January, 2016 |

Archive for January, 2016

The Volley Doctor 2

The Volley Doctor 2

Now it’s the backhand’s turn. Remember the Continental grip.

If you go back and read the forehand volley article you will see how a lack of a shoulder turn can cause many issues. The shoulder turn for the backhand volley is equally as important, but much more natural in the backhand volley. If you have either a one hand or two backhand volley the hitting hand and arm must cross your body to prepare correctly for the shot which naturally turns the shoulders to the correct forty-five degree angle. Grab your racquet and stand as if you are at the net in volley ready position. Without moving your feet prepare the upper body as if you’re about to hit the backhand volley, notice how the shoulders turn all by themselves.

If you are hitting the volley long there is probably a too large a backswing. Unless the oncoming shot is a high floater the tip end of the head of the racquet should not go past your ear. The large backswing will cause a late hit and send the shot long. Make sure there is a cross over step forward and toward the ball, this will get you attacking the shot and help keep the racquet out in front. You must hit the ball in front, not have the ball hit your racquet when back on your heels; the shot will go long.

One handed backhand volley players have a common problem, especially starting out, that two handed do not, that is, a breakdown of form due to improper use of the off hand. The offhand cradles the throat of the racquet to insure the proper technique of keeping the head of the racquet either above the handle or parallel to the handle. The hand stays on the throat until your forward step and then releases. If you let go too soon, or don’t use it at all, the proper height and angle will not be there causing late contact, a weak volley, or both.

Two hand volley players should emulate the form of your forehand volley. The top hand on the grip should reach forward to the shot. Have someone toss you some balls at the net without your racquet, step and reach to catch the ball with your opposite hand. You will see that you do not pull your hand back behind your shoulder to catch, you simply reach- do the same with the volley.

If the volley is going into the net too often remember the butt of the racquet leads the hit. If the head is leading your stroke the face is turned down. Try hitting the stroke with the butt slightly in front with the head catching up at impact, now the face is correct.

Two other key areas for both the forehand and backhand volley are keep a firm wrist and the shots are hit with a slight high to low motion. This will impart backspin and keep the bounce low to the opponent forcing an easier next shot for you.

Good Luck-Have Fun

 

Tennis-The Volley Doctor

Tennis-The Volley Doctor

Here are some quick cures to help improve your forehand volley.

First, as those of you already know if you read this blog weekly, the volley is hit in the Continental grip. If you use the Eastern grip balls above the net can be hit, but balls below the height of the net will end up in the net because the racquet is not open enough to have your shot clear the net. In the Continental it is open enough. If you use the Western grip at the net-STOP! Try to learn the Continental, if that is too drastic of a change then move to the Eastern, once you have that the Continental is only a smidgeon away. Learning the Continental is not a quick cure, but necessary to improve your rating or ranking.

tennis continental grip

If you tend to take a too large a backswing on your forehand volley here are two ways to get the feel of reaching forward. I just got off the court with Emma who had the same problem, not any more. I fed balls to her forehand volley while she held her wrist with her non-hitting hand. With her left hand holding her right wrist (she’s right handed) Emma could not take a backswing and got the feel of forward only on the volley. The other is, stand at the net without a racquet and have someone toss you balls so you can catch them with your hitting hand. What you will see is that the only arm motion you will do is stick the hand up in front of yourself and catch the ball. What you will not do is take your hand behind your shoulder and then move it forward to catch-a waste of time and motion, the same as on the volley. Give these two a try.

tennis volley

If your forehand volley is constantly going in the net you must turn the shoulders more. Do this little exercise at home. Stand with your racquet as if you are at the net facing the opposite side of the court, lift your arm up and forward, notice how the face of the racquet is facing down. Now without moving the arm at all, turn your shoulders forty-five degrees toward your racquet and watch how the face will open up all by itself. The shoulder turn is the key in controlling the face of the racquet.

tennis volley

The opposite leg and foot will make your shoulders turn. Here’s an exercise that can be done at home to demonstrate how the opposite leg and foot will improve the forehand volley. In a perfect world the forehand volley is hit in front with the opposite leg crossing toward the ball and forward. This will cause a natural shoulder turn when making contact with the ball. As we know the ball is not always at the perfect spot, sometimes it is close enough so no step is needed, or it is hit too close to you and a step out is required. In both scenarios the opposite foot must turn in towards the ball. Stand in the volley position and pretend that a step is not needed and simulate a volley. If the opposite foot does not turn in the shoulders will not turn and you’ll see the racquet face aimed down, when you turn the foot you will see the shoulders naturally turn and the face open up. You will notice the same is true when a shot is coming too close but is still a forehand volley. An outward side step with the opposite leg is needed to create space and the foot must turn in. Practice these moves at home to develop muscle memory.

Use these little tricks and your forehand volley will improve. Next cures for the backhand volley.

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Tennis Percentages

Tennis Percentages

Patience is a virtue, and truer words were never spoken when we discuss trying to win a tennis match. Playing the percentages, or smart tennis, will win you a lot of matches!

I have said it before and I’ll say it again, most matches are lost not won. The victor has fewer unforced errors than the loser, not more winners. So, be patient, now let’s discuss when and where to go for shots or just stay in the point and be better off.

There are three areas of the court to hit to when playing a point either from the baseline or at the net, these will never change; they are down the middle, cross court or down the line. The margin of error is greatest when hitting down the middle, you can hit the ball a little too early or late and the shot is still in. The bigger advantage, especially when approaching the net, is the opponent does not have a passing cross court angle or open down the line passing shot. The same holds true when at the baseline. The second area to hit to when discussing margin for error is cross court, for two reasons: if you hit the ball late you still have the whole width of the court-so the shot is in, and secondly the angle of the ball coming off the face of your racquet is naturally aiming cross court most of the time. The margin of error for down the line is the smallest. This is why you should only try an aggressive shot when you are not too far behind the baseline and the oncoming shot is comfortable to hit. When you do attempt the shot make sure the shoulders are turned so the face of the racquet is square (or parallel to the net at contact) and aim a couple of feet inside the sideline to give yourself some room for error. When you see the pros on TV hit a line with some shot you can be sure it was a mistake. Great players aim for areas near the lines but no one aims for the lines directly. Remember, hitting down the middle more often means you’re hitting over the lower part of the net-less chance for an error.

tennis forehand

The times to go for your aggressive winners at the baseline are when you are a foot behind the line or closer and when the ball is in your comfort zone. If the feet are in position, your weight is balanced and the ball is somewhere between your hips and knees-go for it! Other than that play smart percentage tennis and set up the point. It is important to let your opponent have time to make some errors, keep the ball in play and you will see the difference.

tennis volley

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Good Luck-Have Fun!!

Tennis-Slice Backhand

Tennis-Slice Backhand

The backhand is one half of the tennis ground stroke game, it’s very important to have both halves of the backhand stroke. Whether you have a one handed, topspin backhand or a two hand backhand a slice backhand should be in your arsenal of shots. The one handed player seems to grasp that fact faster than the two handed because it becomes apparent more quickly.

tennis backhand

The one handed topspin backhand is most comfortably struck when the contact point is between our hips and knees.  Topspin can be hit when the ball is chest level, but is a bit more awkward. Where it really starts to get difficult is when the ball is shoulder high or below the knees. It is very hard to brush up the backside of the ball in those positions. The two handed player will not have a tough shot when the ball is higher than the comfortable hitting zone due to the second hand driving through the ball, thus it takes that player longer to figure out that a slice is needed.

tennis backhand

Let’s discuss when both players need the slice. The high ball for the one handed has already been pointed out. The low ball for both players, below the knees, was also mentioned. The other two most glaring areas are shots that pull you wide off the court and short low balls that will force you to hit an approach shot and follow that ball to net. The slice backhand allows for greater reach when racing for wide shots requiring less footwork and when held in the correct grip, the Continental, has the face of the racquet facing the opponent’s court. When faced with a short low ball you need to keep the ball down on the approach shot, trying a quick snap up topspin shot will either send the ball long, since a quarter of the court is behind you, or make the ball sit up resulting in an easier passing opportunity for the opponent.

tennis slice

Some quick tips to the slice are, one- Continental Grip, two- brush down the backside of the ball with the face of the racquet slightly open, three- maintain a very firm wrist [ no snap at all ], four- the butt of the handle leads the stroke, and lastly, a complete follow through with the face remaining open.

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Good Luck- Have Fun!!