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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
Friday, 22 March 2019 02:13

5 Tennis Tips - March 2019

Monthly Tennis Coaching Pointers - March 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 serve.

The serve is the most important shot in tennis. It gets the point started, and with a solid, consistent serve, you can dominate your matches. However, with a weak serve, you're prone to be broken on your service games and that puts you on the back foot in matches.

For recreational players, the serve can be confusing and difficult to master. It is one of the most technical movements in all sports and requires patience and repetition.

These 5 tips today are the basics and fundamentals that you build from. Focus on one at a time and practice, practice, practice!

 

Tennis Tip 1 - Get a Grip!

Use the continental grip for a serve. That is grip number 2, with the index knuckle on the top right bevel. This is often uncomfortable and difficult until you become used to the grip. The use of correct technique and pronation with get the most out of the continental grip.

For kids and adults starting out it is ok to use the eastern forehand grip, number 3.

 

Tennis Tip 2 - Ball Toss

The most difficult element to master consistently is putting the ball where it needs to be. Use a straight arm, let go of the ball at about eye height and continue the arm so it's pointing at the contact point. Aim to put the ball at 1 o'clock, that is, slightly in front of you and slightly to the right.

 

Tennis Tip 3 - Bend Your Knees

As you lift your arm for the ball toss, lean your hips forward under the ball and bend your knees. This helps with balance, stability and power.

 

Tennis Tip 4 - Where do you finish?

Move up and forwards into the contact of the ball. You should finish into the court after hitting the serve. If you're finishing sideways or backwards, not over the baseline, your ball toss is incorrect and/or you're hitting the ball in the incorrect place.

 

Tennis Tip 5 - Follow Through and Split

Once you've swung your arms and turned your shoulders through the contact of the ball, they need to continue and finish to the left of your body. Making sure you have a clean follow through and trajectory of the swing will ensure the ball will go where you want it to.

Once the follow through is made, take a further step to push back into the recovery position and split step, ready for the next ball.

 

Remember to drill these aspects of your serve, you want them to become muscle memory so you don't need to think about them in a match. You want to think about where you're going to hit the ball and place your next ball.

Happy hitting everyone!

 

Published in Blog
Monday, 07 January 2019 07:18

5 Tennis Tips - January 2019

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 :)

Published in Blog
Wednesday, 05 December 2018 03:44

5 Tennis Tips - December 2018

Tennis Coaching Hints 

 

A new feature to the Four Seasons Tennis Blog, we’ll be putting up 5 new tennis tips each month to help better your game. They are mostly tailored to recreational players wanting to get the fundamentals of tennis right.

 

Tennis Tip 1 – Do Your Split Steps

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.

https://gfycat.com/WarmheartedHauntingAmoeba

 

 

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!

https://crossdimentional.files.wordpress.com/2018/02/pete-serve.gif

 

The Sampras and Federer serves are things of beauty!

 

 

 

Tennis Tip 3 – Recovery Cross-Step

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.

https://i.gifer.com/MEcn.gif

 

Watch Andy Murray practice movement and footwork. Notice the crossover steps.

https://youtu.be/yeSHYZakyrQ

 

Tennis Tip 4 – Look Over Your Shoulder

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.

https://i.gifer.com/S08r.gif

Wawrinka shoulder turn for both forehand and backhand.

 

 

 

Tennis Tip 5 – Contact Above the Net

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!

Published in Blog
Sunday, 18 September 2016 23:59

Tennis Tip - Forehand Swing Tips

Key tips for hitting a great forehand

As you can see in the picture below, Marcus has a wonderful take back for his forehand. Some key elements for developing a solid are:

  • Early takeback starting with the shoulder turn
  • Wrist angled backwards and down allowing the racquet head to move furthur through the air
  • Loading the right leg so you can drive up into the ball using the legs and body
  • Left arm extended for balance

Marcus hitting forehand at Social Tennis

Published in Blog
Sunday, 06 March 2016 22:13

Tennis Tip 003

 

Every get stuck at the net? Use this simple strategy to win more points.

 

Your mission at the net is to contact the ball above the net height therefore being able to create angles and put the ball away. If your contact point is below the net height, angles become difficult and you have limited options.

This is where a lot of players get it wrong. If contacting below the net height you net to treat it as another approach shot, setting up for a high volley on the next. The best way to do this is play the ball deep DTL hoping to force a defensive lift from the opponent.

So to recap, if volleying below the net play deep DTL, and when you get a high volley contact put the ball away at a good angle, often crosscourt to finish the point.

Julio Volleying with Siva

Published in Blog
Monday, 14 December 2015 03:01

Coaching Tip 002

Coaching Tip 002

 

Today's coaching tip is a good counter-punching strategy but can also be used in any old point, especially if the opponent is constantly playing to your backhand.

Simply put you play a high, deep topspin crosscourt (CC) backhand, then a low slice down the line (DTL). Your aim is to push the opponent right back in the court and force him or her to play above the shoulder height with the most likely return to be a short CC slice, or something mid-court. Having anticipated the short return you move forwards cutting down your opponent's reaction time down and playing your DTL shot. This means she has less reaction time they have to cover a lot of court to reach the ball. Another benefit from forcing her to play the high ball then a low ball below the net height, is it’s the perfect setup for an approach to the net and volley.

 If you're playing an opponent who is aware of these types of tactics you will have to wait for the most opportune moment and the weak return from them. So keep rolling the high loopy backhands CC and be patient. You’ll get your chance.

 

 

 
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
Thursday, 05 February 2015 00:00

5 Tennis Tips for Social Doubles Players

Improve your tennis game with these simple strategic doubles tips.

 

1. Doubles Positioning

Start in the classic position for doubles With player A at the baseline serving or returning, and player B at the net ready to poach and apply pressure. This is the best starting point for doubles play, especially at a recreational level.

Too often both players will start at the back of the court or Player B will just hang around behind the service line the whole point. You ideally want the volleyer to be in front of the service line and the baseliner behind/on the baseline.

 

 

2. Player Communication

Start communicating from even a beginner level. It’s important to have a strategy, even a basic one, but also to build moral. Communication can be anything from a ‘good shot’ to ‘I’m serving down the T, try and poach the return’.

Try and set up plays, or at least tell your partner where the serve is going so there is some structure, otherwise they’re playing as blind as your opponents.

 

One of the simplest communication tactics is to shout ‘mine’ or ‘yours’ during the point. This can be applied for a mid court shot, lob, or any ball that could potentially be hit by either player.

 

3. Get to the Net

 

Over the years I’ve taught a lot of B and C grade players who when they start lessons struggle to commit to the net, usually because they’re scared of net play. If you’re one of those players you need to practice approaching the net. You will win some at the net, and lose some but you have to get there to get better at it.

Start every point in a neutral position, but don’t just stay there all match. The most aggressive position to win the point is both players at the net, the most defensive is both players at the back of the court. Get to the net.

Remember this, the closer you get to the net, the more angles you can play. Doubles is a game of angles and you want to get on top of the net and put the ball away. Playing from the net also means the opponents have more court to cover, plus as you come closer to the net the opponents have less options to hit to and often revert to the lob, which can often be a smash, or try and hit a winner which can easily turn into an unforced error. If you stay back on the baseline every point, you don’t create any pressure and the opponents have more options to hit to.

 

4. Don’t hit to the volleyer

If you have a player at the back of the court, and a player at the net, HIT TO THE PLAYER AT THE BACK OF THE COURT! The volleyer can finish the point easily if they get a swing at the ball. Keep the baseliner back by playing deep balls wide in the doubles so it’s also out of the volleyers reach.

As you pull the baseliner further out of court the volleyer has more court to cover, then when you see the opportunity play the down the line shot. But be patient, you have to create the openings before pulling the trigger. You can also play a down the line winner if you think the volleyer is moving in to the court early or leaving space, but it can be a low percentage shot if played at the wrong time

 

5. Poach, Poach, Poach

On the reverse side, as a volleyer, you need to poach the crosscourt rally and finish the point. This is tricky because it all comes down to timing. Move too early and you might get passed down the line, move to late and you miss to ball and open the court a little. The key is to move once to opponent has committed to their swing trajectory. If they try and change mid shot there is a high risk of an unforced error.

Try doing fakies. Feign a step to poach early and make the opponent hesitate. This is a great tactic for sussing out the opponents timing and nerves. And most important of all is it applies pressure which results in unforced errors.

I hope you’ve enjoyed these little tips for improving you double social play. They’re easy to implement with a little practice. In your net double match just aim for 1 of the tips for a whole set and you’ll see some progress. Keep building on each of the goals and before you know it they will all come naturally.


If you’re keen on playing some social tennis here at Four Seasons Tennis or want some more info check out the Social Tennis Page

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