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Tuesday, 23 July 2019 00:30

5 Tennis Tips - July 2019

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.

 

Forehand:

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.

 

Backhand:

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.

 

Volley:

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.

Published in Blog

Use the tennis tactics and strategies get help win you next tennis game.

This article will give you a simple tactical game plan to get you over the line in your next match. Keeping your strategy simple when playing matches is key. It’s easy to get disheartened when expectations are too high and you will ultimately end up losing the match.

Strategy 1 - Strengths and Weaknesses
Tennis players approach their matches in different ways. Some just hit and hope. Some over think their game plan, making it too complex, thus becoming negative in their approach when they can’t accomplish their goals. Some work out their opponents weaknesses and use their strengths to exploit them. The last approach is the best and most likely to pay dividends. It is also the first strategy I want you to implement in your next match.

Look for these obvious weaknesses in your opponent:

  • Backhand - Keep it deep to the BH, or slice low and make them bend their knees. An awesome approach is to hit a high looping topspin ball, bouncing deep in the corner. This forces the opponent to hit on the rise from their weaker shot. This will also give you time to either recover from a wide ball or approach the net. Mix it up and use variety.
  • Second serve - Step up on it and hit the ball early to force the opponent on the back foot. This cuts their reaction time and helps you dominate the point or at least puts it on an even playing field.
  • Volley - Most of today's players are baseliners and can’t stand the net. Bring them into the net where they don't feel comfortable. Expect unforced errors, slow feet and weak returns. Once at the net hit the ball for a passing shot, lob, or straight at them.
  • Slow Movement - If your opponent is not getting in position to hit the ball, is slow to recover, or just generally slow around the court this is often because of bad footwork or lack of fitness and conditioning. Do the obvious, take advantage by hitting to the open court. Make them move their feet to get to the ball. Even body shots work a treat because they can’t move out of the way.

Strategy 2 - First Serve
The second strategy is to get the first serve in to play. The returner is mentally on the back foot for the first serve, and you’re under less pressure. Take advantage of the mental pressure the opponent is feeling by being consistent and making them play the ball every time.

You can build this consistency by:

  • Dropping 20% of the power off the first serve or adding a little spin. Keep a firm pace so they will still have to work for it. Don’t lollypop the ball in so they can crush it.
  • Increase your margins by having a half metre buffer between where the ball bounces and the line. Also clear the net by at least half a metre. You don’t have to hit the lines.
  • Take your time between serves. Breathe, bounce the ball a few times to reset and think about where you’re hitting the ball and which type of serve you will use.

 

Strategy 3 - Crosscourt

The third strategy is to hit crosscourt. Don’t even think about hitting down the line. This simple placement strategy will keep you in the point and still allow you to attack. This crosscourt strategy works particularly well on the return of serve because it puts you in the point and neutralises your opponent therefore setting up a level playing field.

Be aware that it can become an easy read for your opponent after a while. If you pull your opponent wide or see them lagging to get back into recovery position then you can hit down the line to the open court to keep them honest.
The crosscourt shot is a high percentage shot because there is more length of court to hit to and the ball travels over the lowest part of the net. Also your body is naturally rotating crosscourt.

Crosscourt hitting is the essence of percentage tennis, which every tennis payer should aim for.
Some tips for hitting crosscourt:

  • Hit the ball in front of the body and around 45 degrees away from the body to ensure the racquet can follow through towards where you want to ball to go. It’s nearly impossible to hit the ball crosscourt with any pace or spin from behind or beside your body.
  • Hit the ball with an open stance or semi-open stance footwork. This allows a good contact point and easy body rotation into the ball.
  • Have your racquet head come around the outside of the ball to create the crosscourt angle.
  • Follow through the ball towards the crosscourt direction.

 

Use this simple game plan to take into your next match. It is easy to execute and will definitely steer you towards a win:

  • Know what your strengths are so you can use them to exploit the opponent’s weaknesses
  • Get your first serves in
  • Hit crosscourt
Published in Blog

Quality Drills for Intermediate Hitting Partners - Part 2

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.

Tennis Drill 1 - Figure 8's

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.

Tennis Drill:

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.

Progression 1 - Rally

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.

Tennis Drill - Figure 8's

Progression 2 - Competition

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.

Progression 3 - Rally/Comp

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

Progression 4 - Groundstroke vs Volley

The same progressions and formats can be played with the baseline/ground stroker vs volleyer. The baseline player will have to work overtime.

Tennis Drill 2 - Forehand Winners

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.

Tennis Drill

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.

Forehand Winner Tennis Drill

Progression - DTL FH

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.

Tennis Drill 3 - Protect, Attack, Defense (Red Light, Orange Light, Green Light)

Every tennis coach has done some version of this drill sometime in their life. Protect/Attack/Defence (PAD) teaches players about:

  • Decision making
  • Reading the opponent
  • Knowing your court position and what shot to play from there
  • Pick your battles
  • Give an insight as to what the opponent is thinking about their positioning

Tennis Drill:

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.

Tips:

  • If you pay an Attack shot, you want to opponent to return with a defencive shot. If you play Attack and they are able to play a neutral ball, the point can quickly change momentum and you’ll be playing a defensive shot.
  • From the defensive position you want to force the opponent to play a neutral ball by hitting deep. Don’t go for an all or nothing hero winner from off the court. PLay a percentage shot to stay in the rally.

PAD Tennis Drill - Protect, Attack, Defence

Progression - Competition

Once you have the hang of it, add some points into the drill.

  • You can win a point by saying Attack before hitting the shot.
  • However, if you say attack and make an unforced error, the opponent get the point.
  • If you win the point on neutral or defence it doesn’t count.
  • First to 11.

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!

CSB

Four Seasons Tennis

Published in Blog

Tennis Drills

In this article we look at some exciting drills for hitting partners who do the same old stuff week in and week out. Give your game some direction, objectives and strategies!

Most intermediate tennis players I coach have a hitting partner they train with at least once a week. This gives them an opportunity to practice the technique or tactics we’ve been working on at that week’s tennis lesson.

Having a hitting partner is the most cost effective way of improving your tennis shots, for you and your partner as well.

Tips for practicing with a partner

  • Get a partner at your standard or preferably slightly stronger than you. This will often bring your game up to their standard. Just as playing someone weaker might throw your game out a little.
  • Book a regular time for practice. Whether it’s weekly or fortnightly, make a commitment and stick to it. Practice drills are as important as match practice.
  • Use different venues and court surfaces. This will test how you adapt your game to changing conditions and will benefit those who play tournaments around town.
  • Have a few different hitting partners of varying styles. Examples include a heavy topspin hitter, hard flat hitter but also someone who you really enjoy hitting with. It keeps the game fun ;)

In this first edition of quality drills for hitting partners we’re going back to the old saying KISS. Keep It Simple Stupid. Some try to get too fancy too soon. If you can’t keep long rallies at simple angles, you need to work on that first. Some of the drills can be performed with a ball machine but I’ve written them out in a partner format.

Drill 1 - Crosscourt

Crosscourt is your bread and butter. To be able to stay in a match for more than 2 shots you need to have a solid crosscourt shot.

The benefits of a crosscourt ball are more length of court to hit to, you hit over the lowest part of the net and with the body naturally turns across the court. More importantly for the intermediate/advanced player is that you don’t have to recover as far as if you played a down the line ball. This will be explained further in our court positioning post coming soon.

The Tennis Drill:

Place a cone or drink bottle in opposite corners of the court about 1 metre in from the baseline and single lines. Simply try and hit the bottle on the other side of the court. You’re looking at rallying 20 balls in a row. The bounce should be in the vicinity on the bottle, or at least deep than the service line. A 20 ball rally is a benchmark you should aim for.

To add a competitive element to the drill play first to hit the others bottle over 5 times.

Progression:

Rally 4 balls crosscourt then the point starts. Then rally 6 balls then play, then 8 etc. Aim for 20 ball rally then play the point. You can score if you want.

Drill 2 - Unforced Errors

Tennis matches are won and lost on unforced errors, not winners as some like to play. Getting the ball in one more time, even as a lob or soft shot is better than hitting an all or nothing last ditch hit.

The Tennis Drill:

  • Play the point out full court
  • Each unforced error is a strike
  • Winners and forced errors don’t count
  • 3 strikes and you do 10 burpees and repeat.
  • This also builds fitness and adds pressure, especially after a few sets of burpees.

Progressions:

1 - Have one player covering doubles court and the other on singles as shown by the red rectangles. Same rules apply with strikes etc.

2 - Add rule if you win on a volley you can minus a point off the strike score.

Drill 3 - Doubles Approach

This one is for the double players out there. Most weekly tennis competitions around these days have a doubles and single element and this is a great drill for teaching when to get to the net and play a strong volley under pressure.

Doubles tactic numero uno, get to the net. I see a lot of social doubles and too many people either hang back at the baseline or in ‘no man’s land’. Generally social payers start in the neutral doubles positioning of one person at the net and one on the baseline. From here any short ball that pulls you into the court or if you hit a strong enough ball to get the other players out of position, or give yourself enough time to get to the net, get to the net. If you have the option of hitting to a baseliner as opposed to a net player you should nearly always play to the baseliner.

The Tennis Drill:

  • Play the point out crosscourt including the doubles alley. RED AREA
  • The ball must be hit back crosscourt if it bounces on your side.
  • If you play a volley it can be placed anywhere in the full doubles court BLUE AREA, meaning it should be put away.
  • Assuming the opposition can return the volley the point is played out full doubles court.
  • Play an approach shot that makes the opponent play a bounced ball because it forces them to play a crosscourt ball back to you.

Progression:

  • If the ball bounces before the service line you must approach no matter what. This adds pressure on whoever hits the ball short because you know the opponent is approaching and they have a hugely increased chance of winning at the net.
  • This drill can also be played down the line, doubles alley included, and full court singles

Within tennis training there are an infinite number of drills and variations. These are just a few of many more to come. I hope you have enjoyed these drills and keep on the lookout for more to come.

If you have any questions please let me know in the comment section.

Published in Blog

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