With the start of a new year, I wonder how many resolutions are made, past and present, that simply lack follow through?
I’m as guilty as anyone of not following through on the best of intentions with New Year’s resolutions and have almost given up making them. But that won’t keep me from making one to help you and me play better tennis.
So, here goes: I resolve to make a conscious effort to encourage myself and you to “follow through” completely on every forehand and backhand ground stroke … every time, no matter what.
This element of the stroke completes it and at the same time allows you to control the direction of the ball and its depth into the court. Without it there’s little chance for a good shot to be made.
As I mentioned in a previous article about the role of the tennis player’s “off hand,” you can use your non-dominant hand to insure a complete follow through.
On the forehand side, use it to catch the racquet over your non-dominant shoulder after contact with the ball.
On the backhand side, the follow through is over your dominant shoulder with the “off hand” outstretched and used as a counter balance for one-handed backhands.
When using a two-handed backhand, the follow through is still over the dominant shoulder, but the “off hand” is above the dominant hand, helping to hold the racquet.
Another benefit of a complete follow through: It helps to insure proper shoulder and core rotation, transferring the energy from your legs and hips through the body to contact with the ball.
And, now that I’ve mentioned legs, make sure you use your legs on every shot. They’re there not just to transport your body around the court.
The legs perform the very important function of helping to transfer your weight (back foot to front foot) into the ball. This is how you get power behind your shots, not just using your arm.
By turning your hips, bending your knees and moving into the ball from low to high, following through over your shoulder makes the ground stroke complete.
In closing, I hope this resolution will encourage you to follow through with your “follow through,” and I hope you’ll follow through with any other well-intentioned New Year’s resolutions, too.
Happy New Year!
Lou Marino is a USPTA Cardio and youth tennis coach who lives, teaches and provides racquet service in the Bluffton-Hilton Head Island area.