A Tip From Sean Monaghan:
Don’t Be Afraid To Come To The Net!
Whether or not you are an expert at tennis groundstrokes, the volley is another story completely. There are some distinctions that may not be obvious between the volley and groundstrokes that can help improve your game at the net. There are no easy volleys. When you’re at the net you have only seconds to reacts, decide and play the ball. You want to first make a split-step; this allows you to change direction and obtain good balance. Next, you want to make a shoulder turn and keep the racquet to your side. When hitting a forehand or backhand volley, think of clearing off the shelves. Make the racquet travel level and toward your intended target. You don’t want to take a big swing; your hands should be soft and your wrists firm. As for your grip, you want to think of gripping your racquet like a hammer and compare it to hammering a nail.
Because you play the volley in the air and are closer to the net, you have less time to prepare. You have to be aware of the fact that when the ball bounces on the ground it loses 40 – 50% of it’s speed. On a volley, when the ball doesn’t hit the ground, that ball gets to you quickly. Take advantage of that! Your opponent will have less time to react and read your shot. You don’t need to hit the volley as hard as you would a groundstroke to force and error or hit a winner. When you play a volley you don’t need a remarkable shot, just an average one into open space. If you hit a volley into open space, you will win most points!
Don’t be afraid to come to the net! With these tips, you’ll know how to prepare your position, make good shoulder turns and hit the volley into open space. To be comfortable at the net, you need to practice it. Expect some failures at first, but success will come with repetition and practice!
A tip from Michael Esz:
The wide ball: What to do with it???
While watching many matches I notice that there are a lot of different decisions players make in regards to handling a ball that is hit wide to the corner of the court. Although there are a few different perceptions a person may have on this topic, I’ll try to cover a few options.
If a ball is hit to you wide and you are near the doubles alley, your first instinct is “oh no!” You’re out of position, off balance, and will have a hard time swinging the racquet, the point is in jeopardy at this moment.
My suggestion is to do the following.
- Hit the ball back higher, possibly even lob the ball. Hitting the ball higher will allow for you to slow down the pace of play, as well as allowing you ample recovery time to get back into position and prepare for the next shot. Too many times, I see a person hit a normal ground stroke in this situation only to get beat down the line on the next shot because they just didn’t have enough time to get back into position. Lobbing is not used only to hit over a person, it’s also to buy time, recovery time.
- If you can set your feet and gain your balance, use on open stance to help facilitate stroke production. If you cross your feet over one another in the corner, you will not be able to use your hips. Without your hip, you will not be able to generate any racquet speed. So by opening your stance, you will be able to stay balanced, use your legs and hip, thus producing a nice higher topspin shot. Again, you don’t want to hit your normal ground stroke in this situation, you need time to recover, so hit it higher. You also don’t want to give up a short ball as well and let them attack you. A normal stroke with lateral movement toward the alley will land shorter, unless you purposely lift it higher.
- Your last ditch effort when being swung out wide is to just go for it. If there is nothing else you can do, then go ahead and try the ripper down the line. However, you must hit it hard and deep enough to impact your opponent, or they will just roll the ball back cross court and you won’t be able to recover and return their shot. You also want to make sure that the score is in your favor at this point, meaning be up by at least a point or two when going for it. This way you will have a small buffer to fall back on if you are just going to go for it. Again, this is a last ditch effort and should only be used in a “no other option” situation.
So give it a try, and good luck. Let me know how it works for you when you see me!
A Tip From Stephen Schaeffer: The Serve
The serve is one of the most complex tennis strokes with many elements that can be difficult to master. The Stance and Toss are two areas of the serve that normally get forgotten when developing an effective and dependable Serve.
Tip #1 – Stance
Players often start their serve by putting their weight on their front foot and when they toss the ball there is a lot of movement backward then forward causing the ball move all over the place. When beginning your serve, put your weight on your back foot. This will help your toss be more in front of you and allow you to move your body into the serve.
Tip#2 – Toss
Many times the service toss is all over the place: too far in front, too far behind, too low, too far right or left. A way to develop a consistent toss is to think of the toss as lifting a manual garage door, moving your arm from low to high with little curve or twist. Another key element to a consistent toss is the right ball grip. Hold the ball on the tips of your fingers, instead of in the palm of your hand.
A Tip From Vinay Karia: TENNIS GROUNDSTROKES:
In order to hit great strokes you have to realize that you need to lift the ball up and over the net. As a coach, this is by far the most important thing to realize for almost every player I work with.
What do I mean by lifting the ball? It means a movement with the entire arm from low to high. It doesn’t matter if you are hitting a forehand, one-handed backhand or a two-handed backhand; the physics involved are the same. Almost all recreational players swing too horizontal on a rather straight line and not enough low to high. This results in many balls hit land in the net and it is probably the #1 mistake I see made on a tennis court.
The reason most players practice a swing which is too horizontal, is that they see their target through the net. Looking through the net you are actually in-line with your target on a downward sloping line, and people swing just that way. I am certain that people would miss a lot less if you couldn`t look through the net. Sometimes on television or in a drawing you can see these great animations where they show the flight path of the ball. Those lines always have a nice arc on it. In order to get that kind of flight path you need to lift the ball.
So next time you go out on the court, try lifting the ball more and feel free to exaggerate that movement in the beginning.
A Tip From Kyle McGee: The Second Serve
The second serve is one the most underrated shots in tennis and one that is often called upon in key situations. Too many players attempt using the first serve as a weapon without having a reliable backup plan besides “dink” the second serve in to merely begin the point. This immediately puts the server at a disadvantage when serving is supposed to be an advantage. After all, it is called “holding serve.” Developing a strong, consistent second serve can immediately strengthen your game by keeping the advantage on your side of the court. Not only will it put you in a better position to win points on your second serve, you’ll feel less pressure to make your first serve knowing you have a strong second serve to fall back on.
A Tip From Jack McClurkin: Hitting the Overhead Shot
The overhead is an important shot even though it is often overlooked. It is considered one of the easier shots in tennis, however there are still many players who have difficulty hitting the overhead. The overhead is often hit when you are at the net, and your opponent attempts to lob the ball over your head.
The preparation of the shot is extremely vital to hitting a successful overhead. You should use a continental grip when hitting the overhead shot. You want to turn your body immediately, and point at the ball with your non-dominant hand. At the same time, you should be placing your racquet behind your back as if you are scratching your back. The final part of the preparation stage is adjusting your position on the court so that you can successfully hit the overhead. It is important to get your body under the ball as early as possible.
When making contact with the ball, make sure your arm and racquet are extended in the air at their highest point. Your contact point should be slightly out in front of your body as well. Keep your head up, and make sure to freeze your eyes on the contact point throughout the entire shot. Keeping your eyes on the contact point with all of your shots, will help you make clean contact with the tennis ball. Instead of attempting to hit the ball as hard as you can, you will be more successful if you work on the placement of your overhead. It is important to focus on hitting out into the court, and not strictly down into the court. Lastly, your racquet should finish on the side of your opposite hip (right handed-left hip).
A Tip From Denard McLendon:
The Aggressive Baseliner
If you are an aggressive baseliner, your physical characteristics are defined by quickness, muscular strength, and endurance. You are a risk taker and a player that is willing to take chances throughout your matches. An aggressive baseliner works to develop a shot that is used and relied upon as a weapon. This shot is usually a forehand but some players have developed a backhand as a weapon. This shot can be used aggressively in most situations causing forced errors from your opponents. An aggressive baseliner will also need to develop penetrating baseline ground strokes that land deep in the court and that apply pressure on their opponent. Other characteristics of an aggressive baseliner are precise footwork and steady balance to execute shots. Current aggressive baseliners on the professional tour include: Rafa Nadel, David Ferrer, Andy Roddick, Serena Williams, and Maria Sharapova.