Grip to Use:
The most important grip to know is the CONTINENTAL GRIP. It is used for the serve. You will never become a good server without using it. You use it for the volley. You do not have time to change grips at the net . The ball comes back too fast!! You use this grip for the overhead . Finally this is the best grip for the slice backhand. ONE GRIP TAKES CARE OF ALL THESE SITUATIONS !!! IT IS EASY TO LEARN> JUST GRAB YOUR RACQUET AS IF YOU ARE GOING TO HAMMER A NAIL WITH IT.
Return Of Serve:
Unlike a normal ground stroke, the return of serve DOES NOT REQUIRE A BIG BACK SWING. Aim for about half the normal back swing & meet the ball out in front of you. The follow through may be a bit shorter as well, but be sure you do follow through. This will be especially important in returning hard first serves!!!
Check the position of your front foot as you step out to make the shot. You should be stepping out so that the front foot is pointed at the one o’clock position. This will make sure y0u meet the ball early out in front of your body & will allow you to lean forward comfortably into the shot. If you are stepping out at 3 o’clock instead you will meet the ball late & your movements will feel cramped
Perfect Your Toss
At any level a poor serve can be traced to a faulty toss. On a clock the toss should be at approximately 1 o’clock. Do not palm the ball. Hold the ball on your finger tips. Move you arm from the shoulder only. DO NOT FLIP YOUR WRIST. Release the ball about head height. If the ball has any spin you are not releasing it properly. Practice until your toss is perfect every time. It is best you practise away from the court.
Doubles Skills to Develop
- Be able to hit a moonball with consistency so that it cannot be attacked
- Be able to attack a short moonball and hit a first shot winner
- Be able to hit an effective defensive lob off a drive ball
- Be able to move your attacking opponents off the net with either precision or power
- Be able to hit/direct overheads with angle or down the middle
- Be able to move your opponent wide/off the court with your first serve forcing them to hit a lob
- Be able to hit a kick serve to a player’s backhand
- Be able to hit a drop shot and a drop volley
- Be able to return a defensive lob once it has gone over your head and counter/defend your opponent’s next shot
THE SEVEN DEADLIEST TENNIS MISTAKES
- Mistake 1: Impress Instead of Spar
=============================This is something I don’t believe I’ve ever discussed in any of our digital content before and yet it was hands down one of my biggest frustrations when I worked a “normal” tennis coaching job…
Day after day I would set up drills for my students to pinpoint an area of their game that needed improvement. If they were hitting feeds from me, or with a ball machine, or rallying with me they were totally content, but the instant I asked them to hit cooperatively with a peer all kinds of objections would surface:
“Why in the world would I want to practice hitting TO somebody? Shouldn’t I be training myself to hit AWAY from the player on the other side of the net??!”
It felt as if the only way they saw value in training reps is if they were directly replicating exactly what would happen in a real point…
…which left a tremendous amount of improvement on the table because they didn’t have the patience to bring the intensity level down, increase the amount of focus and purpose behind every repetition, and consciously develop the ability to hit a very specific shot over and over again.
Think about it this way: hitting away from a partner is essentially the most general “target” possible. In fact, it isn’t a target at all.
The singles court is over 1,000 square feet and the doubles court is over 1,400 square feet, per side!!
Giving yourself the goal of hitting “away” from your partner means you’re a success if you hit anywhere BUT where they’re standing. That’s a task you can easily accomplish purely by accident 90% of the time!
On the other hand, intentionally picking a specific height, depth, width, pace and spin so the ball lands exactly to your sparring partner takes tremendously more control, concentration and discipline.
That kind of repetition is how great players become great players!
In fact, if you watch professional players train you’ll see them do a LOT of cooperative hitting with practice partners or coaches. Don’t poo-poo it, there’s tremendous value to be had.
Mistake 2: “Power” Instead of Placement
This probably isn’t exactly what you think so read carefully…
I put Power in quotes because delivering a “powerful” shot is completely relative to the level of play in question. In other words, a powerful shot at 3.0 isn’t “powerful” anymore within the context of 5.0 competition.
Obvious on the surface, but here’s where the disconnect is for lots of tennis players: they assume that hitting a shot with more power automatically makes it better, or allows them to beat opponents more easily, but that isn’t true!
You know this from experience – the player who hits harder does NOT always win. In fact, a lot of times the person who’s trying to score “power points” loses much, much faster than they should have.
That’s due to a critical tennis truth: most points end with an error at all levels of play.
And so, if you’re out there trying to maximize how hard you can hit each shot towards a designated target you’re playing with fire over and over.
Contrast that with the players at your local courts who just seem to have a knack for winning no matter who they’re up against…
They’ve mastered the skill of picking a target, spin, height, depth, or pattern that makes their opponent uncomfortable and narrowing their focus like a laser on calmly executing that same shot again and again and again.
Hopefully that reminds you of Mistake #1 🙂
A sure way of spotting somebody who doesn’t understand this principle is hearing them make this remark while watching professional tennis:
“Why do they keep hitting the ball BACK to each other??”
(Don’t feel badly if you’ve had that thought while watching tennis on TV, we all had it at some point)
That viewer doesn’t understand there are layers and nuance to trying to make an opponent uncomfortable…
Great players at all level’s aren’t binary about their offense, it isn’t an “on/off” switch.
Instead, they realize certain patterns of shot are smart to play, and they’re content in hitting a few balls on that pattern to see if their opponent has poor shot tolerance (misses on their own) or will cough up a huge opportunity to close out the point in a high percentage way.
Instead of trying for knock out punch after knock out punch they’re working the point, constantly feeling out their opponent, and maximizing their chances for success while minimizing the likelihood they beat themselves.
Playing that way is much more fun than “all or nothing” power tennis 🙂
Mistake 3: “Tricky” Instead of Deadly
Please read this carefully:
Playing great tennis isn’t about repeatedly fooling your opponent, or faking them out, or being totally unpredictable.
Trying to develop a game around those ideas will only lead to you faking YOURSELF out!
In other words, with every change of spin, tempo, pattern, depth and direction you make it more and more likely that you’ll make a mistake.
And how do most tennis points end??
**Chorus of 10,000 tennis players**: “WITH AN ERROR!”
Instead, really successful competitors at all levels play in a predictably deadly way…
They uncover an opportunity against each opponent, craft a simple way to force them into playing it, and then exploit that opportunity until their foe either adjusts or loses the match.
Think about this within the context of professional tennis…
Over the past decade every player on planet earth knows EXACTLY how Rafael Nadal is going to play them and yet he continues to be one of the most difficult competitors to win against in the history of the sport.
I know, I know: the tools in his toolbox are exceptional.
BUT, it’s the dogged intentionality in how he deploys those tools that makes him such a special player.
Most of the time he could hit the ball harder than he does, but he knows that the shape (heavy topspin) and direction (exploiting righty backhands) he’s hitting in will get the job done without risking more than necessary, plus if it’s needed he can always try to mix things up and go to Plan B later…
…but until you prove to him that his Plan A isn’t going to get the job done he’s going to “go to the well” in perpetuity.
YOU can grind players down and become much, much more difficult to beat with that same mindset and mentality
Mistake 4: Decelerate Instead of Accelerate
Players with a poor understanding of the game link safety with swing speed…
They’re assumption is: slow = safe and fast = risky.
As a result whenever they come up on a critical part of a set, game, or point, a situation where they absolutely, positive must make a shot, they decelerate to make sure the ball goes into play.
The bottom line: the most important shots they hit are also their least competitive!
High level players have completely broken away from that mental paradigm because they understand how shaping tennis shots work.
They have a completely different formula in their heads:
- More acceleration = more spin = more safety
The above equation only works if you’ve learned how to swing AWAY from your target instead of towards it…
You see, when players first learn how to play they pick a spot they want the ball to go and then swing their racquet completely in that direction.
Makes sense on the surface, right?
Unfortunately, as long as your swing path is locked in on that direct, straight path you can never, ever hit any kind of significant topspin, which is the magical variable that allows for big racquet head speed AND big margin for error at the same time.
And so, low level players are constantly restricting their swing speed on critical points, restricting themselves in competitiveness, level, and improvement, while high level players actually accelerate more when it really matters, simply in a different direction to create spin.
Mistake 5: Tension Instead of Relaxation
This is a very close cousin to #4, but they aren’t always directly related.
Physical tightness creeps into the bodies of tennis players for two main reasons:
- They’re nervous and anxious mentally.
- They’re trying hard to hit the ball (acceleration).
Tightness due to nerves happens to ALL of us, regardless of level. It’s a universal tennis experience during competition, simply making us human.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s something you can absolutely improve, but as long as you play important matches that matter to you it won’t ever go away completely.
On the other hand, low level players get more and more tight the harder they try to swing, whereas high level players actually LOOSEN when they really want to go big on a particular shot.
How is that possible??
It all comes down to the primary power source in each swing…
Beginner and intermediate players use their shoulder, arm, wrist and hand to propel the racquet through contact, which means an especially high effort swing requires those muscles to aggressively contract.
On the other hand, high level players use their legs, hips, core, and torso to power their shots, which means everything from the shoulder down can be loose and relaxed!
The harder a beginner tries to hit a tennis ball the more rigid, jerky, and tense their swing gets.
Advanced players are exactly the opposite.
Mistake 6: Feet Move After Instead of Before
Beginner tennis players are master “chasers”. They’re trying to catch up to the ball and track it down shot after shot, constantly behind in the rally.
Because their response to the ball doesn’t happen until AFTER it’s hit by their opponent.
This is one of my favorite things to show to our students in slow motion on one of our iPads.
I’ll stand behind them and shoot some footage of a rally, then walk up and show them how they reacted to a shot their partner just hit.
Zooming in on their feet you can see the ball traveling towards the player on the other side of the net…..my student’s feet are flat on the ground….
…I inch the video forward and their partner is taking their racquet back to prepare. My student’s feet are flat on the ground.
…I inch the video forward some more to contact by the other play. My student’s feet are flat on the ground.
…I inch the video forward some more, the ball is now making its way towards my student. Their feet are STILL flat on the ground!
Finally, after what seems like an eternity, my student has read where the ball is going, and they physically respond by starting to move their feet in that direction.
Important: 80% of the players reading these words do what I just described.
They’re literally standing and watching as their partner or opponent prepares, swings, and hits the ball and they only activate their body once they see exactly where the shot is going.
The contrast between that and an advanced player is huge: they act BEFORE the ball is hit on the other side of the net.
They proactively activate their body and mind by widening their stance, loading their legs like springs so they’re ready to fire at maximum intensity, and getting their balance up on their toes so they can be as nimble as possible.
All of that occurs before they even know where the ball is going by using a split step. It happens without them even thinking about it because they’ve trained it over and over again.
Beginner and intermediate players know about the split step. They know what it is and why they’re supposed to do it. Unfortunately they haven’t trained it purposefully, so the knowledge goes to waste.
Mistake 7: Reactive Instead of Proactive
Again, a close cousin to the mistake before this one…
Another big reason why beginner and intermediate players tend to “chase” shot after shot is because they don’t put themselves in the best position to receive an opponent’s ball BEFORE they hit it.
After completing each swing they either stand there and admire their handiwork, gazing at the ball to see if it will land in or not…
…or they make a casual effort to get back to “the middle” before the next shot.
On the other hand, advanced players watch where their shot is going, but its for a completely different reason: they’re reading where their opponent will hit the next shot from so they can position themselves in the middle of what’s possible for them to target!
Completely different mindsets.
This is important: the middle of the baseline is NOT the middle of what your opponent could hit next….UNLESS they’re hitting from right in the middle of the baseline on their own side of the court!
High level players are working hard to put themselves in the geometrical center shot after shot, and they do so without hesitation.
That combined with the split step is why they get to SO many balls, and always appear to be in great balance