This month the 5 tennis tips will revolve around footwork variations and positioning for the ball.
Tennis footwork is an often overlooked area for beginner players and even some intermediate players. Many focus on the upper body and arm movements but neglect the importance of moving to a ball, being in the correct position to hit the ball and recover efficiently.
Tennis Tip 1 - Start with a Bang
Use on the split-step religiously is the best start for every shot. The trick is the timing of when to do it.
If playing from the baseline you want to be mid-air when the opponent makes contact with the ball so the split-step lands a moment after contact.
If you or the opponent are playing from the net your reaction time is a lot less so you want to make the landing of the spilt step at the same time contact is made.
Tennis Tip 2 - Get to Steppin'
Once you've done the split-step, you know which direction to move. Make the first step with the foot in which direction that is.
So, if its a forehand you need to play, step right with the right foot and continue to the ball (right-handers)
This step with help initially tur the hips and shoulder and assist the take-back of the racquet.
Tennis Tip 3 - Shuffle, Shuffle Shuffle!
My coach used to say "make some noise with those feet!". As you get close to the ball, shuffle and make little adjustment steps to the position before loading to hit.
Chances are if you take one big step for a ball you won't be in the right position. If you make lots of little steps you will more precise in your positioning.
Tennis Tip 4 - Which leg to load?
Here are some footwork positions for different shots. All are assuming you're a right-hander.
Open stance - Right leg load. For wide/defence and neutral balls. Return of serve.
Semi-open stance - Right to left load. Neutral/attack balls
Closed stance - Left leg load. Attack balls.
Closed stance - Right leg load. For Wide, defence neutral and attack balls. Return of service if possible.
Open stance - Left leg load. Wide and defence balls. Return of serve.
Closed stance - Left foot for forehand volley, right foot for the backhand volley.
Open stance - Try not to use unless desperate and can't reach the ball with the closed stance.
Tennis Tip 5 - Recovery
Now the shot has been made, you want to recover back to the middle of the two extreme angles the opponent can hit too. Ideally, push off the outside leg propelling you back and side gallop until you have to split step again.
Next time you play, try to implement some of these tennis tips and I'm sure you be floating like a butterfly all over the court, just like Federer.