles off of ground strokes then a return down the middle is appropriate here also, you can negate the offense by playing down the middle and eliminate the server’s angles from your return.

When playing doubles drive the ball deep if the server is not coming in to net or take some pace off and keep the ball short and low if he or she is. The chip return is very effective against a serve and volley player in doubles or singles. Hit some returns down the line in doubles early in the match to keep the net person honest. Even if you lose a couple of points you now have the player concerned that you might try it again. You don’t want your returns put away by a wandering free net player. Lastly, remember the down the line lob over the net players head, always a great return.

Learn all the strokes from my app Complete Tennis Mastery, the links are on my Home Page.

Good Luck-Have Fun!!