New Nike Holiday Apparel & Footwear
Get the latest and greatest gear from Nike this holiday season. New tanks, skorts, tees, polos, and jackets are available in a variety of exciting colors and patterns. Check out the new colors of the Nike Vapor VI Tour and the Court Ballistec 1.3 for the trend starter on your holiday list. Wear what the pros wear or create your own look. With so many options, you might want to start your holiday shopping early.
Available at Tennis Warehouse.
"What's New" Product Video
- from Tennis Warehouse - Under Armour pants/top; Fila Crew shirts; DVDs
The Modern Game and the Two-Handed Backhand
As we all know by now, the modern game is about power and topspin. The players hit the ball harder, spin the ball more, and engage in lightning fast exchanges that often resemble ping pong in its rapidity. But dig deeper, and aside from the stronger, fitter athletes and the improved racquet technology, the biggest change within the modern game is the whip forehand – Nadal being the primary practitioner.
But truly, any number of players can whip the ball to either corner with piercing accuracy, spin, and power, and, for better or worse, while leaping off the back foot and using open stance techniques.
But what about the two-handed backhand in the modern game? When questioned about the Nadal forehand in an interview, Federer responded, “Nadal’s backhand is generally underrated, and may, in some instances, be actually better than his forehand.”
Further, to my eye at least, Fed appeared to play the Del Potro backhand (at the recent US Open) far less than one might have expected. The pros rip this stroke with power and topspin, but somehow, their technique appears more “old school.” And as you might expect (considering my antiquated point of view) there is much to learn and appreciate from the technique of the best two-handed practitioners.
Drive the Ball Heavily Crosscourt
First and foremost (especially when playing an opponent with a one-handed backhand who also plays with the same hand as you – right or left), drive the ball crosscourt, heavily into the opponent’s backhand corner, and do so nearly every time. The intent is twofold. First, to show you are not going to blink in this exchange and will stay on the crosscourt pattern. And second, that you can drive the ball with more pace and accuracy than your opponent in this particular exchange. As often as not, at any level of professional or recreational play, the victor of the backhand to backhand exchange walks away with the match.
Dual Leg Drive – Stay on the Ground and Step In
Produce this stroke with your body. Power comes from the ground up, so in this case, prepare precisely on the back foot, and then step in so your weight is centered. From this centered position, use both legs, repeat both legs, to drive the hips into the stroke. Too often one legged strokes, when either too far back or stepping too far forward, diminish power.
Hips – Turn, Turn Turn
The largest muscles in the body are attached to the pelvic girdle – quads, hamstrings, gluts, and abdominal muscles – these must all contribute to the stroke. Often the modern whip forehand appears to be driven more from the chest, shoulders and arms, but that doesn’t work on this particular two-hander. As regards to the use of the hips, Mardy Fish has as sweet a two-hander as we see on tour.
Lag – The Little Known Secret
Click photo: Power comes from the ground up and both Wozniacki and Murray use their legs and hips to power the ball.
When a group goes for a walk, and someone cannot keep up with the rest, they are lagging behind (though not necessarily a laggard). Similarly, in a tennis stroke, for best results, the legs drive the hips, the hips the torso, the torso the arms, and so forth. But just prior to the final acceleration into the ball, when the hands are relaxed, the racquet head will lag ever so slightly.
The benefits of the lag are twofold – increased racquet head speed at contact, and a racquet face that stays aligned to the target for just a moment longer than normal. Agassi was the master of the lag. And in the following video you can see the racquet head “hesitate” ever so slightly when he fires his shoulder turn.
You can capture this feeling not by muscling, but rather by relaxing your grip.
There are many ways to hit the two-hander. Some release the trailing hand on the followthrough which makes the stroke appear every so slightly a one-hander. Others dominate from start to finish with the trailing hand (left hand in the case of a right-handers two-handed backhand). To my mind, the hands and arms work in concert, but with subtle changes during the swing.
Click photo: Watch closely and you can see that Agassi was indeed, the master of the lag.
Get a feeling that your front arm pulls the back arm up to impact, at which point the trailing hand and arm drives the ball at impact to followthrough. Too often the stroke is one-armed, either too much pulling from the front side, or over pushing from the back side. Get a feel for the arms working in concert. And again, Agassi is as good a model as we have for this type of hitting action.
Some like chocolate, some vanilla. The same is true as regards to the one- and two-handed backhands. Borg or McEnroe. Connors or Vilas. Courier or Sampras. Del Potro or Federer. The case can be made for either the two or the one (though I am intrigued that more Grand Slam titles are held by one-handers but that is for another day).
If you are a member of the two-handed camp, commit to the cross court pattern, use the ground, drive your hips, and build a genuine weapon. But at the end of the day, this shot will not be about winners, but rather about errors, in this case, at the opponent’s end of the court.
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The Effortless Swing – Weightless
Watching the pros play tennis one can't help but notice how smoothly and fluidly they swing through the ball; at times it seems almost effortless. And these days we hear a lot from teaching pros about the effortless swing. In the second of his two part series on the effortless swing, Doug King talks about weightlessness, the process of weighting and unweighting, almost like a skier does when he's making effortless turns.
Process vs. Result Goals
Do you ever wonder why your tennis ability fluctuates from day to day? There are a variety of potential answers to this question—including how your opponent happens to be playing, of course—but this is the first of a set of articles meant to address some of the answers over which you might actually have some control. One thing you can control are your goals. Your goals play a role with regard to how well you play, but conflicts between your goals can actually cause you to play worse. Daryl Fisher
The Service Return and Pressure Situations
A common circumstance happens to players when returning a second serve in a pressure situation. We finally get a break point and we put pressure on ourselves to do a good job. But the tighter the situation, the less the feet want to move. Why is that? Well, it’s part of Human Nature. Alan Margot looks at the keys on how to change that. Alan also takes a look from the receiver’s point of view, in doubles on how to deal with a server who has a good serve and mean groundstrokes, making it tough to get an advantage in the point!
ProStrokes 2.0 – Lleyton Hewitt's Forehand
Lleyton Hewitt has captured 27 titles and amassed over $18 million dollars in prize money. Ranked number one in 2001, with two Grand Slam titles under his belt, Hewitt still has some life in his legs and fire in his heart. But the art of Hewitt's game has never been about fire power, it's more about his cat like quickness and positioning skills. His shot selection minimizes his recovery footwork. When he and his opponent are centered, he often goes right back down the middle, and in that instance moves not at all after his shot. In crosscourt exchanges, he is generally more acute than opponents, so that with the acute angle, he again needs little if any recovery footwork steps.
The Etcheberry Experience DVD
For more than twenty years Pat Etcheberry has been providing athletes from around the world with the winning edge. We call this the Etcheberry Experience, and players with an Etcheberry experience have hoisted Championship Trophies at over one hundred major championships, including 28 Australian Opens, 18 Wimbledons, 22 UP Opens, 22 French Opens and 15 Olympic medals.
And now it's your turn! This is your chance to experience the same drills, exercises and words of tennis wisdom that Pat gave to Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, Jennifer Capriati, Martina Hingis, Jim Courier, Justine Henin-Hardenne, and others, that helped launch them on their incredible careers. For the first time, Pat Etcheberry shares his training secrets in a series of DVDs for players of all ages, their coaches, and trainers.
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