eTennisTeam "Team" Instruction
"I just wanted to take a few minutes to thank you for developing the eTeams site... it's such a great tool for captains.
I know my co-captain, and i can say that we've found it immensely helpful."
- email from eTennisTeam Captain
Click photo to view Ken DeHart's practice video tip.
We appreciate the feedback we're getting on eTennisTeam, the web-based service that helps you and your team be the best they can be. We're adding new functionality all the time, and last week we added a team blog (web log), a place where everyone on the team can post comments or information that all can see and then respond to.
In terms of team-based instruction, see the short video clip of Ken DeHart, TennisOne Associate Editor. Ken is one of only a few teaching pros with a national certification from the USPTA and USPTR (tennis teaching professional associations) and is a featured speaker all over the country.
The Power of Yielding; Go With the “Flow”
It should be obvious that the way we practice will dictate the way we will play. While there are exceptions to this statement, I have found that almost all players will ultimately play at levels determined by the way they practice.
Click photo: Players tend to gravitate to their best shots when they warm up or practice instead of the shots they need to work on.
Unfortunately, many players believe it isn’t quality, but quantity that will hone a player's skills. While the amount of time on the practice court has a direct correlation to tennis mastery, what is being practiced should be of primary concern. Too often I see players ‘hitting’ balls with whatever form they are most comfortable with. Obviously, if we continue to practice and play using inferior or prohibitive strokes, grips, and footwork, we will never become familiar or comfortable or competitive with more effective techniques.
This is where education plays a an important role in the development of tennis players. We must be clear in knowing that what we are practicing will result in our advancement over time. While simple or comfortable grips and strokes may result in perceived skill, such skill is only relative to our beginning levels of play. Like throwing a basketball up from between our legs when we were little might allow us to hit the rim or even make a basket, but such form would never allow us to make our high school team.
Tennis is no different. Eastern grips on volleys or serves, or hitting flat, pushed, or jabbed forehands and backhands from the baseline will work fine against similarly challenged opponents; however, these strokes will severely hamper tennis growth and the ability to make steady improvements. Learning to hit more effective shots through the development of slice or topspin, and learning to defend against more effective shots hit by more advanced players, is the definition of progression in tennis. If we use inferior methods, we will inevitably stall our progression and stagnate at levels early in our careers that are far below that which our ‘potential’ would define. That is where your practice routine comes in.
Practice Weak Shots First
Players tend to gravitate to their best shots when they warm up and practice. If the backhand volley is suspect, avoiding it in practice is certainly not going to spontaneously make it better! Always practice your weakest shot first. We tend to spend more time on the first drills we attempt. Thus, it is good practice to start working on weakest shots and progress to those that are more accomplished.
Start With Volleys First
Warming up should provide players with low stress and repetitive motions that allow the small muscle groups and connective tissues to, well, warm up. Likewise, if we are weak or uncomfortable with volleys, then we should make working the volley a priority.
Too many players start out warming up with full-swinging groundstrokes. If you want to develop or aggravate tennis elbow or arthritis or any other arm/hand/elbow/knee joint, starting out with full strokes is a sure-fire way to do it! Volleys softly hit close to the net, with very short strokes can create low stress warm-ups that reduce the risk of injury (due to the fact that we are not swinging hard, yet moving our feet) as well as improve areas of your game that are not as strong.
Start by volleying softly, upwards using a more vertical trajectory instead of a horizontal one. These should feel almost like drop-shots only you volley the ball back and forth. We have a drill we use for group warm-ups where we will have 10 to 12 players on the net facing each other, each player hitting the ball up and just over the net. Partners should try and let the ball drop considerably (without letting the ball bounce) before hitting the same trajectory back. This drill really warms up the legs, teaches players how to use finesse and angles better, and warms up the hand and arm far faster than any groundstroke, due to the nature of the number of shots hit in a very short period of time.
Emphasizing footwork and short topspin or slice strokes, players should learn to rally from the service lines with short, compact strokes. This rally warm-up is done by top pros and juniors alike.
Click photo: After you are able to sustain a rally in this mini-tennis format, work your way in during the rally, getting more comfortable closing
in on the net.
Working the ball crosscourt or down the line, players will want to control the ball in this short-court practice routine. Diversify and intensify the footwork by alternating forehands and backhands during the rally. That is, if you hit it to your partner’s forehand on one shot, then hit to his backhand on the next…and he does the same to you. In this short format, players must move their feet aggressively, yet hit a shot that is controlled and cooperative. This helps both players aim, become consistent, and perhaps most importantly, hit within themselves.
After you are able to sustain a rally in this mini-tennis format, then move closer in from this position and get comfortable closing in on the net. Alternate partners moving in for a period of time, then have both players close in. See if you can create rallies of 10 or more shots each time.
These are but a few of the ways you can energize and maximize your practice routines. Look for ways to not only warm up, but also improve those areas of your game that are deficient. These techniques will speed up both!
As always, we would love to hear from you! Questions, comments, personal experiences all create helpful dialogue for everyone! Please click here to send us your email.
(Click link to purchase Dave Smith's book, Tennis Mastery, at tenniswarehouse.com.)
“Hit and Hold” - A Powerful Phrase that Works!
While making changes in your strokes, grips, and footwork patterns are usually difficult and frustrating, you can improve your game through a greater sense of balance and control using the concept of "hit and hold." While there isn't a panacea for all that ails a tennis player, Dave Smith believes this phrase can address several incriminating features that plague many players.
Flow and the Zone - Part III
You don’t have to be a professional to get into a flow state. You don’t even have to have great strokes or sound biomechanics for the flow experience to occur. You do, however, have to be willing to let go of what keeps you out of a flow state. In this third part of Scott Ford's series on Flow and the Zone, he shows you how.
Teaching Younger Juniors, Part IV
When teaching younger juniors, fun and success are the name of the game if you’re going to retain their interest in tennis. David Brouwer shares more of his favorite games designed to teach strokes to children ages 4-6. Remember, the more you try to “teach” strokes to children this age, the more paralyzed they become. So keep it fun and keep your enthusiasm up!
Virtual Tennis Academy
Current professional tour coach, Heath Waters and wife, top 100 and former no. 33 in the world ranked tour player, Lindsay Lee-Waters, are proud to release the first predominantly all streaming video based e-learning tennis instructional website at www.virtualtennisacademy.com
Subscribers will receive personal video tennis instruction directly from Heath and Lindsay as well as mental coaching, sports performance training, and much, more from a hand chosen team of experts currently working with professional tennis players on tour. Now anyone in the world, no matter what level, can receive the same world class training the world's best tennis players receive right from the convenience of their own home.
Jeff Greenwald - Fearless Tennis
Feel you're playing tentatively and know that you have greater potential than you're demonstrating in tournaments? This one of a kind, double- CD audio program, FearlessTennnis: The 5 Mental Keys To Unlocking Your Potential, will help you compete with confidence, close out matches and is a great way to get the mental edge en route to a tournament.
Schedule Jeff Greenwald to Speak
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