February, 2016 |

Archive for February, 2016

Drop Volley

Drop Volley

All tennis shots have some degree of feel when considering the amount of spin we put on the ball, touch shots like the drop shot and drop volley require much more feel. Let’s go over the important points when attempting a drop volley.

In singles the drop volley is used when a player has taken over the net and the opponent is back at the baseline. You only want to hit the drop volley if you have a reasonably controllable ball coming toward you, the shot may be angled but does not have to be, a straight drop is fine too, just as long as it is short enough to win the point.Doubles offers more opportunities to employ the shot and angles are required most of the time.

tennis volley

Just like the drop shot the drop volley takes the oncoming pace off the ball. When you normally volley there’s a firm wrist and a forward punch of the ball with very little follow through. To hit the drop volley correctly you need to let the ball hit the racquet with no forward punch and at impact open the face of the racquet slightly having the palm of the hand face upward. It’s like trying to catch or cup the ball on the face of the racquet, with absolutely no break in the wrist. The shot should be hit in the Continental grip with the head of the racquet slightly above the handle.

tennis continental grip

 

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Good Luck-Have Fun!!

 

Tennis Match Conditions

Tennis Match Conditions

In a previous article I discussed the important areas of what to do before an important match. Let’s go over them again briefly and then discuss what to do in some key match situations.

One of my personal favorites, but not mandatory, is car fight song. I have one that has always pumped me up. Pick a song that gets you excited and feeling good and then play it over and over while driving to the match. Since you will have limited time to warm up on the court make sure you have stretched sufficiently and if possible either have hit a little or jogged a bit trying to break a slight sweat, so you are loose and moving. When warming up with your opponent-hit controlled shots, look for your opponent’s weaknesses, take overheads and hit practice serves into both squares.

The number one component to playing quality tennis is a positive attitude. Stay focused on the next point, don’t worry about the last point if lost or enjoy winning the last point too long, either way it is only one point, the next one is the most important.

tennis volley

The first set was nip and tuck with long games and long points-and you lost. The bad news is you are down a set; the good news is matches are two out of three and if not for a couple of points here and there you would have won. You do not have to change anything in your game plan. Try to focus in on your form a bit more to cut down unforced errors and zero in on the opponent’s weaknesses you have noticed to force some errors or weak returns you can capitalize on. The first game of the next set is very important. If you lost the first you need to gain some momentum back on your side-if you won the set you need to keep it going.

OH-OH, you lost the first set in a blowout, now it’s time to change your game up. If you are a baseline player come in more when possible and vice-versa, if the opponent is not comfortable at the net hit short to balls to force he or she to come forward and give the opponent different looks by changing pace and spins.

Good news-you won the first set-keep the momentum going, really concentrate on the first game of the next set. Do not change your game plan, whether the first set was close or a blowout, the game plan worked so don’t out think yourself. I have seen too many players win the first set, have a lead in the second and then play conservatively trying not to lose. It’s a lot like the “ prevent defense” in football, when a team has a lead in the fourth quarter and lets the opposing team gain multiple yards to either use up the clock or stop a long score. In football terms it prevents them from winning because the opposing team often makes a comeback. All sports are based on momentum-if you have it don’t do anything to give your opponent some confidence and have the momentum turn against you.

The score is a set each, play every point as if it is match point. While all games are important, the odd games (especially 1 and 7) are the most important, bear down on them. Remember matches are lost primarily on shot selection. If you have an opportunity to go for a shot-do it, if it is not quite there play smart and keep the ball in play.

Good Luck-Have Fun

Improvement on Your Own

 Improvement on Your Own

In looking through the search words and people want to know how to improve without a coach. You can always improve on your own but you will need instruction even if you are not paying an instructor. Reading my blog is a start, I’m a little partial to mine, but there are other internet avenues all around, some useful and some not so much.

The USPTA (United States Professional Tennis Association) has great instruction videos which can only be ordered by a USPTA member. If you know a pro in your area who is a member ask he or she if they might help you out and order some.

tennis forehand

The USTA (United States Tennis Association) also has learning tips and tools for their members, but you must join, everyone not in the USA check out the tennis association in your country.

Consistency in your ground strokes and serve are the two major areas of concern if you are primarily a singles player. Practice with a devotee as big as you are. Work on your preparation and follow through. Remember, the racquet must be ready before the opponent’s shot lands on your side of the court and the follow through must be complete, over the shoulder. Whether you are playing or not stretch every day. You can improve your game even when you are not playing by making yourself more limber. Movement is the key to solid ground strokes to be in the correct position, so to improve your movement stretch and jump rope for faster feet. Purchase a hopper and find a lot of old balls, then hit as many hoppers of serves as your schedule allows each week. The serve is the most important stroke in the game and the only one you have complete control over. Power and spin are dependent on a knee bending coil to extend up for contact, so a building up of the thighs is a good idea. Check out some different exercises that will help you in that area.

If you primarily play doubles concentrate on the five key shots needed to play better doubles, they are: the serve, return of serve, volley, overhead and lob. Again, try to find a practice partner to work with and zero in on those areas.

If you practice often enough, even if the strokes are not text book, you will improve. If there is an area of your game that is constantly holding you back I strongly suggest you bite the bullet and take a lesson on that area. I also play golf and just ruined most of my tee shots- far and right- I took one lesson only on that and lowered my score a lot- and kept my sanity.

Good Luck-Have Fun!!

Common Tennis Stroke Errors

Common Tennis Stroke Errors

There are common errors that are more popular in tennis ground strokes, let’s look at the most common ones and see if they apply to you.

If your ground strokes are going long too often, check and see if one these common problems is yours. Make sure your wrist snap is brushing up the backside of the ball and not snapping flatly, the wrist action is up not straight. Secondly, a player striking the ball too close will send the shot too far. Ideally you want the arm extended downward when contact is made, maintaining a perpendicular racquet face. When the player is too close the elbow will bend too much causing the face of the racquet to open and send the shot deep. If you are in the middle of a swing and you say “oh-oh”, knowing you’re too close, close the hand slightly to straighten the face and just keep the ball in play. The third and most common is the lack of a complete follow through. You must finish over the shoulder to insure a lower shot. It’s in opposites, the shorter the swing the higher the shot, the longer the swing the lower the shot.

tennis follow through

If you’re errors are in the net, see if one of these common factors apply. First make sure your swing is low to high and not straight across the ball. Remember, the baseline is thirty nine feet from the net, you have to hit up the ball or GRAVITY takes over and the ball will not clear the net. Secondly, to hit up you must stay down; the knees have to be slightly bent at contact to hit up. If you stand up too quickly the racquet comes up with you, resulting with contact being made on the bottom half of the face of the racquet, sending the shot into the net.

tennis forehand

Lack of preparation, or backswing, will cause many problems. Simply, if you have a straight back backswing make sure the racquet is back by the time the opponent’s shot lands on your side of the court. The loop backswing player should move the racquet fast enough so the head is around the hip when the ball lands.

tennis serve

Serving too long? The point of contact is too low. You need to extend fully to create the downward angle necessary to hit the serve in the square. The toss should be high, keep your head up through contact, and reach.

Good Luck-Have Fun!!

 

 

Good Doubles Partner 2

Good Doubles Partner 2

In the last lesson I discussed the ways the partner of the server can be instrumental in helping hold serve. Let’s talk about some other ways partners can be helpful to each other.

First and foremost is to be constantly supportive when shots are missed by your partner. Only positive comments should be made, remember you are going to miss shots also and nobody is trying to lose a point.

tennis forehand

Next, try to cover your own overheads. Constantly saying yours to your partner causes your team to have to switch sides, taking the team out of position leaving gaps in the formation. Obviously there will be times when a switch is better than losing the point immediately, but try to keep them to a minimum.

As covered in the last article, communication between partners is essential. When your team is receiving let each other know where the return is going. If you are playing a serve and volley player partners can really help each other out. The return player wants to keep the return low and short, near the service line, to force the server to have to bend low and volley up allowing the partner to move in and cut that volley off. If you are the partner of the returner, be ready when you see that good low return, start to move in and toward the center strap right before the server hits that first volley.

tennis volley

When you both are up at net move from side to side in tandem, when the ball is on the ad side of the net slide right as a team; the partner on the deuce side moves toward the alley while the partner on the ad side moves toward the center service line, and vice-versa, if the ball is on the opponent’s deuce side –slide left. As it’s said, move as if you had a rope tied between yourselves.

Lastly, we all have had points of which both partners are scrambling to stay in the point; the partner in the rear now becomes the quarterback. That’s the player who can see where the other partner is, the partner in the front has no idea where the rear partner is on the court. So, if you’re in one of those points and in the back you have to constantly tell your partner up front to switch or stay; only you can see the whole court.

Good Luck-Have Fun!!

Good Doubles Partner

Good Doubles Partner

There are ways to improve your doubles play as a team, you and your partner should always be on the same page. In this article I will discuss the server’s partner while playing the net. Communication between partners is a must. In between points talk to each other about placement of serve and some basic strategy for the next point. When I was coaching USTA teams up north I was a big proponent of my teams using hand signals, not only did It not make for a long match caused by conversations between points but it would distract the opponents by having them constantly guessing what  we were going to do, resulting in some unforced errors. The partner of the server at the net does the signals. Keep the signals simple, use them primarily for direction of the serve and whether or not the net player is poaching on the return or not. If you are in the Australian formation a signal is needed to tell the server if you are moving left or right at net after the serve.

tennis serve

There is one statement made by players that drives me crazy, which is “ I LOST MY SERVE “. Unless the player double faulted four times in a row a loss of serve is normally a team result. The partner of the server must play a significant role at the net, not just stand up there. Early in the match you should poach on some returns so the return player has to be concerned about you, even if some points are lost the overall effect will be positive, you may win some easy points and you will definitely receive some free points by missed returns. When you do poach move in at an angle to catch the ball at the highest point possible toward the center strap. Remember, don’t swing, punch the ball and try not to go back at the returner because you have left your side of the court open. Volley either for the sharp angle, down the middle or at the returner’s partner’s feet at the service line.

tennis volley

Players can also help their serving partners by faking a poach, once you have actually tried to cut some returns the opponent will be keeping an eye out, by faking a step right before the return you will cause some unforced errors. I am not saying you should use too much movement to be construed as gamesmanship or illegal but just enough to keep the opponent thinking.

So, be a good partner and help out when at the net!

Next lesson-Good Doubles Partner 2

Learn from my book “Winning Tennis Strokes” click the tab at the top of the page, better yet, for just $4.99 go to the Home Page for links to my 117 lesson app, ”Complete Tennis Mastery”.

Good Luck-Have Fun!!