Monthly Tennis Coaching Pointers - January 2019
Following on with our new 5 Tennis Tips feature to the Four Seasons Tennis Blog, today's new 5 tips are focused on the volley and net game.
In our modern tennis era, the net game has lost its way in singles match play. With new techniques and powerful racquets creating heavy spin and fast-paced shots, you don’t always get the time to get to the net and close the point.
In doubles, the net game is as strong as ever. Tactically you want to close the net and shut down the angles, which is easier for 2 players covering the doubles court.
For players wanting to add another element to their game, or those trying to sharpen their net play, these tips will help you achieve more when closer to the net.
Tennis Tip 1 – Get a Grip!
Use the same grip for both forehand and backhand volleys, that is, the continental grip (2).
If you’re changing between the eastern forehand grip (3) for forehand volleys, and eastern backhand grip (1) for backhand volleys, you don’t have time to set up the correct technique and be able to place the ball as well.
Tennis Tip 2 – Tisk, Tisk, Wrist
Keep your wrist firm and braced when playing a volley. Most other shots have a relaxed wrist for more racquet head speed.
Try not to choke the racquet, but don’t have a wet fish hand either.
Tennis Tip 3 – Two Left Feet?
Step the opposite foot to which side of the body you’re hitting the ball on. Push off the back leg and lean into the shot, stepping the front foot at moment of contact on the ball.
Right-handed players would push off the right foot and land with the left foot when playing a forehand volley.
Tennis Tip 4 – Chicken Wings
Keep the elbows in front of the body when waiting for the ball and split stepping, then open the racquet and punch the ball in front of your body.
Tennis Tip 5 – Close the Net
The closer you are to the net, the better the angle you can play. Don’t wait back on the service line all day. Move forward and put pressure on the opponent. However, if you stand too close to the net for too long, or at the wrong time, you leave yourself open for lobs.
Thank you for reading. If you have any requests please let me know :)
Aim to land your split step a moment after your opponent hits the ball. You want to be at the height of the jump when they contact the ball, then land in the split momentarily afterwards. This timing can be tricky at first but will help you with the momentum to move into position for the shot to come.
Rafael Nadal doing a split step before hitting his trademark forehand.
Tennis Tip 2 – Bend Your Knees on the Serve
When throwing the ball for the serve, start bending your knees when the throwing arm starts rising. You should get to the lowest part of the bend when the ball reaches its peak then drive upwards to start hitting the ball.
Notice Pete Sampras’ smooth knee bend on the serve, one of the greatest ever!
The Sampras and Federer serves are things of beauty!
Once you’ve hit a groundstroke, forehand or backhand, and are recovering back into position, push off with the outside leg and crossover before side-stepping and doing the split step. This is a fast and balanced way to recover.
Watch Nishikori crossover his steps after a winning forehand.
Watch Andy Murray practice movement and footwork. Notice the crossover steps.
As soon as you know you’re hitting a forehand or backhand, turn your torso to the hitting side and watch the ball come from over your shoulder. This unit turn of the upper body will generate power as you turn back into the contact point and will help with balance. Your shoulders shouldn’t face the net all the time.
Serena Williams shoulder turn before massive forehand.
Wawrinka shoulder turn for both forehand and backhand.
Ideally, when you close the net for the volley you want to contact the ball above the net height. This gives you more angles to put the ball away and force the opponent to hit a ball from below the net height.
Pat Rafter hitting a volley above the net height, then Rafter digging out a low volley.
Next month there will be 5 more tips to work on. Keep on training!
Our Monday evening tennis competition run across 7 courts at Marrickville District Hardcourts and has 2 divisions. Division 1 is for advanced players and division 2 is for intermediate. Teams consist of 2 players who play 2 sets of doubles and 1 set of singles to score as many games as possible.
Our winners for Division 1 were Tabone/Butijer.
Division 2 winners were Wilson/Jackson.
The next Monday night competition start 17th September, next week! Register or get more information here.
Especially during the warmer months, this competition maintains a lot of the same players so if you're interested please reserve your place.
Division 1 finals court:
Division 2 finals court, singles match:
Normally bookings are small during winter, but this tournament had great numbers. The kids were split 2 divisions and split again into 2 pools of 5. Each pool played a round robin and the top 2-point scorers when on to play semi-finals. Player 1 played player 2 from the other pool and vice versa.
We play the round robin in fast 4’s format (excluding the let rule), then full sets for semi-finals and finals.
Winners in bold below.
Division 1 semi-finalist matches:
George N. vs. Leo Ca.
Angus B. vs. Raymond T.
Division 1 final
Angus B. df. George N. 6-4
Division 2 semi-finalist matches:
Mandela D. vs. Oscar L.
Leo Co. vs. Amitesh S.
Division 2 final
Mandela D. df. Leo Co. 6-3
Both Angus and Mandela lost their titles last tournament but were able to reclaim them this time in hard fought battles. There was a definite improvement in their mental games under pressure which got them over the line.
A big thank you to all the players who participated and parents for their support.
Bookings open for the next tournament here: http://www.fourseasonstennis.com.au/index.php/juniors/tournaments
Hope to see you there.
Here are the results and photos of the tournament. I'll put more photos on the facebook page.
With torrential rain on Saturday and Monday either side of the tournament, we were lucky for such a wonderful day. All matches went off without a hitch with some great match-ups.
(Waiting for pic)
The next tournament will be 25th March 2018. Make your booking here.
We also run 4 weekly competitions a year. Check them out here.
On Sunday we had our Adults Winter Tournament and it was a blast. As usual there were 4 divisions with 6 players battling it out in each group. The playing conditions were perfect for tennis. The sun was out and not a hint of wind. It was shaping up to be a wonderful day.
After the speech and the rules were set out it was time to play. Best of 8 games for 5 matches each player and the 2 top point scorers play out the final for the trophy… and the glory!
Unfortunately we were missing Tony Strachan for his infamous BBQ so I had to make do. A few BBQ steaks and veggies were had, even a few beers. There's nothing better to slow down the footwork o
It was a class of regulars including David O’D who won the Division 2 round last comp. In the end John M. defeated friend Matt B. 6-3 to clench his first Four Season Tennis trophy. John uses the unconventional double handed forehand and backhand which maximises power although it was a close match. Not bad for a hangover.
Two first-timers were contenders for the trophy in Div. 2. Marc F. from our Social Tennis and Marcelo H. Playing in his first tournament in Australia. Marc took it out with a 6-1 victory. It was nice to see Marcelo using the serve volley tactics but Marc had slightly more power which clenched the victory.
It was regular players all around in Division 3. All play in our tournaments, social tennis and/or do lessons. It was the most evenly scored division of the day. In the end Ash P. defeated Rachel O’C 6-3 for his second FSTS trophy. Might have to be division 2 next time Ash.
After waking up in Brisbane Kate B. flew into Sydney with only one thing on her mind… tennis tournament! Making a late entrance Kate ended up playing a final against the Frenchman Eric A. who eventually defeated her 5-3.
Thank you to all who participated in the tournament and those who came down to cheers friends on. It was a wonderful day and I hope to see everyone next time.
Plus, here are some more pics...
If you have a hitting partner or someone to practice with and want some variety and direction, try the 3 drills following.
Lets get straight into it.
First up if you missed Part 1 check out the Hitting Partner Drills click here.
Lets get straight into it.
This drill is one of my favourites to do but also to watch how players hangle it. Figure 8's teaches recovery, timing, shot selection, fitness, and brutal toughness to just keep going and retrieve one more ball! The drill is very difficult to do well and takes a lot of practice. Your heart rate will shoot up within a couple of minutes so stagger the drill timing. Maybe 4-10 rallies then 30 sec rest.
Using the full singles court Player A can only hit down the line (DTL) and player B can only hit crosscourt (CC). The result is the ball does figure 8’s around the court. Practice hitting CC and DTL for 10-15 minutes each.
Start by rallying the ball and setting goals of how many rotations you can get. Every 4 balls equal 1 rotation. Start slow, aim for 3-4 rotations and build up from there. As your consistency improves you want to be getting 6-10 rotations more often than not.
This will build stamina, fitness and consistency.
Same format of drill however you play the point out. If you’re hitting DTL the ball must bounce in that zone otherwise it’s out. Score mini sets of first to 11 then swap shots CC with DTL.
Give a goal of rotations before the point can be played out. Example: You have to play 3 rotations then play the point out in the figure 8 format. Score mini sets of first to 11 then swap shots CC with DTL
The same progressions and formats can be played with the baseline/ground stroker vs volleyer. The baseline player will have to work overtime.
It’s a dog eat dog world and a simple rule in tennis is play your strengths against your opponents weaknesses. That’s what I want you to think about with this drill.
90% of tennis players have a stronger forehand (FH) than backhand (BH). Most players work this out pretty quickly about their opponent and of course hit most balls there during a match.
This drill is all about that scenario.
Feeding the ball into play you only have 2 simple rules:
1. Full singles court
2. You can only win the point on a FH shot
That means hit it to your opponents BH as much as possible. If they start waiting on the BH side too much play to the FH to keep them honest. This will help open up the court for the next shot anyway.
You want to be looking for the FH. Any balls in the middle of the court or you think you can run around, do it! If want practice getting the feet around balls, playing the off FH, inside out and inside in FH. Become the aggressor and force them to play BHs all day long, but remember they’ll be doing the same to you.
In the diagram, you can see when you play a deep shot to the opponents BH, if their return isn’t deep/wide enough back you can it a FH. Work on your anticipation and have fast feet. The area in blue is where you should be able to hit a FH if you want.
This is the key for BH defence is to hit it the ball early and out in front. If you can’t do that there is no hope of hitting a decent crosscourt ball and you’ll be giving the opponent a FH. Any late BHs are likely to be in the hitting zone shown in red.
When you get around the ball and are able to play a forehand, instead of being able to play it anywhere, it must be played DTL.
This means 2 things.
The first is you have to set yourself up to be able to hit FH they’ll struggle to get to. If the opponent is already standing in the middle of the court when you hit the DTL it’s an easy CC shot for them and you’re immediately on the back foot, playing a BH. You set it up by pulling the opponent wide on that BH, try to get their feet past the singles line, and then pounce on the FH DTL.
Every tennis coach has done some version of this drill sometime in their life. Protect/Attack/Defence (PAD) teaches players about:
PAD is played full court singles, one on one. You need to call a word before you contact a ball describing what kind of shot you’re playing. You can use Protect (Orange), Attack (Green) or DEfence (Red). Some prefer to say colours in this drill. In the diagram below, you can see the general areas r what shot needs to be played.
The RED AREA is generally the defencive zone. Often you pulled out wide or playing balls off the back foot. When playing from these areas give yourself time to get back into position by giving the ball clearance over the net and slow the ball down by using spin. The ORANGE AREA if the neutral zone. You might come up with some strong hots from here but in all likelihood the opponent will be able to retrieve most returns. Stay in the rally from here by hitting deep and making the opponent play at least an Orange or Red ball.
THe GREEN AREA is the attack zone. If you’re pulled into the court you have to do something with this ball. you bodyweight is already moving forwards into the shot so take advantage. Remember the closer you get to the net the more angles you can play.
Progression - Competition
Once you have the hang of it, add some points into the drill.
This make you think before pulling the trigger. Too many players attack at the wrong time or change their technique on the attack shot. This leads to unforced errors. A winner or true attack shot is when you notice to opponent is out of position or on the defence, and you capitalize.
These drills will boost your game if practiced regularly with your hitting partner. Our coaches do these drills and many of the same caliber during private lessons and adaptations for our group classes.
There are many variations for each of the drills above. This is a starting point but you can change rules or goal to suit your needs. Remember you want to be specific with your training and keep progressing. Don't just hit full court for an hour and call it a training session.
Click here if you’re interested in private lessons at Four Seasons Tennis or if want to check out our coaches out beforehand here they are.
Keep the practice up!
Four Seasons Tennis
Four Seasons Tennis Junior Tournament
What a wonderful day of tennis we had. There was a huge improvment from everyone who participated in the competition. Huge lengthy rallies were great to see and everyone really going for their shots. So many matches right down to the wire.
Everyone who attended were members of our junior tennis coaching school. It was great to see the kids putting the things they've learnt in the lessons into practice in a competitive setting. We had 2 divisions in the tournament, both very strong. The division 1 finalists were the same as last time!
Now for the results:
Zac B df. Evan P 6-0
Max VB df. Jonathan S 6-4
Again than you to everyone who participated in the tournament and we hope you can join us next time.
For details to book into the next tournament CLICK HERE
Congratulations to all our participants in the Autumn Adults Tennis Tournament.
With a big day of competition starting at 9am, 24 players battled it out in 4 divisions to make the finals. I huge BBQ was cooked up by Tony to keep the furnaces burning. Through the highs and lows our finalists for each division were:
1. DAVE ALLAN defeated JOHNNY CAMPOS
2. DAVID O'DRISCOLL defeated KAROL TARASIUK
3. MYAT MIN ZAW defeated ASHTON PEREIRA
4. CATHERINE NIEC defeated MARIAN LENTFER
The next tournament will be held on Sunday 29th June. To book check out http://www.fourseasonstennis.com.au/index.php/adults/tournaments