Now that we’re in our Lowcountry winter, the wind tends to be more noticeably having an effect on our tennis games. One minute the ball is there, no, here – no, wait, where did it go??
Well, here are some ways you just might be able to work with windy conditions and get more favorable results rather than being “blown away”:
- Footwork. Use lots of little steps to get your body in position to hit the ball. Two of the best examples to watch from the tennis archives are Jimmy Connors and Billie Jean King (that’s going back a while!).
They had great footwork and always seemed to be poised and balanced to hit the ball. Taking big steps will make you prone to the wind moving the ball one way while you’re going the other way.
- Improve your margin of error. Instead of aiming for the lines, try hitting the ball about a foot or two inside them. Aim a little higher over the net and add more topspin to help keep the ball in the court.
Also, be sure to contact the ball firmly, especially when hitting into the wind. Hitting too easy allows the wind to be more of a factor.
- Shorten your backswing. A big backswing will give the wind more time to do crazy things to the ball before you actually contact it, causing a mis-hit, or worse, a complete whiff.
- Hit with different spins, and use the drop shot. Practice using these two tools, coupled with the effects of the wind and you can wreak havoc on an opponent.
- Be ready to get to the net as soon as possible. If your opponent is hitting into the wind, chances are a lot of balls will be short and you should be ready to put them away.
- Hit your serve with a little more spin vs. power. Remember, spin already makes the served ball move when it bounces, so let the wind help do even more to keep the opposition guessing.
Take your time serving because the wind might affect your toss. Catch the ball and toss it again if the wind moves it around too much.
- Overheads. Again, take your time. Let it bounce (if necessary) and you’ll be better prepared to make the hit.
Here’s to hoping you enjoy working with the winds of winter tennis in the Lowcountry.
Lou Marino is a USPTA Cardio and Youth Tennis coach who lives and teaches in the greater Bluffton/Hilton Head Island area.