Pat Etcheberry's Certification Program (Nov. 11-12, Los Gatos Tennis Academy, CA). See below for details.
Use Less Strength with Better Technique
David W. Smith, Senior Editor TennisOne
There is a common misconception, one in which many tennis players have the perception that skilled tennis requires a certain level of strength necessary to execute many of the strokes they encounter while playing the game. However, the reasons for this perception is largely based on ineffective or inefficient techniques. While the ability to hold a tennis racquet firmly within the contact phase of hitting a ball as well as the need for significant pace when desired, requires a degree of strength, I can assure you that most everyone who can lift a tennis racquet has sufficient strength necessary to hit skilled tennis shots!
In many of my clinics, I often will demonstrate volleys, serves and groundstrokes hit while holding my racquet with only my thumb and index fingers. That's right , I'm using just enough strength to keep the racquet from dropping to the ground or flying out of my hand at contact. Yet even with this extremely weak grip, I am able to execute firm, crisp volleys, serves, and groundstrokes with spin and depth. In addition, I demonstrate angle volleys with touch and ease from this very same "weak" grip.
The problem for most players is not the issue of strength or the lack thereof; rather, it is about technique. On volleys, for example, many 3.0 and 3.5 players still use an eastern forehand and backhand grip. This grip is the preferred grip among beginners because it provides a sense of grip-strength as it puts more hand behind the racquet for support. Unfortunately, these grips set the racquet face at nearly a right-angle to the forearm. Thus when a player stands facing the net, the racquet is square to the incoming ball. This might sound great in the context of having the racquet meet the ball cleanly. However, by simply turning sideways (unit turn), the player will naturally take the racquet too far back. Add to this the tendency of the player to take the racquet back with the arm and the player will need to swing the racquet around just to get the racquet square to the ball again. Such movement provides far more power than is required or necessary to hit an effective volley. Likewise, the angle of the racquet is changing completely within the contact zone which adds to the difficulty of the stroke.
Many of these eastern volley players either have to decelerate the stroke so-as to not over hit the volley. By this deceleration, the player feels the racquet lying too far back and this creates the perception of needed strength. Immediately, the player must get the racquet square to the ball and this requires an awkward wrist movement in most cases.
Such players usually acclimate to the eastern grips by not turning sideways and simply "pushing" the volley forward while facing the net. While this is a good solution to the problem of the turn and backswing I described previously, it does not equate into a prolific volley. In addition, such a volley method severely limits the diversity of the type of volley possible. These players usually can hit straight and deep…and not much else.
When we have players in our camps and clinics using eastern grips on their volley, and they attempt an angle volley drill, especially one that requires touch and finesse, more often than not, they never come close to the target. While they may hit their volleys cleanly, they are usually too deep or too hard. This is because the racquet must be swung around to obtain the necessary angle of the racquet face at contact, as I mentioned earlier. Such movement always causes the ball to be hit too hard. Because the player subconsciously knows this will be the outcome, they tend to hit the ball deep at very little angle. They seldom discover any significant angle or touch.
Using a continental grip sets the angle of the racquet for any angle volley easily with out any swing whatsoever. In fact, all that is necessary is for the player to simply turn the upper body slightly away from the target and leave the racquet in the ready position. This sets the racquet for a severe angle volley. If a deeper volley is desired, the player simply turns more to the side allowing the racquet to be set deeper. Of course, if the player only wanted to use his arm to accomplish this, he can with minimal body turn. This is why we see pros use some body rotation on volleys and some with very little.
The bottom line is that with the continental grip, the player dictates how much "swing" is desired. With eastern grips, if the player uses any body rotation or backswing, or if they desire to hit an angle volley, they must "swing’ the racquet around to simply achieve the proper racquet angle. And it is this swing that severely limits the progress of these players in terms of volleying skills.
Get comfortable using the right grip and technique for advanced play and you will, in time, be able to hit more advanced shots. Avoiding such methods will not kill you, but don’t expect to improve beyond a certain point with your limited techniques. And remember too, skilled tennis looks easy because physically, it is. Like riding a bike, learning to balance and steer took time. Once mastered, however, riding a bike becomes a piece of cake.
(Click link to purchase Dave Smith's Book Tennis Mastery, at tenniswarehouse.com.)
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Pat Etcheberry's Certification Program (Nov. 11-12, Los Gatos Tennis Academy,
- Enhance your professional value: Eligible for 4 USPTA CEU credit and PTR MAP Points
- Add new revenue streams to your business
- Receive a FREE copy of Pat's new book "My Secrets to Championship Performance"
- Receive a FREE copy of Pat's blockbuster DVD series "Strength & Conditioning for Serious Tennis: Coaches' Edition"
Rounding Out Drills
When learning tennis, players get so caught up in the ‘stroke mechanics’ that their ability to play fluid tennis suffers. Many players practice the correct grips, footwork, and stroke patterns to the degree that they become one-dimensional and can’t adjust to an opponent’s shot diversity nor are they able to fluctuate much from their methodical stroke tendencies. Dave Smith offers up a few drills designed to teach excellent racquet head control and management - something very important if you are going excel in this game!
ProStrokes Gallery: Nicole Vaidisova's Forehand
Nicole Vaidisova has it all going on. At seventeen years old she appears to have a big time career ahead of her. Groomed by Nick Bollettieri, she has all the usual ingredients. Huge forehand, big though not at all that flowing on the backhand side, serves well, and moves well, but to my eye what stands out is her competitiveness. Nicole has not shown too much interest in defense. - she goes for her shots. I do not see doubt or restraint in her backcourt rallies. It's offense from all corners.
The Challenge of the Zone
One of the big misconceptions in tennis is that you must focus on your opponent in order to “read” his or her shot. The contact is the most important thing in tennis, so why are you focusing on your opponent? You can observe what your opponent is doing, along with everything else that is occurring in your visual field, by simply fixing your focus on your contact zone. With your visual focus firmly fixed on your contact zone you will see everything in your visual field simultaneously. - Scott Ford
Crosscourt - The Importance of Coaching
With so much emphasis on coaching in pro tennis, it may come as a surprise to some that Roger Federer, perhaps the greatest player of all time, travels without a coach. This week on Crosscourt, leading tennis journalists, Matt Cronin and veteran touring pro, Paul Goldstein discuss the importance of coaching on the pro tour and the effect coaches have had some of games great players.
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.
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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