The Tennis Tips – Tips to Avoid Failure
These tips are very common, and others may not be so, but they all cover essential aspects of the game that must be mastered.
These tips will be analyzed during this series of articles, trying to explain and simplify them to be applied immediately.
- See the Ball.
The classic of classics. This advice is the most used by coaches and the least applied by players.
More than 50% of errors during a game result from not looking at the ball carefully enough or looking away at the last minute. In shots such as the passing shot, in the ball return of service, and in situations where the player has a long time, the percentage of errors due to this lack of attention is even higher.
Even at high-performance levels, not focusing on the ball until the moment of contact is still the most significant cause of errors in a game, significantly when the pressure increases.
The first thing a player does is stop looking at the ball by focusing on the target or the opposing player. Tennis players need to understand that there is an optimal point of contact for each stroke in tennis and that if we cannot coordinate our body to hit the ball at this point, our chances of error increase tremendously.
Ask yourself when was the last time you focused on seeing the point of contact in service. Surely you don’t remember it, but indeed he/she does, the double faults that don’t leave him/her alone. As in the other shots, the service’s effectiveness depends on an ideal contact point, which we can only achieve by following the ball until the last moment.
Follow the ball after the bounce. Most players tend to stop seeing the ball once it bounces. By focusing on the path after the boat to the point of contact, we ensure proper focus to achieve an optimal contact point.
Try to see the letters on the ball. This advice makes us sharpen our concentration, and when trying to see the notes, we force ourselves to focus our eyes on the ball.
Try to see the string-ball contact. This tip is for the same purpose as watching the ball after the bounce. If we focus on seeing the strings’ connection with the ball, we make sure to keep our eyes on the ball throughout the course and not make the common mistake of turning our head too soon to see the opposite or the area where we are aiming.
Mentally repeat boot hits just as this happens. Mentally repeating the words bounce and hit each time these events occur helps us maintain focus on the ball avoiding distractions.
Emphasize concentration at the point of contact, especially in the following situations:
- Serve return
- Take out
- Pass shot
- Approach shot
- Difficult or surprising situations
- Specific situations.
In all these situations, it is common for us to change our attention on the ball to focus on the opponent or our target since they are pressure situations. A worthy goal would be to propose not to miss balls in this situation by not seeing them.
Tennis is based on coordinated and efficient movements. Each blow requires the use of specific muscles in perfect synchronization, which means that we must learn to identify those muscles that we need for the impact and isolate them from those that do not contribute.
Professional tennis is a clear example of this applied concept. The professionals’ game looks easy and fluid, Roddick, even though they generate incredible speeds in their shots. It is because they have achieved a very high degree of efficiency in their strokes, using to the maximum the muscles that assist the stroke and relaxing those that interfere, in other words, the maximum result with the minimum effort.
The tendency in tennis is to use too much muscle force on strokes, thus engaging muscles that are not contributing to the stroke. A clear example is a way we usually grip the racket. Ideally, we should think that our task is to support and guide and not to squeeze.
Over-clenching the fist locks the arm joints and unnecessarily engages many muscles. The racket should be taken as relaxed as possible without losing control; an excellent comparison to understand would be to imagine that the noise is a bird. If we tighten it too much, we will hurt it, and if we loosen the grip too much, it will escape us.
As a player, it is essential to learn to control our muscular tension level and identify excesses since we are so used to playing tense that we do not even notice it. As a goal, we must try that the racket flies freely and fluidly in all strokes, a bit as if our racket were a bucket full of water that we must move without throwing the water.
The following exercises will help us develop a more relaxed and efficient swing:
- Loosen the grip as much as possible throughout the swing to discover the ideal pressure level. By doing this, little by little, we will know precisely the level of tension that we require.
- Starting the rally with as little tension as possible, basically just stopping the racket, so it doesn’t fall off. From this point, gradually increase the body tension and intensity until you reach a comfortable level of “relaxed intensity.”
- Ball using only the thumb, index, and middle finger to hold the racket. In this way, we can realize that we don’t need a lot of force to execute our strokes, learning to manage our swing more efficiently.
- Put a weight on the racket’s head and make shadows to generate a fluid and relaxed racket flight. Finally, I advise you to continually ask yourself if the executing shots can be executed with less muscular effort and with the same result. above
- Automate the Circle of Movement Roger Federer
Tennis is a movement game that requires a perfect body adjustment concerning the ball to find the ideal contact point.
The best shots in the world lose all their effectiveness when the player fails to bring his body to an ideal hitting position, as seen when professionals begin to lose their level of play after the age of 30. At this age, professionals continue to hit the ball the same way, but they begin to lose ground in mobility. What used to be a shot that they could attack comfortably becomes a shot that forces them to play more defensively, giving the opponent more opportunity and making them less dangerous.
The circle of movement is the essence of mobility on the court. It is a sequence of steps that must be automated to move more effectively. Every good player follows the same series every time he hits the ball.
The Circle of Movement has 5 stages:
- Tip of the Feet. The player must remain on the balls of his feet with a high degree of intensity throughout the point.
- Split step. When the opponent begins to move his racket towards the ball, the player must jump and fall to the ground at the moment of impact between the ball and the opponent’s racket. This jump is called the “Spit step,” which helps the player establish a good starting position forcing him to bend the knees and lower gravity.
- Shoulder Twist, first step, and adjustment steps. As soon as the player falls to the ground after the split phase, they need to roll their shoulders to prepare the shot and move their feet towards the ball. Once near the hitting area, the player must continue adjusting his steps, looking for an ideal position. We call this movement to find a perfect striking place “Adjustment Steps.”
- Support base. Once in position, the player needs to lower his center of gravity by bending his knees to generate more force in the blow.
- Recovery. Finally, the player needs to stop his lateral movement as soon as possible and return to the court’s center, starting again with the Circle of Movement to answer the next shot.
These five components of the Circle of Movement are the foundation of mobility on the court. Any omission or error in any of these components will seriously affect the player’s movement’s effectiveness. I invite you to work on this movement structure until you automate it. I’m sure it will help you tremendously to maximize your movement ability.
Find the Ideal Point of Contact and Prepare in Time.
In tennis, the point of contact is the critical element to hitting a good shot. Each swing has an ideal contact point that allows the racket to flow efficiently and effortlessly. The goal of any image is to contact the ball at the perfect moment with the head of the racket parallel to the net, the strings aligned behind the ball, and pointing in the direction of where the shot is to be made. If you feel uncomfortable and tense when hitting the ball and have to move your body to adjust to the ball, your point of contact is most likely not ideal.
Experiment with varying the point of contact until you find the most comfortable striking position in which you can keep your head completely still during impact. Once this position is identified, try to find it in each shot.
An excellent exercise to practice this is to mentally repeat “yes” or “no” after each blow, depending on whether they achieved an ideal impact or not. Please do the same with all your shots, including serving, until it is clear to you where you want to hit the ball on each of your shots. They need to find this point of contact whenever they hit the ball until it becomes a habit.
To achieve this, they must prepare in time so that they can better coordinate their swing. One of the main problems is waiting until the ball is bounced to bring the racket back.
This works well when the ball bounces too far from the player, but it is impossible to achieve an ideal point of contact when it reflects close. A good goal for good preparation is to roll your shoulders and roll your racket back from the split-step while taking your first step toward the ball. Get used to turning your torso before moving your feet, always running with the racket in the hitting position.
Ideally, make sure the racket is already in striking position before the opponent’s ball passes the net. By following this simple advice, you can drastically reduce your errors since the best swing in the world only works if an ideal contact point is achieved, and being even more direct, you could conclude by saying that in every game, the winner will be the player who manages to hit the ball in the ideal point of contact the most significant number of times. above.
Simplify your strokes
The goal in any shot is to make contact with the ball at the sweet spot, with the head of the racket perpendicular to the net, the strings aligned behind the ball, and pointing in the direction of where you want to shoot.
All failures in tennis are the consequence of a wrong position of the racket head-on contact. For this reason, the effectiveness of the shot depends on this moment, and all the rest of the shot should help the player to achieve this ideal point of contact as frequently as possible.
If we analyze each tennis shot, we will realize that there are basic movements and other secondary movements that do not contribute to the shot in all strokes. For example, in the topspin forehand, an essential part of the stroke is the racket’s movement toward the ball in an upward direction. Without this part of the swing, it would be impossible to hit the ball with topspin.
On the other hand, starting the preparation by moving the elbow back is not decisive since one could also begin the practice by first bringing the racket’s tip back. In this case, both styles could be equally effective.
Considering this, we can conclude that our shots’ effectiveness will depend on how consistent we can be with each shot’s basic movements and that each activity that does not contribute to the shot implies something extra to coordinate to reach the point of contact in position. That is why a simple swing without many irrelevant movements will always be more efficient and safe.
Each player’s task should be to analyze their shots and simplify them as much as possible to limit secondary movements and achieve a clean technique with short swings trying to keep the strings aligned behind the ball throughout the swing.
The following points will help you analyze and simplify your swing:
- The head and body must remain still during the swing. All extra movement must be eliminated. Focusing on keeping your head still during the point of contact is a great way to improve your balance.
- The strings must remain in contact position throughout the swing. When the lines point up or down during set up, there could be impact issues as, at some point, an adjustment will need to be made. To do this, start with the racket at the end of the contact and try to strike without altering the racket head position.
- Too long a swing in which the strings can be seen behind the player’s back, on the other hand, is always going to create problems, as is too high a setup overhead. A short swing based on the trunk’s twist instead of the arm’s movement will always be more consistent and effective.
- The termination must be perfectly controlled and very precise. When a player finishes his shot at random, he will permanently lose accuracy. A good exercise is to hit the baseline, always ending the shot in the same place, with the elbow detached from the body and the arm semi-stretched.
Keep Your Head Still
Tennis is a precision sport in which the racket head’s position during the point of contact determines the shot’s effectiveness. Consistency in the game depends on the player’s ability to achieve a practically identical contact point on each shot.
To achieve this objective, the player must keep the body stable during the execution of his shots since moving the body during the hit drastically alters the racket’s trajectory. Every good player manages to keep his body in an optimal state of balance, and the key to achieving this is “the head.” The head is the basis of balance in tennis. All body movement begins with the head. If you don’t believe me, try to move your body, keeping your head still, and you will see that you cannot. If the head moves, the body will follow. Therefore concentrating on keeping your head still during play will automatically improve your balance and consistency.
The following exercises will help you improve this important aspect:
- Try to focus on watching the ball contact the strings and keep your focus on the contact point without trying to follow your shot to the other side of the court. Stay like a statue after the hit without seeing where your ball goes.
- Put a cap on backward so that it can fall off with any sudden movement of the head. Try to hit the ball without dropping the cap.
- One of the most common mistakes in serving and spiking is lowering your head too quickly during the shot. Try to serve or shoot without following the ball with your eyes, keeping an eye on the sky after the shot.
Learn to handle effects, especially the Top Spin.
One of the most significant barriers that separate intermediate and advanced players are spins, as spin helps you handle the ball with more precision and strength.
In modern tennis, the ball’s topspin or forward turn is an integral part of the game. Only by mastering this effect can an ideal balance between control and strength be achieved.
Ideally, an advanced player should be able to control the speed of his ball through spin without having to alter the speed of his swing. Or put another way, the advanced player can keep his swing at a very high and constant speed by changing his shot’s speed and trajectory through the spin.
To impart topspin to the ball, or forward turn, it is necessary to make sure that the trajectory of the racket during the swing is upward and that when in contact with the ball, the head of the racket is parallel to the net; this is the only way to achieve this kind of effect. The standard tip of hitting the ball overhead to spin it is just one way to make sure the racket’s strings are not pointing up during the hit, as if we hit the ball overhead, we would never get through.
For beginners, an excellent way to feel this effect is to place your racket head parallel to the net and use your non-dominant hand to press a ball between the strings and your writing. From this position, they need to try to push the ball up with the racket, leaving the non-dominant hand still. The ball will roll over the hand and spin forward before hitting the ground. The same exercise can be done by pressing the ball between the strings and the net’s headband and then pushing it to the other side. With this exercise, you can give a good idea of the topspin bases; the rest is a lot of practice. Once the ball is turned forward with groundstrokes, the next step is to learn how to handle different spin and height levels over the net.
The following exercises will help you practice this. All of these exercises will start with a crossover rally.
1st First, start hitting flat, trying that the ball does not turn anything.
- Then try to impart a moderate effect.
- Finally, paste with the most significant possible impact.
- After this, combine a flat shot, one with average spin and one with maximum spin.
2nd Once you are comfortable with this exercise, you have to vary the heights, accelerating to the maximum with each stroke.
- First rally trying to get the ball to pass close to the net.
- Then rally passing the ball 2 meters over the net
- Then rally saving the net for 4 meters.
- And finally, keep the ball in play by varying the height.
3rd The next step is to learn to vary the distance through the effect.
You have to rallycross. One of the players will try to keep the ball steady on the back of the court, while the other will try to play a deep ball, a shorter one, and a super angle. All this keeps the racket’s speed constant and achieves the different distances through variations in the effect.
Once you know to spin the ball, you need to practice variations on the wheel in the same way as groundstrokes, alternating different serves, to achieve better control of the ball. Learning to use the topspin is the most crucial step any player interested in improving their tennis can take. Once mastering this effect, endless possibilities open up, reserved only for those players with the courage and patience to take this big step.
Keep Shoulders Parallel to the Floor
In tennis, the body rotates on an imaginary axis that crosses from top to bottom, passing through the middle of the head and cutting the body in two. To achieve consistency and power, it is necessary to maintain this parallel axis shoulders vertical perpendicular to the ground.
When we tilt the shoulders, we tilt this axis and automatically open or close the racket’s head, causing an error. This move is widespread when trying to answer low balls. During these shots, the tendency is not to bend the knees and lean the trunk to execute the shot. To avoid this, it is essential to create a solid base for executing this type of blow-by opening the legs’ compass a little in the last step and using the knees to lower the center of gravity, keeping the shoulders parallel to the floor at all times. An great way to put this into practice is to make sure that on low and short balls, you take a long step towards the ball to turn the body on its side, concentrating on lowering the knee of the rear leg to the ground as if to kneel. In this way, the trunk will drop but will remain erect.
Lengthens the Contact Zone
The point of contact is the most critical event in tennis. If the player manages to make contact with the ball, keeping the racket’s head in the ideal position, he will achieve a good shot; if not, he will indeed cause a mistake. A difference of two or three degrees in the racket head’s angle on contact makes a considerable difference in the ball’s flight pattern. Therefore, the longer we manage to keep the racket’s head in the ideal contact position and align with our target during our swing, the more likely we will achieve a good shot and develop a consistent game.
The following exercises will help you achieve this:
Place the racket in the ideal contact position and maintain this racket head position throughout the swing on both the forehand and backhand.
Position yourself on the court in such a way that one of the lines serves as a guide. Use that line to make forehand and backhand shadows and try to keep your racket head traveling over the line for as long as possible.
Imagine that you are closing a drawer with the palm of your hand in case of the right and make hitting shadows. For the reverse, imagine that you are using the back of your hand to close the drawer.
Imagine that you will roll a giant ball towards a specific target using the forehand or backhand motion.
Visualize hitting five hitting balls one after the other on each hit instead of just one.
Focus on finishing the punch in front of the body and not wrapping the arm around the neck.
On the right, finish with the arm comfortably extended, the elbow forward, and the racket’s head is pointing to the left side of the opposite court (for rights). On the one-handed backhand finish with the arm comfortably extended and the racket pointed at the target. For two-handed backpacks, extend your right arm wide at the end of the swing (for rights) and finish with the nose pointed at the target.
Have fun learning
Tennis is a lifelong sport that can give us a lot of satisfaction. Still, at the same time, it can be one of our most frustrating experiences if we fail to develop an adequate philosophy towards learning and competition.
The following points will help you to enjoy this incredible sport more:
Mistakes are part of the game, and most points are won or lost by mistakes, even in matches between the best players in the world. Nobody in the world is saved from making mistakes; they are part of daily training and any game.
The secret is to try to minimize our mistakes and manage our minds so that our errors do not affect our state of mind and, consequently, our performance.
Mistakes are part of the learning process and necessary for improvement. One of the things that I constantly repeat to my students who get frustrated is that while trying to implement something new in their game, they must accept that they will improve only through making many mistakes. For example, I tell someone who is working on his backhand that the learning process requires him to hit more than 10,000 balls, of which he possibly needs to miss more than half. Once you understand this, it is much easier to enjoy the learning process.
Once you understand the concept, you still need to miss many balls until you can implement a game change. Understanding that you need to bend your elbow more on the service is not enough to get you on the serve. One of the examples that I use a lot with players who don’t want to understand this is the concept of playing the piano. I tell them that I will teach them to play the piano straightforwardly and explain that all that is required to play any melody is to put your hands on the keyboard and press the right key at the right time. That’s the whole theory, and if they can put it into practice, they can play any melody instantly. However, the tricky thing is not to understand the idea but to put it into practice, and this takes many years, of course, just like in tennis.
Improving and playing well at the same time is not possible. When we practice something new, we will feel uncomfortable, and our game will worsen; this is part of the process, and we have to accept it. Only when we manage to execute the changes in our game automatically without thinking about them will we reap the benefits of the adjustment that we carry out. As in many things in life, improving costs and you have to pay the price in advance.
The most critical competition in tennis is against yourself, not against your opponent. It requires being able to focus on the ‘now’ throughout the game, on what needs to be done in the current moment, blocking all thoughts in the future or the past, such as I’m playing bad, ‘or I can’t lose against this ” etc. Only in this way can increase our chances of success. The focus during the game must be absolutely towards our person because it is what we can control.
The opposite and the environment are part of the game but unfortunately, an aspect beyond our control and focusing or worrying about them can only harm us. Understanding and putting these simple concepts into practice is the key to enjoying and making the most of our training sessions and games. A positive and realistic approach to tennis is the key to ensuring a positive experience for a lifetime.