I wrote an article a couple of months ago, “Finding your perfect strike point – your tennis DNA.” It made me think of another way to help you better understand where is the best place for you, individ-ually, to contact the ball.
One of the basic, most important fundamentals I work at getting across to tennis students is the need to get their body out of the way of the ball while maintaining balance and moving their body weight forward into the ball.
For those unable to understand how to do this, tennis is played more like ping pong, mainly using all arm to make shots.
Needless to say, this would cause a lot more shanked and mis-hit shots to go along with very sore, tired arms.
After working to find and demonstrate an easy way for students to grasp this concept, here’s what I use that seems to make a light bulb go off for most everyone I teach.
Pick up a tennis ball with your “off” hand and hold it arm’s length from your body. Now, with your racquet in your dominant hand, hold the sweet spot (center of the strings) on the ball.
That’s it! This is the ideal space you should maintain between your body and the ball when hitting groundstrokes, and it’s unique to you – your personal tennis DNA.
If you can burn this “space” in your brain and create a reference point that becomes rote, you’ll quickly become a better ball striker.
An easy way to start practicing this is to simply feed balls to yourself:
- Stand parallel to the baseline at the center of the tennis court (as if to hit a forehand) and drop a ball with your off hand, arm’s length away, toward the net post.
- Step toward the ball and net post with your off-side foot (left foot if you’re right handed) as the ball bounces up from the court.
- Strike the ball with your racquet when it reaches the top of it’s bounce.
- Bring your back foot forward (toes facing the net) like you’re walking toward the net while the racquet follows through over your offshoulder.
- Once you feel you’ve got it do it over about 8 billion more times. (Just kidding – only 1 billion!)
And, on a lighter note, we end up with a more positive “stay at arm’s length” connotation than what is typically meant by that phrase.
Leave it to tennis to accentuate the positive!
Lou Marino is a USPTA Cardio and youth tennis coach who lives, teaches and provides custom-hybrid racquet service in the Bluffton-Hilton Head Island area. firstname.lastname@example.org